SO WHAT IS DRY JANUARY?
It’s really a thing! The Alcohol Change in the UK endorses a formal campaign each year to encourage people to stop drinking for the month of January. Although the concept stems back to at least 1942, this more official effort was launched in 2014 and has caught on in the States in recent years. Speaking from experience, it’s a great way to concentrate on health (both physical and mental) by cutting back on alcohol consumption. So let’s explore some of our non-alcoholic options that can come in handy well past January.a
GINGER BEER AND FLAVORED SODA WATERS
Beginning with the easiest option, when you would normally grab a cocktail, grab a carbonated option like La Croix or ginger beer instead. Personally, I use a SodaStream and then infuse my own water with things like cucumber, mint, or lime; but there are lots of brands on the market that can satisfy your craving for a touch of flavor in lieu of alcohol if you don’t want to invest in your own machine.
While it’s common to suggest reaching for the coffee or tea instead of liquor, kombucha is– in my opinion– a more unique and fun alternative. You can even take up making your own! Kombucha has been a go-to brunch trick of mine for a while: When friends and family want to break open the champagne, but I don’t want to nap the rest of the day (or, let’s be honest, can’t nap— because I always want to), I often turn to kombucha as a carbonated alternative.
HOLD THE BASE SPIRIT: MAKING BEVERAGES INTERESTING WITHOUT LIQUOR
SODA WATER AND BITTERS
As someone whose go-to drink is a whiskey highball, an easy substitute is to skip the alcohol and simply combine soda water (or tonic if you’re a gin and tonic drinker) and bitters. My recommendation is Fee Brothers rhubarb bitters, although this does contain some alcohol for those of you who are strictly abstaining. Julia also wrote a great article a few months ago about non-alcoholic bitters if you’re curious about other options.
BOTANICAL WATERS, SYRUPS, AND SHRUBS
Using botanical waters (like Fee Brothers— Can you tell I’m a fan?) and simple syrups can add a lot of flavor, making your drink feel more like a cocktail even when omitting the alcohol. Even better yet, make your own! Infuse syrups and shrubs to make soda water more flavorful and fun… Or just infuse the water itself if you have a carbonated water machine. You can even combine this option with bitters to make your drink more complex.
There are plenty of cocktails you can turn into non-alcoholic beverages as well; drinks that include juices are easy to make without liquor, for example. We did an exploration of “mocktails” earlier this year that goes into a little more detail, but you have a lot of choices.
NON-ALCOHOLIC COCKTAILS THAT ARE SURE TO PLEASE YOUR PALATE
Speaking of mocktails, here are a couple specific ones we pulled from our Craft Cocktail Club Facebook group to get you started.
CUCUMBER VIRGIN MULE BY MATT PALACIOS
This alcohol-free beverage is similar to a cucumber mule, sans spirit. If you want a lighter and/or less sweet option, you can also swap out the simple syrup for soda water.
- 2 cucumber slices
- 5 leaves of mint
- 2 oz lime juice
- 2 oz simple syrup
- Ginger beer (to top)
- Muddle cucumber and mint.
- Add lime juice and simple syrup.
- Shake and strain. Top with ginger beer.
FRAGOLA BALSAMICA BY ERIN PETREY
Unique and delicious, this could easily become a traditional craft cocktail by adding 2 oz of vodka or gin.
- 6 strawberries
- .25 oz fresh lemon juice
- .25 oz balsamic vinegar
- .5 oz rich simple syrup
- 8 basil leaves
- 5 oz soda water
- Optional egg white or 2 tbsp. aquafaba
Combine strawberries, basil, and lemon in a shaker and gently muddle. Add all remaining ingredients except soda water and ice and shake vigorously. Top with soda water. If using egg white or aquafaba, strain into a glass without ice; if not using egg white or aquafaba, strain into an ice-filled glass and top with soda water. Garnish with a strawberry. [Just a side note: I changed Erin’s original instructions just a tad after experimenting with this recipe; the above photo is of the aquafaba version.]
WHAT NON-ALCOHOLIC COCKTAIL WILL YOU MAKE DURING DRY JANUARY?
Now that you know your options, we’d love to see what you’re drinking this month and all throughout 2021. Is there anything we didn’t cover that you’d like to add to our list? Leave us a comment below or come join us in our Facebook group to discuss all things cocktails– with or without alcohol.