A guide on how to navigate not drinking booze in the corporate world

Luke and Emmi of Torstig. Official Bar of Dry January® | January 2024 | 8 minutes

Going alcohol-free in the corporate universe can feel strange and isolating. It feels as though decisions are still being made down the pub and away from you, in an old-timey parallel universe of pints, pinstripe suits and greying hair.

When we both quit the booze, it was a stark and sudden change that left us feeling scared that we would be missing out on the fun, but also worried that we would be missing out on that next promotion or big break.

Building business relationships can seem difficult, especially without the social lubricant of a couple of pints, coupled with the often rubbish AF selection in the pubs, it’s hard to not just stay at home and avoid it all together.

If this feels familiar, do not despair, there is a way forward! We’ve developed a toolkit to help you feel confident off the booze, to wear your alcohol-free choices with valour in a way in which you’re still fun, engaged but maintain that control you’ve chosen to keep. We both still work in the corporate world with nearly 25 years' experience between us.

We have been big drinkers, got ourselves into unsafe and embarrassing situations. But more recently, we’ve pulled back from that lifestyle. We’ve been lucky in that we’ve been able to support each other through this journey and we’ve also been able to learn a lot by sharing our tricks for that big work night out. We’ve also enabled each other to stay grounded and non-judgemental, we aren’t here to criticise other people’s choices on alcohol but try to enjoy life with the choices we’ve made for ourselves.

There are so many tips and tricks that we’ve collected over the last couple of years, but here is our collective top 3:

Let people know you don’t drink

This is not about shouting it from the rooftops, but you can really help yourself by being open and confident about your choice. Before a work event or party, let the organisers know you don’t drink - this can be as easy as responding to the invite with a quick email. This will greatly increase your chances of having better AF options. Because we don’t drink alcohol, it seems obvious to us, but sadly not everyone is quite as on the ball! Recently Luke let his Christmas party committee know he doesn’t drink booze and during the meal he was served two AF wines and for the evening he had AF beers and spirits all night long. This really improves your mood for the night ahead and helps calm those pre-event nerves.

The art of conversation is dead, but you can bring it back 

Have you ever listened to a drunk conversation?! Not much is ever really said! The art of conversation is actually really difficult, it’s one of the main reasons people turn to booze at a social event. In the beginning, learning to meet new people and have small talk with them is hard when sober. People who drink alcohol don’t really ever need to learn this skill, so use this to your advantage. Be patient and keep trying, it gets easier exponentially. You can turn it on, flex your new skills and all of a sudden, the art of conversation has become your SUPERPOWER.

Ordering with confidence will get you far

Understanding alcohol free drinks and the types of drinks that are available for you, will give you that boost of confidence you need to walk up to the bar and ask for what you want. Explore new drinks at home or try new drinks in an alcohol-free bar like Torstig. Even sharing recommendations with colleagues will help to boost yourself assurance - it’ll even impress them that you have taken such an interest into your new lifestyle. It may even help someone else around you take the plunge and go AF too! You’d be surprised by how many people prefer not to drink but find it easier to continue to. They haven’t mastered the confidence you’ve got - but you may just change that.

Being confident in your alcohol-free decision will help you to embrace your lifestyle. Be straight up and open about your choices as it’ll give you the best experience, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’ll feel brave enough to meet new people, spark up in conversations and even change perceptions.

Torstig’s flagship bar is based in Brighton, but this coming January, Torstig will be bringing their innovative concept to London’s Hoxton from 5th – 20th January for a pop-up event.

To find out more, visit Torstig’s website