Do we really want alcohol – or just a treat?

Sidecar Cocktail
photo credit:TheCulinaryGeek

Due to my other half suffering from a spectacular bout of food poisoning on valentine’s day (romantic I know), we went out last night for a belated celebration. With an exquisite lack of foresight we decided not to book (Friday night at 7pm – always a quiet time in city centre restaurants! duh). Optimistically, off we trotted to an independent Mexican in Leeds (Las Iguanas) and, unsurprisingly, we were met with a look of disdain and told to wait in the bar.

Now, I’ve been teetotal for nearly a year and three months (minus a three week booze-up over christmas) and I’ve celebrated all kinds during that time. Weddings, birthdays, New Year’s Eve, anniversaries, a new job, you name it. And there’s always been that nagging sense that celebration = alcohol. And so it was last night. We went through to the restaurant bar and were met with an array of spirits, beers, wine and cocktails. A sense of longing and deprivation surged up inside me. “It’s Valentine’s Day!” it said (well sort of). “I deserve a drink!” I didn’t want anything in particular. I just felt that as it was Valentine’s Day, I should have something alcoholic and a lemonade or J20 would be, well, a bit rubbish.

But then I found the ‘mocktail’ section of the menu – and somehow this felt different. Multiple ingredients, reassuringly expensive, served in a fancy glass and described using satisfyingly elegant language. I forked out three quid for what was basically dressed up fruit juice, and I was satisfied. It was Valentine’s Day; I had my fancy drink. One I didn’t usually drink and was something of a splurge. I no longer felt deprived.

Why is this? Is it just me? Are you reading this thinking ‘what a ridiculous story – there’s no way a mocktail is as good as a glass of wine’? Or is drinking really just an expression of our need to ‘treat’ ourselves after the stresses and strains of life? Let me know!

(By the way, if you’re interested, I totally pied out on four fajitas with extra cheese and a pudding – totally worth it!)

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5 thoughts on “Do we really want alcohol – or just a treat?

  1. i love this post, and you are defiantly not alone! i feel fine if i’m out and have a drink in my hand that at least looks like an alcoholic drink. that way i a) don’t get hassled about not drinking and b) feel like a ‘normal’ person. Numerous studies have even shown that by just thinking we are drinking alcohol our brains can change and we feel the effects, such as memory loss. i wonder if we can even fake ourselves into having a hangover. i hope not…

    • Wow that’s really interesting – almost like alcohol is a placebo. I always find that if I have an ‘interesting’ looking drink in my hand (like a fake cocktail etc) I tend to feel more uninhibited and do things like dancing in 80s bars (the other weekend… ahem) which I would never normally do! I also agree that it stops the hassling – although it’s a real bug-bear of mine that we get hassled simply for not drinking! Why can’t people accept it?

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. I totally understand this post! I have been opting for a REAL dessert instead of ordering a liquid (alcohol) dessert when I am out to dinner.

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