Ahead of the third #MindfulDrinkingFest, taking place at Spitalfields on the 28th July, we sat down for a quick chat with Club Soda co-founder, Laura Willoughby MBE to find out a little bit more about the festival and what she’s most excited about.
Can you tell us about the story and inspiration behind the Mindful Drinking Festival?
We set up Club Soda a few years ago to support people to take a self-guided journey to change their drinking habits. Our members still socialise a lot so we kept being asked for our top choices of drinks – in response we decided to curate the best into one event that everyone could enjoy – whether you are an avid foodie, pregnant, driving or drinking more mindfully.
What do you love most about Spitalfields, and why did you choose to host the Mindful Drinking Festival here?
It is just the right place, on the edge of the City where we have lots of pubs on our venue guide and in the heart of a part of London known for its experimental food and drink.
Which drinks brand are you most excited about having on the line-up this year?
We have seven new alcohol-free botanical spirits that are all new this year – like alt Gin, Ceder’s. Fever Tree will be running a tasting. There are eight alcohol-free beers with brands like Braxzz coming from Holland – so alongside the festival sponsors Heineken and Be-Mocktails that makes a pretty good showing from the dutch! Beer Sommelier, Jane Peyton will be running a free tutored tasting of them all! Then we have some amazing drinks that have been developed from ancient recipes and by some awesome modern drinks alchemists – kombuchas, shrubs, collaboration shandies and some things I find hard to describe but love to bits from Outsider Drinks. There is something for everyone.
You’re about to make your dream cocktail, what’s it called and what’s in it?
I don’t really enjoy many alcohol-free cocktails, I much prefer a kombucha, shrub or craft soda. Something crafted beautifully and put in a bottle for me to try any time. But I am interested in the new wave of alcohol-free cocktails being made using the new alcohol-free spirits, kombucha and shrubs as a base. When I see those I know a venue is thinking about all their customers as equals and I will try what they have made. I am looking forward to seeing how Be at One makes theirs in their free masterclasses at the festival.
What would you say to somebody who is thinking of giving up alcohol but worries about experiencing peer pressure?
Be strong and clear in your response to them. “No. I am not drinking.” The more confidence you say it with, the more people back off! You don’t need anyone’s permission to not drink!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
If I say yes to a drink today what am I saying no to tomorrow? I always fast forward to the hangover and how it will dull the next day’s experience. Drinking more mindfully gives you the power to pick and choose when you want to drink and when you don’t, so you can get the most out of life.
For more information on the Mindful Drinking Festival, click here. We hope to see you there!