Fran Bailey, 37, is a PR director and the founder of Mindful Mixers, a community for people getting curious about a life with less booze. Ending the notion that sober is boring once and for all, Fran has given up drinking – and is no less of a party animal…
Why did you decide to give up drinking?
Alcohol was turning me into a person I didn’t really like and the hangovers were making me feel worthless. The negative self talk and self loathing the next day outweighed the fun times. So I decided to stop for a bit. I wasn’t giving myself a deadline, a target or counting my days. I just decided I didn’t want it in my life at that point. And it kind of stuck.
Do you think it is forever?
Not sure. I prefer not to put a label or expectation on it. But I definitely like myself more when I don’t drink. The term ‘Sober Curious’ is more my cup of tea (taken from Ruby Warrington). It takes the pressure off.
How was your first night out without drinking?
Certain occasions at the beginning were harder than others. Like going to a boozy charity supper club sober AND solo. The social anxiety was off the charts, as I only knew the host. I downed a Seedlip & Tonic from my drinks trolley in a desperate bid for some dutch courage. It didn’t have the same effect. I was so close to making up a lame excuse not to go. In the end I made some new friends and didn’t touch a drop.
Do you like to party still?
Definitely! That’s why a friend and I started up Mindful Mixers – Toni and I had a mutual love for partying and coincidentally found ourselves playing with sobriety at the same time. We hated the idea that not drinking alcohol meant you couldn’t have fun. We wanted to show people you can drink less booze and still have an epic night out.
Where do you go out? And how often?
Having worked in the drinks industry, I love checking out new cocktail bars and we’re so lucky in London with the number of places diversifying their no-low drinks menus. It truly rivals any city in the world. I’m usually out every week or two with friends or my boyfriend, who works in hospitality. But I’m equally happy spending Saturday night doing a cacao ceremony or sound bath session. And of course, with Mindful Mixers we do supper clubs and we’re hosting a summer series of No-Low Happy Hours (after work drinks) at cool places around town – starting at new canteen & bar, Fare, in Clerkenwell.
Has it made you more ‘boring’?
Boring wasn’t an option for me. It’s not how I roll. To me, life is only boring if you choose it to be. You get out, what you put in – so to say. My first two months sober were epic – I still went to supper clubs, organised boozy brunches for friends, went to Karaoke Box (which I loved, I could keep up with the lyrics!), Magic Mike Live (not as good as the Vegas show, FYI), a Ministry of Sound gig. I loved (and remembered) every minute.
Has it made you happier?
100 per cent.
How is partying sober different?
I’m more choosy about who I go out with, I know when it’s time to go home, and I don’t spend as much!
What do you drink instead on a night out?
Before I go out to a gig or dancing I make a Seedlip Espresso Martini, and I might throw in some medicinal mushrooms. I like a Ceder’s & Tonic for a more chilled eve out with friends. If its a street food market or festival and options are sparse, I go for sparkling water or Karma Cola. I can’t do sickly ‘mocktails’ and overly sweet drinks. But mostly I try to influence where we go based on the place having interesting zero proof options. It makes going out more special when you can have a new drinking experience.
What do your friends think about it?
I was most worried about what my ‘Las Vegas girl crew’ would think, as we’ve travelled and done some epic big weekends abroad largely based around partying and booze. But they said I seemed happier. Others say I’m not as moody. Naturally, I stopped being around those who berated me for not drinking. There weren’t many.
Advice to anyone thinking about going sober?
Fill the void with something that sparks your curiosity. I got obsessive about adaptogens, plant medicines and nootropics – ways to supercharge my brain and get high my own supply. It was game-changing. And just do your own thing, don’t worry about what others say or do.
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Charlotte is a London girl through and through. She sweats through spin and puffs through Pilates to justify trying the latest restaurants and devouring copious amounts of sweet potato fries, burrata and bread – preferably on holiday. Her favourite destinations include Italy, the Maldives and anywhere where the sun’s shining and there’s a strong breakfast buffet. She’s obsessed with walking, visiting farmers’ markets and reading. She’s also learning to cook. Wish her (and her husband) luck.