Fancy a soda? A new kind of Hackney night out

Club Soda’s Laura Willoughby @ 060615 ©

THE PUB is a vital part of society, integral to our way of life, isn’t it?

Not everywhere, it seems. Hackney council says that a survey in the borough found that almost 40 per cent say they don’t drink alcohol.

Of those residents, Hackneyites aged 16 to 24, the over-65s, women and people from ethnic minorities are less likely to drink.

Enter Club Soda, describing itself as “a start-up company supporting people who want to change their drinking”. It is working with a charity, Alcohol Concern, to develop the pilot with funding from the council’s Healthier Hackney Fund. They will consult customers and bars and other social venues in Dalston on ideas to make alcohol-free pub sessions more feasible. They could, for example, include soft-drink promotions. Well, it’s a start.

Club Soda’s Laura Willoughby @ 060615 ©
Club Soda’s Laura Willoughby

Alcohol Concern chief Jackie Ballard said its Dry January campaign had helped people to realise it was OK not to drink alcohol.

Club Soda’s Laura Willoughby, left, said: “The number of people quitting or cutting down their drinking for health reasons is on the increase, and more and more young people are not drinking at all. But everybody still likes a good night out.

“We are interested in looking at new ways that pubs and bars can cater for that.”

Lauren Johns, right, licensee of the Three Compasses at Dalston E8 1NH, told Loving Dalston: “It’s important to have non-alcoholic drink options, especially with summer approaching. Customers enjoy sunny times in the garden, but drinking alcohol all day in the sun isn’t the best idea.”Lauren Johns @ Three Compasses Dalston Lane Lon E8 11 Jan 2012 ©

The Three Compasses had “a large range of teas and juices”.

Johns added that that “a lot of customers” took part in Dry January by going to the pub for a meal. She said: “They simply swapped their usual tipple for an alcohol-free drink.”

Of course, the 3C is not the only pub to serve soft drinks. The Marksman at the south end of Queensbridge Road E2 7SJ plans to make its own cordials some time after its relaunch on Monday 1 June 2015. Organic lemonade, anyone?

Marksman: PH Hackney Rd London Jan 2012 ©
Marksman: cordial

Hamish Scott 170515

* Club Soda provided “free food, drink and ideas” at the Duke of Wellington, 119 Balls Pond Road N1 4BL, on Sat 6 June 2015 (pictured at top). Future booking. Help and advice is also available at Rehab 4 Addiction (tel. 0800 140 4690).

* Main picture: a social evening at the Duke of Wellington, 119 Balls Pond Road, Hackney N1 4BL 

* Backstory: Eat, drink and be soberPint and a pony burger, please; Heave-ho from the hipsters?

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