This holiday season, skip the rum-spiked egg nog and hard apple cider — opt instead for a Vienna Soother or a Lime Rickey, drinks that will surely give you a buzz without the booze.
With a fully-stocked bar in the background of Tycoon’s Restaurant Monday, New Haven’s Office of Substance Abuse Policy and Prevention served up festive, non-alcoholic drinks like Playwright Punch and Candy Cane Cocoa from their new recipe book “Buzz Without the Booze.” OSAPP launched a campaign to offer “fun and refreshing” non-alcoholic drink recipes for year-round gatherings, and the holidays especially.
“This is definitely a book that offers ideas around giving a range of choices,” OSAPP Director Esther Armmand, a former New Haven alderwoman, said. “It’s about expanding choices. Hopefully we’ll begin to look at events as places where you can offer alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages.”
Other local restaurants such as Zinc, Bentara, and Atticus submitted recipes for the book, which will be distributed in various shops and restaurants.
Local celebrities were on hand Monday afternoon to test the festive un-spirited spirits. The Raspberry Royale, a mixture of raspberry syrup and your favorite non-alcoholic champagne and Playwright Punch — a tropical mix of cranberry, pineapple, and orange juice with a splash of lemon-lime soda — were favorites. But one celebrity, WTNH Channel 8’s new meteorologist Matt Scott, said after reporting such cold weather these last few months, the warmer drinks were welcome.
“My favorite drink hands down is the Candy Cane Cocoa,” Scott said. “Given the cold weather we’ve had of late, I’m biased to cold drinks.”
With the rampant underage drinking many report in New Haven and its surrounding communities, OSAPP leaders said they hope this campaign will decrease the dangerous risks that come with alcoholic beverages.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea, particularly with drinking starting at such a young age,” said Sheila Allen Bell, the city’s community services administrator. “And, Raspberry Royale is my favorite — it’s a nice fruity-tasting drink with an alcohol-free champagne base.”
Although OSAPP leaders said the booklet was designed in part with young people in mind, they said it is also aimed at helping residents in low-income communities prevent alcoholism.
“Addictions are part of the society, but we want to reduce substance abuse,” said Tom Ficklin, director of marketing and communication at Empower New Haven, Inc., an organization concerned with employment opportunities for disadvantaged residents. “It helps our residents to be more productive and the employers to reward them.”
Yale-New Haven Hospital, one of the organizations backing the booklet, has seen an increasing number of students come into its emergency department, usually caused by consumption of too much alcohol, said John Schriver, chief of emergency medicine at the hospital and an OSAPP commissioner.
Last year, nearly a handful of Quinnipiac University students were killed in alcohol-related incidents, Schriver said.
OSAPP commissioners said this campaign is an opportunity to reach young people and provide them with a festive alternative to alcohol.
“It’s a message that needs to go out to our communities to give the idea that there are options and choices to make when it comes to the consumption of alcoholic beverages,” said Miguel Caldern, chair for the OSAPP commission and executive director of Crossroads, Inc., a New Haven residential treatment facility. “As we get closer to the holidays, people can be more secure and play a lot safer by avoiding unnecessary risks.”
And playing safely is what OSAPP leaders hope this campaign will convince young people to do.
“There are many ways to have fun and to get a buzz without needing the booze,” Caldern said.