Kim Miller of Sober in Vegas
Most people don’t associate sobriety or mindfulness with Las Vegas. The city of sin has done a good job of cultivating a very specific narrative of blackout partying thanks to movies like The Hangover and the “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” motto.
When I moved back home to Las Vegas I was about 6 weeks dry and I was surprisingly calm. Because I’d grown up in Southern Nevada, I knew that there was so much more than long drunken casino nights to be had--plentiful hiking and a vibrant downtown arts scene are just some of the perks offered in this supportive and progressive desert community.
One thing I was worried about however was what to drink. Sounds silly, I know, but after years of unwinding with alcohol after the workday, I needed to be diligent about creating new habits. Over the next two years I restocked the areas in our kitchen that would have held alcohol in our past life and instead filled them with alcohol-free alternatives.
During the days, weeks, and years that I’ve since quit drinking one thing I’ve realized is how much more present I am for meals and post meal treats. Prior to removing alcohol from my life I probably would have identified as someone who was ‘mindful’ but truthfully I was really just someone who wanted to be more mindful.
Deep down I wanted to notice the small details, take the time to savor the moment, and enjoy the little pleasures of friends’ company. But when it came time to get together for a group meal or have friends over, I think I got nervous that I wasn’t enough and would start drinking to quell my nerves.
Now, when we’re getting ready to host, I love thinking about what special alcohol-free offerings I can put together to make our guests feel welcome. And when I start to feel anxious, I take a minute to explore why. Or to take a quick walk outside. Or tell someone that I’m feeling nervous rather than trying to steamroll over it with a drink.
Below are some of my favorite beverages we keep in stock at home, especially for entertaining. Some are for ordinary family dinner nights and some are reserved for more special occasions, but all of the below are around our house on any given day:
Humm Hopped Grapefruit Kombucha: I love this variety as it has the unexpected pairing of citrus and hops, not too sweet and just the right amount of tart. I’ve found it at the grocery store both in a bottle as well as a can, and it’s so refreshing over ice.
Celestial Seasonings Madagascar Vanilla Roobois Tea: This tea is perfect served hot as an after dinner treat, or chilled and served with almond milk over ice during a long summer day. I love that’s caffeine free too, so I can indulge without getting the jitters.
Seedlip Spice 94: So many big alcohol companies are now jumping on the alcohol-free bandwagon but Seedlip has always had us non-drinkers in mind when creating their spirits. I prefer the Spice 94 variety and lately I’ve loved mixing it with Fentimans Mandarin & Seville Orange Jigger for a special treat.
WellBeing Brewing Hellraiser Dark Amber: This is the go-to in our house. It’s hoppy and dark, and pairs perfectly with everything from BBQ to Pad Thai.
DRAM apothecary Palo Santo Bitters: DRAM is one of the few companies I’ve found that creates alcohol-free bitters, and I love the layered flavor that their Palo Santo bitters give. Even though I enjoy sweet mocktails from time to time, I miss the woody flavor that many alcohols had and these bitters are the perfect scratch for that smoky flavor itch.
H2ops Sparking Hop Water: One of my go-to’s for an outdoor gathering. Sometimes as a non-drinker I don’t want to have to explain myself at a group event. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but from time to time I’m maybe having a hard week and I don’t want to have to explain to every person at a party why I don’t drink. This is why I love this hop-water. The green bottle is not dissimilar to a beer bottle, and at a big event, people won’t even look twice at the label. And the flavor is great too! Strong and hoppy, it’s refreshing and crisp during the long Vegas summers.
Credit: Sober in Vegas