Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition (BAPC) held its first annual May Day Mocktail Contest and Dance Party on Wednesday, May 1, at the 118 Elliot Street Gallery. The event honored around 50 people in the Brattleboro area who signed up to take a break from drinking for BAPC’s first “Alcohol-Free April” challenge.
“Because alcohol is so prevalent in our society and our community, BAPC really wanted to use April, which is Alcohol Awareness Month, to encourage people to try to see what a month without alcohol would actually feel like,” says Cassandra Holloway, Director of BAPC. “For some, drinking alcohol can become an almost unconscious habit and we wanted to support those interested in taking the challenge and also celebrate their efforts and successes. It really is geared to be inclusive for ALL, from people looking to take a break to people in recovery”
The event, which attracted dozens of people of all ages, featured music, dancing and the sharing – and imbibing! – of a wide variety of sumptuous mocktails, hand-crafted by Brattleboro area restaurants Duo, Twin Flames, India Masala House, Echo and the Whetstone Station. By the end of the night, participants voted on their favorite mocktail, with Twin Flames winning the “Best Mocktail in Brattleboro” award for the “Twin Flames Tiki Punch.” The concoction comprised cantaloupe, hibiscus, peach purée, and mint. Whetstone Station was the runner-up, in a very close finish, with its libation, “Coast-to-Coast Trouble,” a blend of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, slapped mint, muddled lime, and a splash of ginger beer.
Other amazing drinks of the evening included India Masala House’s spicy-tangy “Green Mango Masala,” made with cumin, jaggery and a medley of peppers; Echo’s “Sugar and Spice” mocktail with blood orange, rosemary, lemon-lime aide and a touch of chili pepper simple syrup; and Dou’s flowery “Tamarind Bloom,” with rose, lilac, tamarind, lime, and soda water.
In addition to tasting and voting on delicious mocktails, event attendees shared their experiences of what it was like to avoid drinking for 30 days as part of an open mic portion of the evening. Many spoke of how they were not sure if they could quit for the month, but wanted to try it, anyway. “I thought, what does it mean about my drinking that I am not even sure I can do it?” one participant told the crowd, explaining this was why she decided to partner up with a relative and take the challenge. A number of other participants said they had also buddied up with a spouse, a friend, or a family member for support in completing “Alcohol-Free April.” Some participants spoke of how hard it was to avoid drinking in the first days of the challenge, but found themselves not even wanting to drink by the end of the month. “I had a difficult time the first two weeks,” a second attendee said. “But by the end of it, I didn’t want to drink at all.”
“One of the most powerful moments of the evening was hearing directly from people who took the challenge and how it changed their lives in ways they did not expect,” says Holloway. “Many did not realize there were real benefits to not drinking. Others found they had renewed energy, improved sleep or rediscovered activities they enjoyed that did not involve alcohol. Many also said that just knowing there were dozens of other people doing the challenge right along with them – that they were part of a larger group – helped them successfully complete it.”
At the end of the evening, participants of “Alcohol-Free April” agreed that the challenge boosted confidence and left them feeling grateful, proud, and able to tackle other parts of their lives with fresh vigor and optimism. “Now that I no longer need to drink,” one person said, “I’m going to take on some other challenges I’ve been putting off in my life.”
Sponsored by Park Place Financial Advisors and Brattleboro Savings & Loan, BAPC’s 30-day “Alcohol-Free April” challenge will be held again next year and is intended for anyone who wishes to take a break from drinking for one month. The aim of the challenge is to get people to think more consciously about their drinking habits – especially after the winter holidays and ahead of the summer. BAPC would also like to extend a very special thanks to Lissa Weinman and Desmond Peeples of 118 Elliot Street for helping us to make this event possible.
The “Alcohol-Free April” (AFA) challenge will take place again next year, with many current participants already pledging to rejoin. If you’d like to sign up for AFA 2020, just send a note to the BAPC Facebook page or Twitter feed, or check out our website at www.bapc802.com.