“I Don’t Know if I’m Going to Drink Again”: Lewis Hamilton on His Newfound Sober Curiosity

On October 26, Lewis Hamilton is sitting 56 stories up in a skyscraper in Mexico City, holding a drink and dressed in a Junya Watanabe suit. The term “his” refers to the fact that he is the one drinking it as well as the fact that, well, he made it.

That same week, Hamilton and Casa Lumbre introduced Almave, a non-alcoholic blue agave spirit. (For those who are unaware, tequila is made from the blue agave plant. Though the taste characteristics are similar, it is inaccurate to label it as a non-ABV version of the liquor because it is not fermented like tequila is.)

Dealing with a brand is nothing new; in fact, celebrity endorsements date back to the 1880s, when British actor Lillie

Langtry was named Pears Soap’s face. Hamilton’s involvement in the creation of a mega-athlete is noteworthy, though, as he, along with master distiller and co-founder of Casa Lumbre, Iván Saldaña, has been involved in every stage of the process, from tasting the agave leaves to naming the brand. (Consider more George Clooney with Casamigos and less Bruce Jenner and Wheaties.)

Lewis Hamilton’s desire to work in the non-alcoholic spirits sector: why? The obvious response is that it’s expanding: Nielsen estimates that between August 2021 and

In the US, non-alcoholic drink sales reached $395 million in August 2022, a 20% increase from the previous year. In the meantime, the sober-curious and mindful drinking movements are gaining more and more traction.

Among them is Hamilton. The world-champion Formula One driver has always been fascinated by wellness. A few years ago, after learning about the numerous health andenvironmental advantages of a plant-based diet, he joined other elite athletes like Novak Djokovic and

Venus Williams. Yet he’s been drinking since he was 16, despite the drawbacks. “​​I’ll suffer for several days—sometimes it’ll be like three or four days,” he says of imbibing during a night out. It was at odds with the rest of his hyper-focused persona:

“I’ve always been looking for how do you get that extra 1%? As an athlete, that’s what you are always doing.” Alcohol wasn’t adding anything to his life, it was detracting from it: Hamilton admits that it threw him off his peak during training.

Yet he struggled when it came to socializing with his friends—a key part of maintaining a work-life balance—without alcohol. “There is pressure within a social setting,” he admits. “You have that one shot and are like, ‘Damn, why did I do that?’ when you get home,” he said. “I was like, wow, that’s kind of crazy how I’m feeling pressured. And I realized, how can I be feeling pressure at 38? Imagine young 18 year olds.”

Then there was the mental health aspect: as a Formula 1 champion and a worldwide celebrity, Hamilton admits that sometimes the pressure can get to him. “The fact is—alcohol does not help with that,” he says.

So he dove head-first into solving his own problem and co-founded a tequila alternative—his spirit of choice—that made him feel like he wasn’t making such a social sacrifice. Almave comes in two variations: the first, Almave Blanco, is meant for mixing in cocktails. The second, the herbaceous Almave Ámbar, is for sipping on the rocks.

Hamilton claims to have abstained from alcohol for four months and counting. Regarding his new strategy, he stated, “I don’t know if I’m going to drink again.” “I’ve just been feeling so much better and having so much more clarity since I stopped drinking. I can still get up at five in the morning, I wake up in the morning, and I sleep better,” he claims. He finished in second place at the Mexico City Grand-Prix two days later, which was one of his best finishes of the year. Something is obviously working.

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