What started as a trip to the emergency room blossomed into an advocacy opportunity for Mocktail MO.
MO shares that when she had just a little to drink up until a few years ago, her migraines were unbelievable. Sometimes she would be sick for days.
“I’m not talking after binge drinking,” she says. “I’m talking after one drink or even half a drink.”
The last alcoholic drink MO ever had was an Old Fashioned one evening in 2019.
“It was one drink. The next day I woke up in Urgent Care.”
MO was told by doctors that she had developed an alcohol intolerance. This event was the catalyst for MO, who was on the brink of uncharted advocacy work.
“I started looking for alcohol-free options downtown three years ago, and there really wasn’t much there. I went to the Fold and talked to the bartender there, and she ever so kindly made all of these mocktails because she wanted to be creative and thought that it was an exciting idea. We tried the mocktails and realized they were delicious. And that was the beginning.”
The next few years would be full of research, contacting bars and restaurants and friends, and trying recipes and concoctions. “Mocktail MO” as MO calls herself and goes by publicly, was born. MO began to advocate for alcohol-free beverage options and chronicled her journey and “mocktail” recipes on her blog, Mocktailmo.blog, which began to pick up steam. MO calls her followers Mocktailians. Her Instagram, Mocktail.mo, has also grown in popularity.
While many viewed the pandemic as a closed door, MO had a different perspective.
“The door wasn’t just opening for me: the wall was exploding open because I had access to people online around the world.”
MO made it her mission to meet the people around the country and the world who had already dabbled in the art of mocktails and share this information out in the open.
“These mocktails taste good. Not just good, but like alcohol. I realized that this is actually kind of fun and definitely worth a try. I realized I needed to bring this out into the mainstream.”
MO shares that over the years, she’s begun cultivating a following on social media, in addition to making media appearances to draw attention to the validity of alcohol-free options.
“I’ve done some morning shows here and in Fayetteville and made a lot of connections with movers and shakers throughout the industry. My wish for Arkansas is to inspire one of the local brewers to create an alcohol-free beer.”
MO acknowledges, though, that this advocacy doesn’t come without pushback or questions. Many individuals recovering from substance abuse may find the taste of mocktails too familiar to turn to. Others may find the alcoholic-free option to be an attack on their drinking preferences. MO acknowledges that this advocacy work has an emotional component that makes it hard. Opportunities, therefore, come after MO, and not the other way around.
“My door is open – that’s sort of been my approach to all of this. I’m not here to persuade people. This is for a lot of people, and I understand that this isn’t for everyone. My story is a health choice. If I can make it easier for people who are sober and want to try a mocktail and it doesn’t feel dangerous to them to do that, and it helps, I’m really happy.”
MO takes comfort in knowing that the mocktail industry is growing into something to be appreciated and not just offered. She hopes that as the mocktail movement picks up speed, the stigma around alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages will decrease enough to make individuals more comfortable no matter which drink they pick.
“There are a lot of people and places around town that have alcohol-free drinks, and that’s encouraging to me. My next step is to encourage them to invest in more products like that,” she says. “People are surprised that the things end up tasting worthy of the word cocktail. A lot of people think of juice and club soda. In many places, it started that way and developed into something more complex.
MO hopes that the complexity continues, bringing out the potential and the flavor of the alcohol-free beverage industry.
RECIPES FROM MOCKTAIL MO
Equal parts Heineken Zero and San Pellegrino Limonata
The Summer Tiki
2oz Ritual Rum alternative
1 oz Sobreo Star Anise
1/2 oz. Dhos Orange
1/2 lime squeeze
Top off with Q Hibiscus Ginger Beer
2 oz of alcohol-free tequila
A dash of grapefruit juice
1/2 a lime
Grapefruit Topo Chico
Rim glass with salt and chili lime spice from Trader Joe’s