Why the hot new alcohol trend is cutting back — or even quitting

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For Liz Mantel, the wake-up call came when she lost her job last September.

She had worked for years as a client manager in advertising, an industry where, she said, “boozing is a prerequisite for the job.”

“Agencies have bars in the office, and you’re always entertaining clients,” said the 30-year-old from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “[Before the pandemic,] every day included alcohol of some kind — for the job, for dating, for friends.”

Then she lost her job because of the pandemic. Her romantic relationship came to an end. And suddenly she wasn’t spending boozy nights out with friends and colleagues anymore. Mantel decided it was time to “get off the hamster wheel, be more mindful and reassess what I’m doing to my body.”

It started with a 30-day break from alcohol that’s now lasted six months. But now that the weather is warming up and people are getting vaccinated, she didn’t want to give up a good time.

Mantel is one of countless sober-curious New Yorkers fueling the post-pandemic “zero proof” movement: an explosion of booze-free drinks, bottle shops and bars putting a chic spin on teetotaling.

A recent study by the American Psychological Association reported that nearly a quarter of adults were drinking more to manage stress during the pandemic. But, for some, drinking has only exacerbated their physical and mental health problems.

Many, like Mantel, realized they were overdoing it.

“People reexamined a lot of things in their life [over the past year], including how much they drank alcohol,” said Sam Thonis, who opened the booze-free pub Getaway Bar in Greenpoint in 2019. (It turned into a coffee shop and alcohol-free general store during the pandemic, and Thonis plans the bar’s return sometime this spring.)

“I heard somebody put it this way,” he added. “‘COVID wouldn’t make you an alcoholic, but if you had a drinking problem COVID would let you know.’”

Even Chrissy Teigen announced her new sobriety in December, fueled by reading the book “Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol” by New Yorker Holly Whitaker. “I was done with making an ass of myself in front of people (I’m still embarrassed), tired of day drinking and feeling like s–t by 6, not being able to sleep,” Teigen said of her decision.

Meanwhile, some New Yorkers found themselves drinking less since they weren’t going out — and not missing it.

“The pandemic became an opportunity to explore sobriety because there was no social pressure to drink,” said Brooklynite Julia Bainbridge, author of recent release “Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason” (Ten Speed Press).


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