Sober October – Day 1

Day 1, and I already had to resist an open bar.

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October 1, 2018

Weight: 125 lb

Sleep: At least 8 hrs

Today is not pulling any punches for my Sober October experiment. Less than a week after I got back from my trip to Scotland, I’m attending an industry event downtown. Ungava Gin (Corby Spirit and Wine) partnered with Friends of the Earth and Alveole for an information session on bee conservation efforts. This means two things: free food, and free craft cocktails. Saying no to cocktails shouldn’t be too hard, mostly because I’d like to think I’m not a heavy drinker. But how many times will I say no to a drink in the next 30 days?

The event was in a great room on the eleventh floor. Along with a view of the city, brand ambassadors set up the room with bottles of Ungava shelved across the wall with samples of the unique botanicals. Ungava prides itself on gathering all of their botanicals from the North of Quebec. Some of these notable botanicals include Nordic juniper, cloudberry, and wild rose hips (which give the gin its particular colour).

Open bar is possibly the worst thing to encounter on your first day of sobriety. An open bar at an industry event is a whole different story. The alcohol available is of better quality, and the cocktails are made by professionals. I ended up having a virgin Mulled Cider, delicious and sweet.

This event had three fantastic cocktails:

Bees Knees

Classic gin cocktail that really fit of the theme of the day.

Gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup.


Mulled Cider

Perfect for the dreary fall weather that brought Toronto some rain that day.

Gin, apple cider, and mulling spices.


Ungava G&T

Everyone’s favourite low-ABV gin libation.

Gin, elderflower tonic, grapefruit, and fresh rosemary.


Now the whole point of attending this event with the open bar, not to mention the free poutine, was to learn about how to save the bees. Now the first thing I took away from this event is that there’s a difference between honey bees and wild native bees species. Honey bees were brought over from the European settlers, and wild native bees are indigenous to the area. Bumble Bees are included in this category of wild bees native to Canada.

This first part of the event was hosted by Ashleigh Bliss, a beekeeper with Alveole. Alveole is the urban beekeeping company that helps people set up their very own beehive in the city. They have options for individuals, businesses, or schools. The company provides one-on-one workshops, helps you maintain the beehive throughout the year, and will help you harvest and package the honey you produce. This particular interest in urban beekeeping, as a method to help bring back the declining honey bee population, is due to all this untapped beehive real estate. Toronto specifically is perfect for this concept, as pesticides are banned and there’s a wide array of floral diversity. Both of these things are essential for bee health.

The second half of the seminar was hosted by Friends of the Earth CEO Beatrice Olivastri. Her focus was on education of the over 800 wild native bee species in Canada. Friends of the Earth is a grassroots organization that campaigns for changes at the policy level. This includes banning harmful pesticides, changing market structures, and working with existing businesses such as greenhouses to prevent the spread of bee diseases. Friends of Earth also has tons of resources for the everyday person wanting to do good. This includes a guide on creating a B&B for wild pollinators on their website.

One of the things I noticed right away from this event was that I didn’t feel tired. By forgoing the open bar, I could take more away from the information presented to me. Often when drinking earlier in the day, which events like this usually are, I feel drained when the alcohol leaves my system.

I did particularly appreciate the concept of this event, where Ungava and Friends of the Earth work together. Getting the bartenders involved means having them try to get an Ungava gin cocktail on their list. Sober October might make that a difficult task, but I still have to sample cocktails and booze-related things. (Please see a full list of rules I’ve applied for myself here.) Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to add an Ungava cocktail to a list in before the deadline in December.

First day of Sober October a success.

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