'Consulting revolves around alcohol': couple targets mindless drinking
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'Consulting revolves around alcohol': couple targets mindless drinking

Former Canberra consultant Christina DeLay remembers only too well the questions colleagues would fire in her direction if she politely refused an alcoholic beverage with her lunch.

Firstly: 'What? Why aren't you drinking?'

Followed automatically by: 'Are you pregnant?'

Altina Drinks founders Alan Tse and Christina DeLay are taking on Australia's drinking culture.

Altina Drinks founders Alan Tse and Christina DeLay are taking on Australia's drinking culture. Credit:Elesa Kurtz

The capital's consulting industry revolves around boozing, DeLay said, from lunches and networking events to internal celebrations and big contract wins.

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"After work, if you'd had a bad day, you'd go down to the pub with your colleagues," DeLay said.

"If you have a good day, you go down to the pub with your colleagues.

"It's every occasion really."

DeLay and partner Alan Tse, a data visualisation specialist, are calling Canberra professionals out on their mindless drinking by attempting to launch a range of non-alcoholic- and mostly sugar-free - drinks.

Altina Drinks are craft cocktails that offer "all of the party and none of the hangover", DeLay said, and offer a beautiful alternative to sparkling water or a schooner of soft drink.

The Altina range is made from plant ingredients including bark, spices, flowers and herbs, and in addition to providing a sexy zero proof option that stacks up against a glass of champagne or a craft beer at lunch, the drinks are driving an important conversation around the Aussie drinking culture.

"A really big part of our values, and the reason why we started this, is to actually start a conversation with people about their drinking," DeLay said.

"We want people to stop and go, 'Well maybe my relationship with alcohol isn't on my terms. Or isn't what I want it to be'.

"We really want to change that narrative and I think there's been momentum behind that in the last few months with a few high profile people and articles coming out around the country about our drinking culture.

"That's what we really want to help shift, Australia's drinking mentality."

Altina's crowdfunding goal is $25,000 and, with seven days to go, the social enterprise founded by Alan Tse and Christina DeLay needs Canberra's support.

Altina's crowdfunding goal is $25,000 and, with seven days to go, the social enterprise founded by Alan Tse and Christina DeLay needs Canberra's support.Credit:Elesa Kurtz

The idea for Altina was born when DeLay's daily boozing started having an impact on her physical health.

"It just became such a big part of life and I found that I really wasn't mindful of it at all," she said.

"I started to get some health problems and then I thought hold on, what's going on here? How much am I actually drinking every day and how does that affect not only my physical health but my mental health as well?"

Bullying people into drinking is rife in Australian drinking culture too, Tse said, with people not even noticing they're giving someone who's abstaining a hard time about it.

"If someone's not drinking we immediately ask why," he said.

"There's huge social pressure around it ... why is something wrong with me when I choose not to drink? There's huge social stigma around that.

"We need to re-frame that thinking."

Altina's first corporate client was in fact a consulting firm, with DeLay and Tse delivering 100 cocktails for staff and clients of accounting and consulting firm Synergy Group Australia. The drinks - which changed colour after being infused with a specific ingredient - celebrated Synergy's recent re-brand.

The dream is to have Altina cocktails bottled and launched to the public in November, just in time for Canberrans to celebrate an alcohol-free Christmas.

"People should be able to choose their relationship with alcohol, without feeling pressured, left out, or bored by the options of alcohol-free drinks available," DeLay said.

To support Altina Drinks, head to crowdfunding platform startsomegood.com

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