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2017 is the year for mindful drinking


  • Picture of Laura Willoughby FRSA
    Laura Willoughby FRSA
    Co-founder of Club Soda - creating a world where nobody feels out of place if they are not drinking.
  • Behaviour change
  • Fellowship

Things are shifting in Britain when it comes to alcohol: one in four young people are teetotal, and over five million people are actively trying to moderate their drinking in some way. Slowly but surely, reevaluating the amount you drink has become socially acceptable and in some ways desirable. On top of this, as the New Year rears its head, over two million people will quit booze for a month in January.

However, many people still fear a trip to the pub is too difficult if they are cutting down or don’t drink at all. Which is a big shame. According to CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), we are losing pubs at a rate of 29 every week - yet they are still our primary socialising spaces.

Club Soda has found that the needs of more mindful drinkers are often not considered in their local pub. Care and attention taken on the selection of beers and wines is not extended to the alcohol-free options. Following their behavioural research into why pubs behave in this way, Club Soda has launched the Club Soda Guide as a way to nudge pubs to think a bit more creatively.

In partnership with charity Blenheim, and funded by Hackney Council, the City of London, the Big Lottery Fund, and the RSA Catalyst Fund, the Club Soda Guide rates over 200 of the best pubs and bars. Each venue inputs what they stock and gets a score out of five, based on their range of low and no alcohol drinks.

Our hypothesis is that having the scores on public display, and providing a way for customers to review the venues too, will provide the right amount of recognition and pressure for pubs to improve their low and no alcohol offerings. In addition to the score, there are several other behaviour change “nudges” built into the Guide website. The site provides information and advice to pubs about low and no alcohol drinks, how to upsell  them, and best practice case studies. Club Soda will be rewarding the top venues in February and are planning to go nationwide with the Guide later in 2017.

Join our mindful pubcrawl

To accompany the launch, we are challenging Londoners to do a ‘Mindful Pub Crawl’.

Instead of staying inside waiting for the first of February, we want those doing Dry January, those cutting down, and even those who have quit alcohol completely to come along and discover some great hidden gems.

Anyone can run their own Mindful Pub Crawl and order a free pack which includes drink ideas, loads of pub games, pencils, and “design your own” beer mats.

Or you can join one of the Club Soda Crawls. The launch Mindful Pub Crawl is on Thursday 5 January from 7pm at the five star rated Draft House on Plough Place, in the City of London.

Mindful drinking is an attitude

We know that people can change the way they think and feel about alcohol. Mindful drinking could be choosing a lower percentage drink, cutting down for a week, doing a sober sprint, or even going alcohol free.

We have identified seven habits of highly mindful drinkers:

1. Plan - Winging and mindfulness don’t go so well together. Look for pubs and bars with great low and no alcohol drinks.  

2. Don’t panic - Don’t let a flash of indecision make you fall back on ‘the usual’.

3. Fake it - Sometimes you just don’t want another boring conversation about why you are not having a ‘proper’ drink. So fly below the radar. Pimp your water, drink an alcohol-free beer, or have a G&T without the G.

4. Assess your mood - Drinking when you're happy can be great. But drinking when you're lonely, tired, and emotional? You know how that ends.

5. Stick to your guns - You don’t need anyone’s permission to make a decision that is right for you. No one has the right to persuade you otherwise.

6. Safety in numbers - When you start to look around, you realise how many people aren't drinking. Seek them out, and go out together.

7. Be an active customer - If we want our pubs to stay on the high street, we need to stay friends. So ask them to stock your favourite non-alcoholic beers or craft sodas.

Find out more  on the Club Soda website

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