Life Sans Alcohol: How I Maintain My Social Life and Sobriety

By Christina Zayas
dark haired woman with black sweater and black jeans sitting on table in park

For conversation’s sake, as someone in recovery, I can still “grab a drink” with my friends. While they tend to opt for a booze-induced cocktail, I rely on a simpler drink – sans alcohol. I quit drinking over three years ago, and the day I decided to put down the sauce was the day I decided it was time to burn my old life down. But, did burning it down mean I wasn’t fun anymore, or that I couldn’t go out and would have to hide indoors like a hermit? At first, that’s what I thought. I was convinced I was no fun without alcohol, but after a while, I learned that was false. It was a little white lie I told myself because part of me was scared to engage in social situations without liquid courage. Here’s the truth: you can make plans without alcohol and have an even better time than you would on any night out drinking. PLUS, living a life without hangovers is fantastic!

In the beginning, it took a few months of pushing myself to get to that point, mostly because my work as an Influencer required me to attend events and be social (off the Internet). I was in my head a lot of the time, watching women hold their cocktails ever so elegantly. (Tip: hanging out in your head is a dangerous place for anyone in recovery. Be bold and socialize – you’ll find it isn’t so bad out there.) Then, right before my very eyes, I warmed up to mingling without the ice-breaker drink. So, the funny thing about realizing you don’t need alcohol anymore to approach people is how awe-inspiring it can be to plunge into making new friends.

I was at another work event when I decided to greet an old Instagram acquaintance. Strolling up to her in my clumsiest manner (sobriety didn’t change how awkward I really am), I asked said friend for coffee the following day. Coffee seemed like a brilliant idea because it didn’t require me to fake my desire to hang out in bars. I felt good about my CGD (coffee girl-date) and planned to make more. In fact, I felt so good that I no longer had to step foot in a bar that I came up with a few other handy dandy girl-date ideas

From museum visits at the MoMA to lunch at my favorite chicken and waffles place (Sweet Chick, in Williamsburg), I hit the jackpot on booze-free plan-making. As of today, I have met with girlfriends at cafes to help them with their social media efforts, gone to SoulCycle as a group, ran errands (mostly shopping), and invited a few gal pals to fun work events as my plus-one. What I have come to find is most of my friends are either sober curious or simply not interested in drinking. So, when I invite them out for anything that doesn’t require the consumption of alcoholic beverages, they often seem relieved and delighted. Dear friends, you’re welcome!

If you are testing the waters with a new buddy, start with coffee or tea. It’s the best “day-drinking” option yet! See below for five of my favorite cafes in New York City. P.S. These also work great for first dates with a partner. Good luck!

Top Cafes in NYC for a Sober Date

  1. Butler: 101 N. 8th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249
  2. Urban Backyard: 108 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10012
  3. Maman: 80 Kent Street, New York, NY 11222
  4. REMI Flower & Coffee: 906 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10017

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