Despite the tidal wave of craft beers and the exciting new innovations in nightlife entertainment, research suggests that young people are actually drinking significantly less. They’re not 100 percent sober, of course, but according to recent studies by research group Monitoring the Future out of the University of Michigan, drinking in teens and young adults is down significantly since the 1990s.
Some have speculated that the advent of smartphones and the internet has driven social interaction in wild new directions, and therefore away from the need to drink to feel social. Instead of using alcohol as an excuse to hang out, or something to do while you spend time together, people are shying away from that sense of need and are seeking each other out on their own. Whether it’s because they’re paying more attention to their mental health, or because they can’t afford to party every night like the previous generation likes to assume, it’s hard to say.
They’re heading up an entirely new trend in its place, though. Instead of drinking regularly and heavily, they’re being what’s called Sober Curious. They want to experience the experimentation of cocktails and unique flavors, but they don’t want to get drunk doing so. So, in some unique nonalcoholic lounges and in bars across the country, people are ordering mixed drinks of a different variety. From exotic ingredients like pea blossoms to rural classics turned on their heads like celery and soda, these drinks are just as intense and flavorful as any strong cocktail, but you won’t wake up in the morning regretting them.
This is a great trend for future health, but it’s impacts on the alcohol industry, and on the nightlife of our local East Lansing community, is currently very hard to predict. Maybe we’ll see more lounges, coffee shops and social calls to the movies or museums in the next few years, or at least more virgin offerings at Rick’s or Harpers. It’s hard to say, but we will be getting a new axe-throwing, go-karting hangout at the end of August, so the nightlife is already looking up for the sober curious.