Hi there, I'm Lisa the founder & owner of ANA Drinks a dedicated non-alcoholic bottleshop in Adelaide and yes you read the title of this blog correctly: I still drink alcohol. Now I know what some of you were thinking - that doesn't make sense, why would you open a dedicated non-alcoholic drinks business if you still drink alcohol?
Well my friends, let me tell you my story.
Like many of us when I turned 18 I loved to get on the drink. I drank to get drunk and partied to all hours of the morning during my time at university. Fast forward a few more years and I entered the workforce with a diversity of people of all age demographics I found myself to be a bit more sophisticated and I loved it. The after work wines with my work colleagues, the Saturday night cocktails with my girlfriends and family dinner on Sunday always had wine. Let's not forget if my loving partner made a steak and vege dinner mid week I'd be racing to the bottle O for a nice bottle of hearty shiraz. If you do this on repeat you might start notice a couple of things that I did.
Firstly, at some point every week I was a little bit dusty. Not severely hungover (god no, that would be irresponsible of me...) but the enough for me to reach for a second coffee by 11am and complain that I was a bit more tired than usual. Work became a bit of slog and I'd hit that 3pm wall hard and have another coffee. I was constantly low energy. I'll be honest, I just thought this was normal and a part of getting old... I would joke and play this down all the time. The second thing you might notice is that you have bad sleep. I would often toss and turn or get broken sleep. Forget it if you sleep with a partner that was also on the drink that night, we would both be uncomfortable. Third, is the munchies. Now I know not everyone gets this, but I start to craving something carby or salty if I am about 3-4 drinks in. Did I need that bowl of chips? No. But if I ordered it for the table to share then it's okay right? I would always give into my cravings and honestly, I would not be surprised if that little bit extra around my waist was thank to all those drunken chippies. The last thing, was the hangover the next day if I did go out hard. This was a bit of a rarity as I got older, but it would wreck me and I would lose days to doing nothing but laying in bed or on the couch. Forget doing laundry, groceries or cleaning the house. Nothing was getting done on Sunday if I had a big Friday or Saturday night. I would hate myself that I now had to spend the next week playing catch up.
So in 2021 after a massive bender over the Christmas festive season, my partner and I decided to take a break, to detox from alcohol and we both committed to 3 months. Now, we both love the ritual of having a drink after work or with dinner so we embarked on looking for alternatives and honestly, it was the best thing we ever did. We had our first good non-alcoholic beer at the Scenic Hotel in the Adelaide Hills after asking the staff what their non-alcoholic options were. Little shout out to Bridge Road Brewers and their Free Time Pale Ale, that was the beer that converted us and made us go: Holy shit, this is the real deal. I couldn't believe how similar or how good it tasted. We were two beers in and didn't feel any bloating and literally got in the car and drove home feeling amazing. That wasn't the moment that I said we should start a non-alcoholic bottleshop, but it was the moment I became a believer in what the non-alcoholic category can do to the drinking culture in Australia and how it could help improve my life balance. We started trying more and more products: wines, beers, spirits and pre-mixes and most of them were great or at the very least decent. After 3 months off the booze we noticed that were better versions of our physical and mental selves. We got better sleep, more consistent energy levels and less cravings. The one thing that didn't change was that we were still enjoying our time out, we still got to hang out with our friends who might have been drinking, we still went to dinners and had a glass in hand, but we didn't have to compromise tomorrow. And for anyone that has a stressful job, has kids or lead a busy life there is nothing worse than waking up and feeling shit when you have a long list of things to get done.
So after listing all the positive things about being sober, why do I still drink? Well, because I enjoy a good glass of wine once in a while. It's actually as simple as that. If I'm at a wedding, a birthday or a special night out I might let myself enjoy a glass of bubbles or red guilt free. I now drink non-alcoholic drinks mid week, I catch up with friends often over a non-alcoholic beer or wine and family dinners can be a mix of both now. Everyone's journey is different, and having now run the shop for close to 12 months, I've noticed that non-alcoholic drinks is not just for sober or pregnant people. Non-alcoholic drinks can service a wider audience and can be enjoyed easily in any lifestyle. Thanks to the non-alcoholic category I have found a better life balance and am more mindful when and what I choose to drink. I think Australia is shifting to drinking culture that embodies both alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks and that more people are openly drinking non-alcoholic drinks in public and private. It's okay to drink both and have healthy balance between the two. If that healthy balance is cutting it out completely then all the more better and more power to you. Sobriety is not boring, it's normal and we all know someone that is drinking less or not drinking all together. It could be your parents, siblings, relatives, friends or even partner.
The reason why I started the business was actually to bring together the very best non-alcoholic options in Australia to one place to make it easier for you to find quality drinks that works for you and your goals around drinking. At the time of writing blog this I was sitting in the store and a customer came in and said this to me: "This may seem silly, but I'm just trying to find good options to help cut back my drinking from 6 days a week to 4, I'm not trying to go completely sober or anything..." this comment is not silly. I speak with so many people daily that are trying to do the same thing, I mean I did something similar myself almost 2 years ago! Point being is that I think its becoming normal to like alcoholic & non-alcoholic drinks. There's no shame or stigma if you choose to drink both and I hope that by sharing my story; that more people feel empowered and less embarrassed to be more open about their drinking experiences in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Owner & Founder of ANA Drinks
First dedicated non-alcoholic bottleshop in South Australia
PS: As a final note and disclaimer: I acknowledge that everyone's experience with alcohol is different and to be respected. I understand moderation can be harder for some than others and this blog purely touches on my personal opinion and experience.