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With wellness on the rise, a good night out these days is just as likely to entail meeting up with friends for a group meditation class and vegan meal than a bar. Meeting up with the boys is just as likely to be men drinking kava as opposed to a pub. Holidays are increasingly yoga retreats where green juices are the drink of choice.    

Wellness is now considered the fastest growth sector in the entire travel industry and a new report by The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) found that wellness travel (travel with a purpose of improving health and well-being) has grown 74 per cent more than regular global travel. Overall wellness tourism revenues grew an impressive 14 per cent from 2013 to 2015 at US$563 billion. Alcohol-free beverages or ‘grown-up cocktails’ are listed as one of the top 10 food trends for 2016 by various think tanks including Food Management magazine.

People are seeking healthier alternatives. And the positive news is there is a host of fun and vibrant options cropping up all over the globe.

 

DRY BAR MOVEMENT    

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It’s all about the Hour of Happiness at The Alchemist Kitchen in New York, where every Friday evening, folk socialise and sample elixirs and tonics hand-blended on-site from herbal botanicals. Alternatively, why not do a juice crawl through Soho, where friends journey their way through cold-pressed juice bars, a healthier way to socialise and connect.

Across the pond in London, Redemption Bar has opened its second location due to popularity. Its appeal lies in its sexy ambience with exciting mixes such as Bombay Love made with turmeric root, coconut kefir, carrot, lemon and ginger juice and alcohol-free Bavarian beer.

Co-founder Catherine Salway says, “People who come to Redemption are looking to take a night off but without having a night in – a sanctuary away from the perpetual temptation and peer pressure of booze.  It’s also a great place for people who might have had addiction problems in the past to work because it’s a safe environment. I think there is a market for one in every major city.”

Some dry bars go as far to support those with alcohol issues. Sobar in Nottingham operates on a volunteer basis with all the profits going to fund their drug and alcohol recovery services. Similarly, The Brink is Liverpool’s first dry bar serving wellness drinks such as Bombay Sour and Virgin Margaritas – with profits supporting people affected by addiction.

 

CLEAN CLUBS ON THE RISE    

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“Healthy clubs are the new nightclubs,” says Lauren Berlingeri, co-founder of New York wellness company Higher Dose. “We play Burning Man mix tapes, serve kava, and are all about getting folk high naturally.”

Morning Gloryville, for instance, which began in London back in 2013 now hosts events worldwide including Tokyo, New York, Paris, Melbourne and Sydney. These morning raves usually begin at 6.30am and combine energising music with superfood smoothies, organic coffee and free massages to set a positive tone for the day.

Yoga Barn in Bali has hosted alcohol-free Friday Ecstatic Friday and Sunday Dance now for several years. Co-founder Charley Patton says, “The great thing about dancing is the connection we create with each other – all without the unnecessary and detrimental aid of loud nightclubs, cigarette smoke or alcohol. Dance helps remind us of who we truly are.”

From one-day yoga events to music festivals and Burning Man, these are all about connecting in a place where health takes centre stage.

 

THE SOCIAL LUBRICANT    

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While alcohol was previously used to loosen inhibitions, provide confidence to connect with others and boost energy, it has become less popular in some circles. In the UK for instance, a reported 30 per cent refrain from alcohol and millions enroll themselves into Dry January, or Dry July in Australia.

Salway from Redemption Bar says, “There are signs of change. UK politicians have been scratching their heads trying to figure out what to do about problem drinking with measures like minimum pricing, but I think the most powerful change comes from culture. Eighteen- to 24-year-olds are beginning to drink less and bad pubs are going out of business.”

 

MIXED BLESSINGS    

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The good news is that sales of alcohol-free wines and spirits are on the rise such as Seedlip, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, which is a big seller at retailers including Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.

“As the world shifts its focus towards a more conscious attitude to food and drink, Seedlip is an option for what to drink when you’re not drinking,” says founder Ben Branson.

Juice crawls are popular in New York, where similar to the typical pub-crawl, groups of friends journey their way through the cold-pressed juice bar scene of Soho – a healthy way to drink, socialise and connect.

As the wellness movement continues to inspire us to reconsider our lifestyle choices, the trend of alcohol-free ginger beers and cocktails infused with alkalising greens are becoming the norm. Expect to see root vegetable and kimchi cocktails made with fermented vegetable juice, to help one feel energised and rejuvenated. A hangover has never felt so good!

This story was originally published on Asia Spa.