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Julia Bainbridge is a James Beard Award–nominated writer and the creator of the Lonely Hour podcast. With the sober-curious movement taking off in recent years, she has become a leading advocate for the lifestyle, and her recent recipe book, Good Drinks, offers a sophisticated and stylish approach to alcohol-free sips. Here, Bainbridge chats about her lifestyle and offers up a must-try recipe.

Photography by Alex Lau

When did you begin your sober-curious journey?

As for alcohol, I think it was around six years ago when I first removed it from my life. This was a time when, serendipitously, alcohol-free cocktails were starting to be taken more seriously. Bartenders were starting to push the boundaries that had previously limited mocktails to syrup-laden juices or glorified Shirley Temples. So much has happened in this space since then. Really, there’s never been a better time to be a nondrinker.

Also, I don’t identify as sober because while I don’t drink alcohol, I’m open to other intoxicants. Technically I’m sober right now as I’m not consuming mood-altering substances, but I do plan on cannabis being a part of my life again in the future. So, out of respect for the sober and recovery communities, I don’t think that label is mine to use.

In what ways has being sober-curious changed your life?

How much time do you have?

What’s the hardest part of living an alcohol-free lifestyle?

When it comes to writing, alcohol can unlock many things for me. I can dip into places that I might not in my sober mind, and I can be freer and looser on the page. I miss that.

What’s the best part?

Being a better lover. And I don’t mean that just in a romantic sense. I’m better to my friends and able to show them all consistent love in a way that they trust. Oh, and waking up headache-free.

Do you have a favorite alcohol-free beverage?

This is still such a new and rapidly evolving way of drinking, and I’m discovering delicious products and recipes all the time. Right now, my two favorite things to drink are Ghia or verjus with tonic or soda water.

Any advice for the sober-curious?

I wouldn’t purport to be able to give anyone advice, but if you’re curious, why not try it? No one’s asking you to make a lifetime commitment — just see how it feels.

Verjus Spritz

From Adam Chase at Corvino Supper Club

I hate to play favorites, but this is one of my go-to recipes because all it requires is the opening and pouring of three ingredients. Plus, I’m a sucker for the soft acidity of white verjus (buy Fusion brand). Since I’m being opinionated here, now might be a good time to share that I detest thin, stringy lemon twists. This garnish has been manicured: It’s peeled with a Y-peeler in order to get some real width, then trimmed on all sides, the top and bottom cut on a bias. Très chic.

2 oz. white verjus
2 oz. soda water
2 oz. tonic water
lemon twist, for garnish

1. Combine verjus, soda water and tonic water in a wine glass filled with ice.
2. Garnish with lemon twist and enjoy.

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