Marnie Rae is a proud working mom of three. She got sober about 15 years ago only to find that sober entertaining was incredibly difficult. She grew more than disappointed in her dining experiences whether at 5-star restaurants or bars. Why did none of these otherwise amazing establishments offer options to people who – for whatever reason – opted not to drink? So she decided to do something about it.

Listen to our interview with soft cocktail expert, Marnie Rae, here:

On Why She Decided To Stop Drinking

I started drinking in high school, and that was back in the eighties. Alcoholism runs in my family. So I think it was just kind of my destiny, but I continued to drink obviously heavier and more often as I became legal at 21 and then started having kids.

As we all know it just never gets better. The drinking gets worse, and life in general just gets worse. So after a particularly ugly evening at an elementary school fundraiser at my daughter’s school, I woke up the next morning, and I just knew that that was the last time I was going to drink. I knew I had to get some help and my husband also knew it because he told me that if I didn’t get some help that things were about to you know a whole lot worse.

“I have to say that there was a lot of white knuckling involved, too. Sometimes you try your best to prepare yourself for situations and circumstances and it just doesn’t work out. So there was a lot of just hanging on for dear life and praying and hoping for the best outcome.”

On The First Time She Reached Out for Help

I had a friend at the school where our kids went, and I knew that she didn’t drink and didn’t know why although I had made some assumptions. And for whatever reason, she just seemed like a sane person. So I accosted [laughs] her in the elementary school parking lot one day and I think it may have been that day or the next day. And literally, after we dropped the kids off were walking out to our cars. I stopped her, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t even say good morning or anything.

I just said, why don’t you drink?

I thought, oh my gosh I look like a crazy woman [laughs]. But thankfully she could probably see the desperation in my face and my eyes. She was so kind. [She] told me that she was in recovery and asked me a few questions and I just said to her that I needed some help. I’m pretty sure I cried at that point, and she took me to my first meeting which was scary and full of relief. I cried for the entire meeting – like sobbed. And I don’t even know why. I really just felt like that was a safe place with people who got it. You know, they understood. It’s like I [had been] walking around with two heads, looking for all my other two headed people and I [couldn’t] find them. And there they were in the room were all my two-headed friends.

On Her Early Sobriety

We had parties a lot. So drinking was really part of our culture within our circle of family and friends. It was hard for me. When I quit I didn’t know what to drink. I didn’t know how to drink. I didn’t know how to behave. Those were all things I kind of had to learn. And the thing I noticed right away is when we would go out I didn’t even know how to order a drink or even what I could order. A lot of times I would end up ordering cranberry juice and tonic which I hate. But the only thing that was [for certain] was that I felt like I was kind of a grownup. So I felt like I was part of the group.

On Changing the Way We Don’t Drink

There’s rarely anything on the menus. And most of the time I get a virgin version of something. But I didn’t know what I was looking for. So for 15 years I unknowingly have been struggling with this. And then about three summers ago my husband and I were away for a weekend and had a wonderful dinner at a farm to table restaurant. It was just the usual negative customer service non-alcoholic drink experience all the way from trying to order something that’s not on the menu to being given something terrible. I was so frustrated, and then I just said to my husband I don’t understand in 15 years why nobody has done this. It just seems like there should be more options. So I decided to try and figure it out. That’s what I’m doing – trying to figure it out. Trying to educate the bartenders and restaurants on the importance of having non-alcoholic options. I’m trying to teach consumers how to order drinks and what they can order and how they can serve their communities by offering non-alcoholic beverages.

On How Young People Are Choosing a Sober Lifestyle

When I started this I guess for whatever reason I made the assumption that this community would probably be people in my age group and I have no valid reasons for making that assumption. But as it turns out there are so many people that are part of this community but many communities are you know 25 to 35 to 45. I think I’m surprised about the 20-somethings because when I was that age not drinking was just not [in my mind]. So it’s just so inspiring to me that they are consciously making a choice whether it’s like you decide whether it’s sobriety or whether it’s just because they’re trying to take better care of themselves or they’re building a business and don’t have time for that. It is so inspiring that I get messages probably every couple of weeks from people either saying thank you for the inspiration or do you have any suggestions if I want to quit drinking? And the last few that I received have been from younger people.

On What’s in Her Sobriety Toolkit

I think the biggest thing was the people. I just had to surround myself with people – not necessarily sober people. That’s how I got sober through the rooms of AA but people who are supportive and encouraging and the people that weren’t I just had to draw boundaries and stay away.  I did lose friendships and that’s okay. I was at a point in my life [where] I had to [do] what was healthy for me.

The second most important thing for me is to give myself grace. I have to do that a lot because I’m hard on myself and I think that’s probably true for a lot of people. And so when I’m not having a good day maybe I’m not behaving mentally and spiritually in a positive way. I literally just have to forgive myself at the end of the day.

Sometimes getting out of my head looks like watching the Kardashians, sometimes it’s exercise, sometimes laughing with my kids or sometimes it’s just making a nice dinner for my family. It all depends on the moment. But I try not to spend too much time in my head. It’s not always a great place, to be.

I have to say that there was a lot of white knuckling involved, too. Sometimes you try your best to prepare yourself for situations and circumstances and it just doesn’t work out. And so there was a lot of just hanging on for dear life and praying and hoping for the best outcome.

Links and references:

You can follow along with Marnie on her Instagram @marnieraec for delicious recipes and sobriety inspiration. She’s also got a ton going on on her website at

If you are doing the holidays sober this year and need some extra support, Marnie and I created a free guide that will help you navigate holiday parties and gatherings without using alcohol as a crutch.

This guide will also help you:

  • Actually have fun at holiday parties – sober
  • Deal with social anxiety, set boundaries, and know your triggers
  • Have answers ready for all the “why aren’t you drinking?” questions
  • PLUS it features tips from Marnie Rae, soft cocktail expert and woman in sobriety for over 15 years.

Sign up to get your FREE sober holidays guide and learn how to navigate the holidays without that spiked eggnog.

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