It’s here, the month we take a collective sigh of relief when the hustle and magic of the holidays comes to a close, and we level set on all those New Year’s Resolutions we’re angling to achieve in 2024. January is a great month to take a break from a lot of things…like easing up on the exercise your bank account saw the past few weeks, saying no to all those deliciously tempting holiday cookies still cluttering your pantry, and as many do, taking a little reset from alcohol. We get it, the holidays are full of indulgence – rich foods, cocktail parties, those holiday sweet treats lurking in the pantry, office holiday parties that sometimes get a bit…boozy, spending time with extended family where wine makes those awkward interactions a little easier…you know, there’s just a lot of merriment to be had in December, which is wonderful in more ways than one.
So, whether you’re full-on committed to Dry January, or perhaps you fancy yourself more of a Damp January follower, we wanted to share our top tips for making it through the month without a glass of wine (though we won’t judge if you have a sip or two).
Tip #1: Use a Fun Glass for Your Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Wine and cocktails have the added benefit of usually being served in glass with a little more pizzazz. It elevated the experience of enjoying the beverage. Even though your wine and cocktails are taking a backseat this month, that doesn’t mean your glassware has to. Pour your sparkling water of choice in a wine glass, maybe serve your orange juice or favorite kombucha in a daquiri glass, whatever the case, mix up the vessel for your non-alc beverage to make enjoying it a little special.
Tip #2: Enhance Your Sparkling Water
We’re going to go out on a limb here and assume a lot of what you’ll be enjoying this month is sparkling water (or maybe just plain water, it is good to hydrate, after all). While there is a variety of sparkling water flavors available, sometimes this bubbly transparent liquid looks a bit boring in a glass. There’s nothing like adding a little color, and flavor, to your otherwise simple beverage. Try tossing in a slice of citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, whatever sounds good), maybe a sprig of rosemary or mint, a slice of cucumber, or perhaps add a little dash of bitters, color brightens the mood and gives your palate a little something extra to perk up to.
Tip #3: Channel Your Inner Mixologist
No, not a cocktail mixologist, a mocktail mixologist. With non-alcoholic beverages on the rise, there’s a whole scene of fancy infused beverages sans spirits. The easy part is, a lot of cocktail recipes, especially those with non-alcoholic mixers, can easily be crafted into a mocktail. A fan of margaritas? Sub sparkling water for tequila and add a bit of orange-flavored simple syrup for Cointreau. Fancy yourself a mimosa or bellini? Again, pretty easy to just sub in sparkling water for Prosecco and add your usual favorite mixer.
If you want to get even fancier, make a few herb or fruit infused simple syrups. These easy 1:1 concoctions have endless possibilities. Add one part water and one part sugar to a sauce pot and simmer over low heat until it thickens. Have fun with it! Add citrus peels, herb sprigs, spices, and/or fruit for fun flavors.
When your palate is missing the bright zip of acid you usually get from a white wine, shrubs can be your friend here. A shrub is a simple drink made with vinegar, sugar and fruit. The basic shrub is a 1:1 mix of one part vinegar (usually apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or champagne vinegar, not distilled white vinegar) and one part sugar with whatever fruit, herbs or spices desired (you may need to adjust the sugar depending on the amount and type of fruit used). The mix is muddled, sealed, and then left to refrigerate for 2-3 days until it turns into a syrup. Strain and voilà, you have a shrub! This is very strong on its own, so you’ll want to mix an ounce of your new syrup into sparkling water or tonic water and embellish with fruit and herbs as desired.
Tip #4: Get Cooking
Whether you have a New Year’s Resolution to cook at home more (or maybe just learn how to cook), creating your own meal is not only a rewarding feat, it’s generally going to be better for you than eating out or ordering in. And while January is the month of healthy eating, “healthy food” doesn’t have to be boring, sad, or bland. There are excellent and flavorful immune system supporting ingredients that you can incorporate into your healthier meals that will brighten and add more complexity to your dish. Think garlic, olive oil, lemon, turmeric – all vitamin-rich foods that add delicious flavor and are good for you. Win win. So as you’re incorporating more brassicas into your diet (kales, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower), whole grains (barley, millet, farro, etc), and beets, add any of the above ingredients, with ample seasoning, and you’ll create a delicious palate-pleasing meal.
Tip #5: Go Out and Have Fun!
Abstaining from your favorite alcoholic beverage doesn’t mean abstaining from socializing altogether. There’s no need to burrow inside under blankets reading self-help books while sipping your kale smoothie to wait until February 1st to roll around to have fun again (unless you want to, you do you). But sure, maybe it’s awkward to not order a glass of wine or cocktail at your favorite restaurant or bar with your besties, especially if everyone isn’t doing a Dry January, but these days, the plethora of opportunity for interesting non-alcoholic beverages is endless. Ask your server what mixers they have behind the bar, or maybe just ask if they can throw a sprig of mint and a lemon slice into your sparkling water, whatever the case, laughing and going out with your people is always fun, and needed! Just remember to ask for a fancy glass. 😉
So put a cork in it, and we’ll see you February 1st.