When I first got sober, one of the ways that I romanticized my drinking was to fondly reminisce about my famous holiday wine and cheese parties. These parties would start out sophisticated enough. My friends and I would pick out a bottle (or three) of wine each and prepare some background information about our vino to present to the group. We’d sip, then nibble on cheese, and honey, and figs, and dates. All very grown up, until we got knee deep in drunk and would toss the remaining presentations out the window as we gulped down bottle after bottle singing, “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no!” I’d wake up the next day with a pounding headache, surrounded by a cloud of cigarette smoke, mounds of melted brie, and crackers crushed in my furniture. Not so glamorous. The irony of singing along to Amy Winehouse in the midst of my full on addiction provides me with a much clearer perspective. I am grateful to be alive, healthy, and happy — all of this means so much more to me than swigging fancy wine with fancy cheese.
Some people pity me that I cannot drink, especially around the holidays. But, sobriety has made my world so much bigger, not smaller. For example, I no longer default to the routine pairing of food with wine. Instead, I can really think about complex food and drink pairings that are layered and interesting. And, no, I’m not just talking about Ring Dings and Pepsi! Here are 10 holiday mocktail and hors d’oeuvre pairings that will put that predictable wine and cheese to shame: