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What I Learned From an Alcohol Hiatus

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If you follow me on Instagram (@amandahesser), you know that I have a feature called “Beer du Jour” where I highlight great craft brews. You may also have noticed that I like an Americano (the Campari cocktail, not the coffee).
Like anyone who gets New York Times emails, in addition to learning what stretches I should do but don’t, and what sunscreen I ought to have been applying for the last 30 years, I’ve been told enough about how alcohol disrupts sleep and energy levels. So I decided to do an experiment and stop drinking alcohol completely—not forever, but at least until I could assess the results. I was curious if I’d sleep more soundly and have more zest. It’s been about six weeks, and I’ve been surprised by the results.
I’ve never been a big drinker, but having a beer or a cocktail at the end of a long work day was part of my evening ritual. And it was challenging to give up! During the first week it took a lot of self talk not to revert to my usual habits. My mind wanted the ritual; my body wanted the alcohol. By the second week, this urge had diminished. My sleep was fine, not amazing. I felt the same in the morning as I always do. What changed, to my surprise, was a sense of calm that came over me. I’m intense (my husband likes to call it “high-revving”), so I appreciate the calming effects of alcohol. But without it in my system for a few weeks, I felt that calmness throughout the day and into the evening. I’m unlikely to cut beer, Americanos—or great Champagne when it’s offered!—from my life forever, but I see it all differently now.

Your New Favorite Classic: The Americano

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It also happens to be a great time to start not drinking alcohol, as nonalcoholic beer has finally gotten good and N/A cocktails are on most menus. In case you, too, don’t drink or want to experiment with abstention, here are some of my preferred wine alternatives and nonalcoholic beers:

Athletic Brewing – They make lots of varieties; Upside Dawn is a consistent fave.

Best Day Brewing – I like their Kolsch.

Kally – They make Early Chardonnay and Early Cabernet as well as sparkling wine-grape-based drinks.

Ghia – An aperitif that’s intense and bitter, making it a great mixer.

Here are some of our best N/A cocktail recipes.

Our 38 Best Nonalcoholic Cocktails for Flavor-Filled, Booze-Free Sipping

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A great N/A cookbook: Good Drinks.
And the glassware I love most.
For beer:

Aaron Probyn Rye Tumblers

Photo by Ty Mecham

Monti Pilsner Glasses

Photo by Ty Mecham

Kinto Cast Everyday Glasses

Photo by Ty Mecham

For cocktails:

LSA Borough Coupe

Photo by Ty Mecham

Serax Inku Ribbed Coupe

Photo by Rocky Luten

César is making pasta salad cool again (you can also make it your own, but the vinaigrette is a keeper!).
Fire up the (pizza) oven—this white pizza from Nea, inspired by Burlington, Vermont’s Folino’s Pizza, is full of surprises: spicy shrimp, creamy aioli, and fresh arugula over pesto.

For our latest That’s Cool, Who Made it?, Paul visited Graphic Image, makers of luxury leather goods for brands like Tiffany and Shinola, and these incredible leather-bound books.

We’ve got quite the collection of great dad’s day gifts. (They’re not all for the grill, either.)

A couple of weeks ago, I asked you to send me your party icebreakers, and as promised, here’s a selection of the best and brightest:
My question at a flagging dinner party is “What is the worst job you have ever had?”
—Louise
So, what’s it like to be you today?
—Craig
I have been known to ask people what was the first rock concert they went to. In my crowd there are some wonderful answers, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Stones, 10 Years After, Bruce Springsteen, etc.
My answer is Janis Joplin/Big Brother.
Always gets the conversations going.
—Lindsay
Tell me something you’re looking forward to
.—Kimberly
One of my fave questions I like to ask is: What is your self-care routine?
*—Holly *
What job would you be worst at?
—Jennifer
Favorite scent?
—Hilary
Share what your first car was.
—@abconover
I like to ask people what they have learned today. As a lifelong academic librarian, I started doing it with students and ask anyone! With couples, I like to ask how they met. It has resulted in very interesting stories!
—Christine
As a teaching artist, I like to start classes and workshops with the question “What was your awesome for the week?” An awesome can be as huge as “My son graduated high school on Sunday!” or as tiny as “I had the BEST hot chocolate at Pour on Friday morning!” It’s a great way to create community and connection, and tends to foster a closeness in my groups that might not otherwise be present. Also, people have told me that they start to notice things all week that they might not have noticed; they are “gathering their awesomes,” as it were. It’s a great way to ignite an attitude of gratitude.
—Jamie, a huge Food52 fan!
Mine would be “Where is the exit?”
Long time introvert!
—Rosemary
Hang in there, Rosemary! And I’ll see the rest of you next week!
Amanda

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