By Vanessa Royle

Toasting to My Health

Today I am “toasting to my health.” What an interesting turn of phrase. Often an oxymoron, considering that most toasts involve alcohol. But for me, and a growing wave of consumers, alcohol is no longer part of that gathering ritual. 

Since giving up alcohol four years ago, so much has changed for me personally. I feel like a completely different person—I’ve grown my confidence, resilience, and ability to say “no." I no longer need alcohol to feel comfortable in social settings, and I feel better mentally and physically than I did in my 20s. I no longer waste my weekends nursing a hangover on my corduroy couch, or managing hangxiety that feels beyond my control. If I want to partake in bed rotting, I do so willingly and purposefully, on that same corduroy couch, and without anxiety and regret. 

It hasn’t been the easiest journey. It’s taken a lot of introspection to figure out who I am and what I enjoy doing without the regular bar hopping, wine tasting, and parties that used to fill my weekends. The outcome of that work has been improved relationships, a better understanding of my mental health, an appreciation for the natural world, and a new set of hobbies.

Thankfully, the last four years have seen a huge change in the conversations and choices of the people around me. When I first quit drinking, many people were surprised, and I would regularly have complete strangers prying about my reasoning for giving up alcohol. I expected it from friends and family and would willingly share my thought process. But it always felt a bit odd when a professor, classmate, or potential employer questioned why I’d given up drinking. And anyone who’d also given it up seemed to share with me in an almost confessorial way, in hushed tones. 

Now, when I discuss my decision to stop drinking, or showcase Tilden at an event, people are proud to share that they, too, are taking a break or cutting back. If nothing else, they know someone who they were surprised to learn doesn’t drink, and so often those someones are younger and more tapped in. 

What’s become increasingly rare are the scoffs when I share that our drinks don’t contain alcohol. Just a year ago, I felt regularly demoralized coming home from tastings after dealing with customers who couldn’t fathom a sophisticated non-alc drink. But just last weekend, I popped-up at a market in Summerland, CA where I sold out and had fun doing it. Instead of rolling their eyes at the idea of a non-alc cocktail, people were genuinely excited to discover something new, and to share Tilden with their friends. These anecdotes are backed by data — according to a 2024 survey by NCSolutions, 41% of American adults plan to drink less in 2024. 

As I reflect on these last four years, I’m thankful to be part of a movement of people looking for options that truly meet their needs, and I’m thankful that the stigma around sobriety seems to be fading. I still have moments and days when I crave a crisp glass of wine or something to take the edge off, but I no longer feel alone in my journey or without options. I’m never the only one not drinking at a gathering, and rarely do I have to explain why. Now, I enjoy my Tandem, always in a coupe glass, with a smile on my face. What a difference four years makes. 

We’ll raise a (Tilden) toast to that!