In the 10 years I’ve been alcohol free I’ve been to my fair share of weddings. While it’s always wonderful to be a part of the special couple’s day, I can’t say that toasting the bride and groom is ever much fun as a teetotaller. In fact, as many non-drinkers will probably agree, it’s one of those particularly awkward moments when you feel a bit like you’re letting the side down.
It’s not your fault, of course. The side was unceremoniously let down before you arrived on the scene. Once again, it’s a problem of choice. Despite a truckload of stats that suggest people are looking for alternatives to alcohol in increasing number, those that stock the bars at pubs and events – and that includes weddings – aren’t giving much thought to those of us that choose, for whatever reason, to look for something else.
A brief anecdote for you here, to demonstrate the attitude that those of us looking for positive change are up against. At the Restaurant Show earlier this year, I had the chance to speak with the CEO of a nationwide chain of pubs. When I suggested that non-drinkers weren’t getting much to choose from, he protested, “We give you Diet Coke. What more do you people want?”
It’s worth pausing for a moment and wondering what kind of group he thought he might be lumping me in with. The “you people” in this case could include folk abstaining for any number of reasons: pregnant women (“you people with your ridiculous health needs”), people with addiction concerns (“you people who ought to get a grip”), designated drivers (“you people who worry too much about breaking the law“) or any of the reported 30% of Londoners between 18 and 24 years of age who have simply decided that drinking isn’t for them (“you people who I ought to be paying more attention to if I want to future-proof my business“).
While we appear to live in an age of choice, sometimes we find real limitations in areas that we take for granted. Isn’t it strange that at events as common weddings, a non-drinker still expects to turn up and be offered a choice of sparkling water or apple juice? “Yippee,” you hear us cry across the land. “Time to get the party started!” Just because we’re not drinking it doesn’t mean we don’t want to feel stimulated in some way. There’s a hashtag in use over on Twitter – #DryNotDull – and I think that says it all.
It’s for reasons such as these that I was so keen to be a part of Real Kombucha. Giving people an alcohol-free option is a huge part of why we set our brewery up, and it has been really fulfilling to see people ordering our drinks as a choice for their non-drinking friends at their weddings. In particular, our Royal Flush brew seems to hit the spot at that key toasting moment. Brewed from first flush darjeeling tea (known in India as ‘the Queen of Teas’), and with absolutely no flavourings at all, it pours very much like a Prosecco, and the hints of vanilla and quince that linger on the tongue help to further the similarity. More importantly, it’s a drink that feels special – a drink that lives up to that huge moment without letting the side down.
So, knowing that the amount of non-drinkers in your community is likely to be growing by the day, take a moment to consider real choice when you’re looking at alcohol alternatives for your wedding. Remember, #DryNotDull. Probably better not to be one of those people.
By Jon Wilks.