Five Hacks To Keep Dry January Going Through 2023
I’m more of a damp January kind of person — rethinking my relationship with alcohol and cutting back. And this is a habit I’d like to commit to throughout the year. But it’s so easy to pour a glass of wine at the end of a busy day….
So it needs to be just as easy to reach for zero-proof option. One thing I’ve learned is that simplicity key. I’ve read that “friction” can make or break a new habit, meaning, if it’s easier to have a zero-proof drink than it is to have a full-proof one, I am more likely to reach for the zero-proof. And if an N/A beverage feels like as much of a treat as a full-proof one, it will be easier to skip the booze.
I’m still not there — it takes planning (and shipping) to have a tasty have a delicious zero-proof cocktail at eye level all the time. But here are some of the hacks that have helped me cut back.
•Don’t try to layer on health benefits. I’ve tried a whole lot of drinks lately that tout adaptogens or other nutrients in their offerings. It seldom works. Just like I don’t reach for a Negroni because it’s good for me, I don’t expect the N/A versions to bring anything beyond enjoyment of a good beverage. Right now, I’m a big fan of Avec—this Black female co-founded brand uses real juice and botanicals, rather than artificial ingredients or “natural” flavor. So, unlike a lot of other “premium” mixers, their Ginger mixer uses actual ginger root extract — it’s spicy on its own, and makes a delightful Dark ‘n’ Stormy mixed with zero-proof rum. Each of the five flavors ($36 for a 12-pack including shipping) are a spin on a classic mixer. My other favorites are the Yuzu & Lime instead of a soda & lime, and the Grapefruit & Pomelo, because I’m a sucker for a Paloma.
•Bitter is better. I suspect one of the reasons that wine is so difficult to replicate is the complexity of flavors, and lack of any bitter component. So I’ve found the most successful zero-proof pre-made cocktails have a bitter component. Right now, I am obsessed with St. Agrestis N/A line — don’t know what wizardry they have employed, but the new Amaro Falso ($59.99 for a 12-pack) brings the same satisfaction as its full proof sibling—a bitter, herbal highball. It joins the St. Agrestis Phony Negroni as my go-to for a satisfying zero-proof option. Katy Perry’s De Soi line ($70 for a 12-pack) is perhaps the exception that proves the rule above regarding health benefits — these spritzes tout adaptogens but don’t taste like medicine. While I’m planning an exploration of zero-proof bitters and vermouths in the future, I also wanted to call out Roots Divino — they make white and a red N/A vermouth from dealcoholized wine, flavored with Greek herbs like rosemary and gentian, to create a very satisfying sipper.
•Fresh juice elevates everything. Just squeeze a lemon into an N/A sparkling wine or a tonic water, and it brightens the experience. Or take it to the next level with these Twisted Alchemy cold-pressed juices, which are favored by restaurants like Nobu and Alinea, and are full of actual real ingredients — the Passion Fruit, for example, includes more than three pounds of cold-pressed passion fruit, along with a touch of cold-pressed cane stalk. Finish Dry January strong — or launch into dry February — with their The Ultimate Zero-Proof Cocktail Kit. They partnered with Aplós – a line of functional, non-alcoholic spirits that calm and uplift to create the kit, available through Valentine’s Day. They are donating 25 percent of the sales to Speed Rack, the high-speed bartending competition series for women that raises money for charities working on breast cancer research.
•Opt for beer: Zero-proof beer has made incredible strides over the past few years. Producers like Grüvi ($30.39 for a 12-pack) and Lagunitas ($8.99 for a six-pack), among many others, have produced brews that replicate everything from a Hazy New England IPA to a dark stout with great success. Plus cracking open a beer is very easy— and way cheaper than the cocktail options above.
•Find something you like and stock up. I was pleased to find that Athletic N/A beer has turned up at my local Market Basket. But for the most part, zero-proof options require shipping and planning—you can’t pop out to the liquor store and expect to find an array of N/A beverages. So figure out one you like, and always keep it at eye-level in your fridge.