“You can swap one habit that may be negatively impacting your life for a positive habit, and that helps all the other areas to start falling into place,” says Fern McCoy, the founder of Mockingbird, who launched the UK’s first non-alcoholic Tequila alternative in August 2020.

“At its essence, alcohol is a depressant, so if you’re drinking less, you’ll hopefully be improving your mental health, too. That focus on adopting healthier habits and creating a more active lifestyle which can help reduce your risk of breast cancer is why we’re so happy to support BCUK.”

Personal alignment
Fern previously worked in the gin industry, with its corresponding heavy alcohol influence. However, when her partner decided to be alcohol-free, she also gave up alcohol in solidarity with him. She admits it can be a difficult thing to do, and yet found that after abstaining for a certain time, she didn’t miss it.

“Then if you do end up having alcohol, you experience it almost for the first time, and understand why people would give it up – it just opened my eyes a lot more, ” she says. “Sometimes people struggle with the idea of giving up alcohol completely, but if you take on something like the Ditch the Drink Challenge, I guarantee that when that month is finished, you won’t be drinking as much.”

However, Fern noticed there were no non-alcoholic beverages like tequila. She already had a love of Mexico inherited through her family, enjoying quesadillas, tacos, and fajitas accompanied by a dash of tequila.

“I decided to create something using the same ingredients as tequila, without the alcohol,” she explains. “My job in the gin industry had dwindled because of the pandemic and I was looking to do something that was more aligned with my personal life. The Covid-19 lockdown gave me excess time, and I had all this excess energy from giving up alcohol, so I pushed forward with the idea. I got the recipe together and a drinks consultant helped me scale up the idea.”

More than shots
Fern explains that tequila is made from the blue agave plant, which grows in Mexico: “That’s our main ingredient. And then, because Mockingbird is not alcoholic and there’s so much nuanced flavour in tequila that comes from the fermentation process, we built out the pallet with lemon for citrus, cinnamon for warmth, and pepper for some spice. And then we put in habanero, which mimics that little bit of a tingle you get from alcohol.”

She adds that people sometimes need information on how to use Mockingbird: “Tequila tends to be thought of as shots in the nightclub. But there are so many other ways to enjoy it once you get over that idea.” She suggests using Mockingbird in classic margaritas, in cocktails such as the Tequila Sour, and in Mexican-style drinks such as the Paloma.

“Increasingly, I think we’re all taking more interest in different cultures, so it’s nice to go for burritos or tacos and still have a margarita, but without the alcohol,” she says.

Looking ahead, Fern hopes to add more to Mockingbird’s drinks portfolio. “We’ve launched a non-alcoholic beer called Esmeralda, which has Mockingbird added to it. Our biggest customer base seems to be in America. So as travel starts to get a little bit easier, we’ll spend some time out there.”

Finding the right balance
Looking back at her experience with decreasing her alcohol intake, Fern says the biggest benefit she’s noticed is her increased productivity. “It just went through the roof!” she says. “After a period of abstinence, or cutting down on alcohol,  productivity goes up and everything seems to go hand in hand –  if you aren’t drinking as much alcohol, then you tend to sleep better, which means you tend to eat better and drink more water. Different elements of your life spring back into action. You feel more creative again, or you’ve got more time for hobbies now that you’re not in the pub in the evening.”

She adds that the various alcohol alternatives eliminate the need for people to think they should be drinking alcohol, because they can still have a drink in their hand, or offer toasts, but without the hangover or any other bad reactions to alcohol.

“I think the narrative is changing because of the push for wellbeing,” Fern says. “If you say you’re not drinking just for tonight or just for a week, or just for a month, people do kind of get it because everyone’s gone through a phase like that. That change is exciting, because if someone is pushing you and you say no, I think they would know to not push you any further because, hopefully, we’re all just a little bit wiser. It’s all about finding the right balance and leading a healthier life.”

If you’re looking to reduce or even stop drinking alcohol, try our Ditch the Drink challenge and go alcohol free for a month.  You’ll be surprised by all the benefits this brings to your life.

Sign up today and get our welcome email, packed with helpful bits to support you, plus you get access to our private Facebook group to get support on your journey to being alcohol free.

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