The shamrock-green concoction filling champagne glasses at The Narrows Bar is a lot different from the green-tinged suds often seen this time of the year.
The Garden Medley is a nonalcoholic cocktail, also known as a mocktail, created for a partnership with Recover Alaska for Sobriety Awareness Month.
“I think it’s fun for people in recovery to have an option to go out and have fun,” said Carrie Amott, a board member of the Great Bear Recovery Collective who is in long-term recovery. “I enjoy things like that. I mix juice and seltzer water at home. That’s something that helps in my recovery.”
Great Bear Recovery Collective is a local network of people in recovery that helps provide support for people with a history of drug and alcohol misuse. In Southeast Alaska, 32 percent of households have a person with an alcohol use problem, according to Alaska Research and Evaluation Services statistics shared on Recover Alaska’s website.
A chance to feel special or celebrate without imbibing is the idea behind Recover Alaska encouraging bars to put mocktails on the menu during March, said Tiffany Hall, executive director for Recover Alaska, who is in long-term recovery.
“I think a reason it’s nice to have nonalcoholic options at places is to just normalize sobriety and change the narrative a little bit that alcohol has to be a mandatory part of a person’s evening or event,” Hall said.
However, Amott said going out for mocktails may not be for every person with a history of alcohol misuse, and people in recovery will have to decide if it’s in their comfort zone.
March was designated Sobriety Awareness Month last year, and while the official status is new, Hall said the month has a 30-year history of being associated with sobriety through the Alaska Native Sobriety Movement started by the Alaska Federation of Natives, which is why this month was selected for its designation.
Amott said since the official designation is new, March mocktails and other sobriety awareness efforts are still catching on in Juneau. Hall said to the best of her knowledge only The Narrows Bar and Amalga Distillery were the only official partners in Juneau this year.
Almaga is rotating through nonalcoholic options featuring blueberry, spruce tip and rose flavors. All proceeds will be donated to Recover Alaska. At the end of the month they are hoping to do a canned mocktail release with the proceeds going to Recover Alaska.
Jared Curé, owner of The Narrows Bar, said the drink he’s serving — made of mint, basil, cucumber, Serrano pepper, lime, soda water and simple syrup — has been a hit with customers who aren’t imbibing whether they’re in recovery or not.
“I think response has been great,” Curé said. “There’s a lot of reasons someone might come to a bar and not drink. Someone could be the designated driver that night. Maybe someone’s expecting a child.”
Curé said his bar’s emphasis on creating cocktails with fresh ingredients put it in a position that made creating nonalcoholic drinks relatively easy, and nonalcoholic cocktails are something that are available year-round at The Narrows Bar. The Garden Medley was made specifically for this month.
“I created a cocktail without alcohol with as much attention to detail as the other cocktails,” he said.“I do think that’s important. I definitely didn’t want to do OK virgin spicy lady or the virgin firecracker. I wanted this to be its own drink that was created from scratch. It’s its own drink. It’s great.”
Some other aspects of the drink, such as it’s seasonally appropriate color, were a happy accident.
“It wasn’t intentional,” Curé said. “I wanted to create something showcasing fresh ingredients.”
More events coming up
Amott and Mike VanLinden, re-entry case manager for Great Bear Recovery, said there are some recovery-friendly events planned for this month and beyond.
Sunday, March 24, there will be a free movie night at Gold Town Theater. Doors for the movie will open at 4:45 p.m., and at 5 p.m., “Fantastic Beasts : The Crimes of Grendelwald” will start.
VanLinden said the organization’s monthly events are an important aspect of helping people in recovery avoid misusing substances.
“We’re both people in long-term recovery,” VanLinden said. “Both of us noticed these therapeutic programs are what helped us gel together.”
Amott and VanLinden said it’s also why Great Bear Recovery provides some people with scholarships for activities such as yoga classes, art classes or a pool pass.
Those sorts of monthly activities, like a pizza and bowling night planned for April, help fill time and teach people how to have fun in a healthy way, VanLinden said.
“The reason we do this is because we know some of the reason people are bored or because they’re stressed out,” he said. “As things start warming up a little bit, we’ll be doing things like Frisbee golf or hiking that aren’t necessarily the monthly activity. We’re really trying to build a community around recovery.”
Need someone to talk to?
• Call 463-3303 and ask for Great Bear Recovery.
• VanLinden said there is a recovery group that meets at University of Alaska Southeast 5 p.m. on Wednesday in the Egan Lecture Hall, Room 116.
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.