Are you familiar with Dry January? It’s a concept that sprang to life in full force in 2014, first in the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland, and later in the United States. The concept is simple: reinvigorate a healthy lifestyle for a month by abstaining from alcohol. The timing is obvious: it follows the mad holiday season started on Thanksgiving and ending on New Year’s Eve.
Dry January is something I dread every year but after a year like no other, we should all probably dry out for a month. You know, cleanse and get back on track with “better living” and a bit more discipline. I failed last year, but this year I’m determined to do it right.
Experiment with Great Mocktails
January’s a nice opportunity to dabble in drink and flavor combinations you may not know. Victor Bautista of Concord Hill in Brooklyn offers up a deliciously fresh and spicy mocktail that might be my go-to for the next month. His appropriately named “Cruel Summer” blends mango and orange juices with simply syrup for a sweet contrast to the chili-based Chamoy hot sauce and Tajin rim. Williamsburg’s Le Crocodile in The Wythe Hotel mixes Ghia non-alcoholic aperitif with soda, Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic, rosemary and grapefruit juice.
I’ve always found that a Virgin Mary or, as some call it, a Bloody Shame tastes pretty damn good given all its pickled vegetable, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and peppery ingredients. Red or green Bloody Mary mixes from Stone Hollow Farmstead in Alabama have nailed the no-alcohol version using their own farm veggies. And, I’m not kidding you, you won’t miss the vodka. Or the hangover. Another spicy and healthy Bloody variant is the plant-filled Hairless Dog, made with Ritual Zero spirits and V8 juice. Experiment, too, with creatively layered beverages with a base of Seedlip, distilled, non-alcoholic spirits made with botanicals and herbs. Refresh with a MartiNO is made with Seedlip Spice 94, cold-brewed coffee and simple syrup, or sip an herbal version neat, Seedlip Garden 108, or citrus-based Grove 42 on the rocks. Bourbon lovers can try Spiritless, made in Kentucky with notes of caramel, vanilla and oak.
Substitute Non-alcoholic Beverages for Your Favorite Wines and Beer
I’m a huge proponent of drinking wine not only for enjoyment but also for its health benefits. Red wine, in particular, has antioxidants and is reputed to promote heart health, longevity and the French-endorsed benefit of keeping you slim and trim. Light beers have always been a diet-friendly substitute for heavier craft brews. But, come New Year’s I’m going Dry January with alternatives that provide a refreshing change.
Rock Grace has a line of non-alcoholic elixirs and bubbly so delicious that you may not miss the alcoholic content of your usual glass of white or rosé. Made with botanicals and adaptogens rather than sweeteners or preservatives, the ruby red drinks give you a taste of summer and a welcome dose of calm and wellness.
For a flavor kick, the sparkling white alcohol-free wine, HUG0.0 alternativa, hails from Florida and is made with immune-boosting elderberry and mint.
If California wines are your favorites, you’ll enjoy FRE alcohol-removed wines, made in the heart of Napa Valley. Their sister winery, Sutter Home Family Vineyards, provides all the endorsement you’ll need: they pour FRE wines at their tasting room along with their own vintages.
Also from California, the new H2O Sonoma Soft Seltzer is the world’s first wine-infused non-alcoholic sparkling water currently available in three varietals: Pinot Noir, Rosé, and Sauvignon Blanc. These sparkling beverages are packaged in recyclable cans and are made with dealcoholized wine and natural flavors.
Clausthaler craft non-alcoholic beers taste just like the real brew. This German brewery has the pedigree, too, as they are an exclusively N/A brewery in existence for 40 years. For a kick, try their new grapefruit beer or their special holiday Santa beer.
Experiment with Other Delicious Beverages
Juice Press has a full range of bottled vegetable and fruit-based drinks that will add a boost of pizzazz with ingredients like turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper. If you’re a coffee drinker, jazz up your beverage with a seasonal shot of eggnog syrup, peppermint and chocolate, or toasted caramel white chocolate – these are all readily available at Starbucks along with tea-based drinks like hot or cold matcha latte. In upscale grocery stores, Recess offers a line of sparkling beverages with non-traditional flavor combinations. Try their peach ginger, pomegranate hibiscus or blackberry chair for something different.
Perrier has upped their game with new flavors like cucumber and lime, peach, and watermelon that make great mixers in mocktails. They’ve also partnered with @TheWeekendMixologst and @Apartment_Bartender to create several original recipes to help you stay creative with your zero-alcohol beverages. Try combining chilled green tea and Perrier with fresh lime and pineapple juices and a smidge of passionfruit syrup, for example.
Make It Count with a More Plant-Based Diet
Dry January is the perfect reason to add more plant-based dishes to your meals. Call them vegetarian, vegan or even pescatarian for those who can’t totally give up seafood, just up the quantities of veggies while reducing or completely eliminating red or white meat for the month. Options are easier to find than ever, both in restaurants and grocery stores. Try restaurants like Manhattan’s Hummus Kitchen, The Hummus & Pita Co. Shark Tank winner Beyond Sushi and West Coast chain Veggie Grill to whet your taste buds with Mediterranean specialties that are low in fat and high in taste. Dishes like shakshuka, pasta with sage and butternut squash, and garlic hummus on pita pair well with non-alcoholic fruit drinks, sparkling seltzers with a squeeze of fruit, and non-alcoholic white or sparkling wines.
Burn off Those Alcohol-Induced Pounds with More Exercise
When you feel the urge to have a drink, think movement or exercise instead. It may be as nutty as dancing by yourself in your home, or going for a quick run or brisk walk during your usual cocktail hour. If there are other triggers that make you want to order your usual, try to identify them and elicit the support of others during those times. Cocktail hour could become stretch hour, a lovely prelude to dinner with your favorite mocktail or non-alcoholic beer. For a more disciplined approach, consider a trial subscription to Bonded by the Burn with its extensive program of resistance-bands classes. The first seven days are free, so give it a go.