A Dry Spell During The Holiday Season: Smart Or Stupid?

Is the true definition of insanity cutting down on alcohol during the Christmas/New Year’s Eve holiday season?

I strongly suspect so, for I’m in my second week of a self-imposed mid-week alcohol ban and it’s making me quite cranky indeed and occupying far too much of my thoughts.

RELATED: How To Calculate The Alchohol Content In Cocktails

While my loved ones overindulge, as is the norm this time of year, I’ve been left staring into my mineral water, willing it to be vodka instead, with a face like a dropped pie.

It ain’t no fun being sober, while everyone around you is tipsy. And I’m a lush from way back – I love me a drink, always have, indeed it’s an occupational hazard of being a journalist.

Y’ know in the old movies, when the journalist character (almost always a man, Lois Lane aside) is wearing an old hat, drinking hard liquor from his hip pocket and chain-smoking as if his life depended on it?

Well, many many journalists still do this even today, if a tamed-down version minus the millinery and cancer sticks. It’s the stress of the job – or something like that – at least, that’s what we tell ourselves and each other.

dry spell, alcohol issues, New Year's Eve

No one is making me cut down on the demon drink – it’s just that, after a very long and loyal relationship with it, I’ve decided we need to break up, if only Sunday-Thursday.

On the other two days of the week, I shall heartily enjoy a few glasses of my beloved red wine with gusto, in a tidy and contained fashion, unlike days of old when I too felt like I was positively swimming in a champagne glass, ala burlesque star Dita Von Teese (pictured below) – OK, not quite.

My reasons for mid-week sobriety – or drinking more in moderation – include: the horror of turning 40 earlier this year and the awful, accompanying realisation I can no longer party like I’m in my 30s; the sobering health impact of excess, such as a few minor health scares this year and the fact that I’m really bloody determined to shed 5kg in order to be my best self.

I also realised – like many mothers, as is completely understandable – I was perhaps overdoing the “I’m-a-stressed-out-mum-of-toddlers-I-need-a-drink-or-two-to-unwind routine.”

And when I – gasp – actually somewhat stupidly answered my GP’s: “How many alcohol units do you consume a week?” question honestly (who does that?!), her raised eyebrow and stern warning about the health impacts of alcohol were enough to see me abstain, and fast.

dry spell, alcohol issues, New Year's Eve

So, instead of using alcohol as a crutch to unwind, I’m now exercising my arse off even more than I did before and I’m giving mindfulness and meditation a red-hot go.

My new Sunday-Thursday alcohol ban is also saving me lots of unwanted calories and so I’ve already lost weight as a result.

What’s more, I feel empowered and strong and quite proud of my dry-spell efforts, even if – yes – I did give in to a glass of Moet at Christmas, as you do.

I’ll never completely give up the demon drink, but I really need to take stock of my drinking so I’m still around to see my children’s children. What’s more, I’ve only really grasped, at 40, the importance of living your best life.

So, for now, it’s learning to temper my short-temper when family and friends around me are still partying like it’s 1999 and striving to love my mineral water, with a twist of lemon.

What do you think? Have you ever cut down on alcohol during the silly season? Any tips?

Main image via; secondary image via and final image via

How To Calculate The Alcohol Content In Cocktails

Keeping track of how much alcohol you are drinking can be a bit tricky when you are out and about having a good time. Pubs and clubs have measured serves which makes things a bit easier, but what about home made cocktails like the recipes we regularly supply our readers?

A good rule of thumb is that the body absorbs 7-12 ml of alcohol per hour. A standard drink in Australia is considered to be 10 gms or about 12.5mls of alcohol. So, depending on various factors a standard drink per hour should keep you relatively sober. Please be aware though, that the more alcohol you consume the harder it is for your body to absorb. The first drink you have should be absorbed into your body in about an hour, but the second will take longer. It’s all science related and not an exact science at that!

Now, the type of factors which affect alcohol absorption include the following:

  • How fast you drink
  • The amount of food in your stomach
  • Your weight
  • Amount of fat or muscle your body consists of
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Other medications and drugs in your body
  • Other chemicals in the drink. eg: Jäger Bombs
  • Foods consumed
  • Your drinking history and tolerance
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Current emotional state

With all these variables it’s impossible to know how the alcohol is reacting within your body. Cocktails can be especially tricky, particularly if they are created without a measure. They also consist of a mixture and some have chemical ingredients like caffeine. Since caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, the two can have different side effects. This is what makes them so potent and care should be taken when consuming them. The caffeine itself doesn’t have an alcohol content, but it can affect the alcohol being consumed.

Having gotten through that, I’ll fill you in on an easy way to work out how much alcohol you’re consuming in your cocktails as well as giving you a couple of easy examples to follow.

First look at the percentage of alcohol on the bottle used to make the cocktail. Most have at least 1 regular spirit which is usually 40% alcohol. Next, you need the serving size of the alcohol only, not the serving size of the entire drink. A full nip is usually 30 ml so multiply this with the alcohol percentage. Remember when you multiply a percentage it is not a whole number so you multiply the serving size by the decimal point (0.4). To work out the standard drink size, divide it by the Australian standard of 12.5 ml. Viola!

Here’s a couple of examples:

  • Full nip (30ml) of 40% alcohol bourbon = 30 x 0.40 = 12.00ml alcohol
    12.00ml / 12.50ml = 0.96 standard drinks.
  • 150ml glass of 11.5% alcohol wine = 180 x 0.115 = 17.25ml alcohol
    17.25ml/12.50ml = 1.38 standard drinks

You can use this formula to work out the alcohol content in every drink you consume. The final thing I want to mention which will help you with all this is the oz to ml conversion. You don’t need exact figures so, if you remember 1 oz = 30 ml, you’ll be right!

Now you have all the tools you need to keep track of how much alcohol you are consuming in your cocktails. A final tip is to do calculations before you start drinking for obvious reasons.


Image via