Quitting alcohol? UK restaurant reviewer Giles Coren, who just wrote a long essay on Esquire about his own decision to stop doing drugs and drinking (“[I started in] 1985. And I have been drunk ever since. Haven’t you?”), has many pieces of advice on how to stop sinning so hard. One of them is to replace that lovely devil-water with fake devil-water, which, whatever you want, Giles.
Apparently it’s worked for him, which surprises us because so much of his life revolves around consuming Good Booze and describing how awesome (or how horrible) his experiences are. But with time, even a “Bavaria zero percent wheat beer” sounds like heaven — mostly because our booze-pickled nervous systems have developed a Pavlovian response to anything that remotely resembles beer:
At first, to a hardened beer drinker this shit tastes like a fat bird’s first syrupy piss of the morning. But you get used to it, and you need something ice cold and slightly bitter to crack at 7pm to tell you it’s downtime.
I’ve got so used to this stuff I literally look forward to opening one. And if I think of drinking one any earlier than 7pm, I stop and give myself a good talking-to, on the grounds that I’d better wait till I’ve put my kid to bed.
With time, he even figured out how to skirt social situations that require drinking — by lying (sort of) to his drunk friends:
When you’re out with your mates, be first to get the rounds in (as I hope you are anyway). That way you can loudly herald a night’s drinking, come clinking over to the table with a dozen foaming pints, and only you will know that yours contains two bottles of Beck’s Blue non-alcoholic lager (perfectly drinkable).
Drink the top off it, and then as every further round arrives allow the usual muddle to ensue on the table. With a bit of “whose is this one?” and the occasional subtle bar trip to top yours up, nobody will notice you’re not drinking your pints.
But really, all that matters now is that thanks to these tactics, Coren has lost weight, gotten better skin, and is probably a better lover. Okay, fine, we’ll consider non-alcoholic beer.
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