Travel and Beverage Options to Help You Enjoy Dry January (and Maybe Even Beyond)
You won’t be alone. According to the New York Post, 17% of Americans are going booze-free this free, up from 9% last year. I guess we’ve all had a pretty rough year or two.
To kickstart this “new you” process, I’ve put together some suggestions that will fill in the blanks with taste and variety leading to the psychological and physical rewards you’ll experience after you complete your foray into clean living. You may not know it, but if you’ve turned into a pandemic insomniac, this might actually be your ticket to a better night’s sleep and better-looking skin!
Booze-free Bars and Mocktails
Bars throughout the US are jumping on the wellness bandwagon (not just for Dry January), tuning into our desire to scale back.
The Nixer (so)bar is a new pop-up dry bar in Phoenix that offers only non-alcoholic beverages. Non-alcohol spirits like Kentucky 74, Ritual Gin Alternative, Amass Riverine, Ghia, Aplos and Bonbuz are used in all craft cocktails, providing adaptogens and nootropics that give you a buzz of sorts without any booze. (Adaptogens are components of herbal medicines said to help the body deal with mood support and stress release while nootropics are “smart” drugs that claim to improve mental performance).
Jacksonville, Florida has two AF (alcohol-free) bars. Wildcrafters is a 100% booze-free serving craft mocktails, teas and kava, a plant-based root extract. Kava also features at Green Turtle Kava Bar, which serves elaborate tropical concoctions in Instagrammable coconut shells. For other worthy substitutes for alcohol, Prati Italia and Posting House focus on homemade sodas infusing flavors of orange, cinnamon and vanilla. Kanine Social welcomes dog owners with a zero-alcohol menu of cold brew on tap, kombucha and CBD water.
North Carolina encourages a dry January at Ginger Fox, a cocktail bar teamed up with Village Juice Company to create fresh and sustainable mocktails in downtown Winston-Salem. In Greensboro, Dram and Drought serves up creative mocktails featuring non-alcohol botanical and herb-filled Seedlip, including the Princess Peach and Shooting Blanks.
Burnt Church Distillery in Bluffton, SC has created its own non-alcoholic spirit Amethyst, which is distilled and blended with fruits and botanicals giving the same mouthfeel as a full-bodied spirit. Pair a bite or two with their Amey Sour, made with Amethyst lemon cucumber serrano, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white. Garnish with a cucumber ribbon – it’s as pretty as it is healthy.
Louisiana joins the rush to include shrubs, either plain or in mocktail. At Bywater American Bistro in New Orleans, Chef Nina Compton serves up the We Want a Shrubbery!, featuring a blueberry-blood orange shrub, sparkling soda and an orange garnish, and named for one of the funniest scenes in Spamalot. Mister Mao, a New Orleans restaurant with an “inauthentic” global focus, has created Hibiscus Masala Lemonade, a pretty red refresher made with hibiscus tea, chaat masala, fresh lime and house-made ginger syrup, garnished with marigolds.
I’ve always found that an alcohol-free Virgin Mary or, as some call it, a Bloody Shame tastes pretty darn good given all its pickled vegetable, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and peppery ingredients. For a perfect Bloody that seems more like a meal than a beverage, ask the mixologists at the Blackwolf Run at the American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin to leave out the vodka in their Milwaukee-inspired version. With the spicy tomato juice base, cheese curds, jerky, pickle, bacon, olive and variety of other crazy garnishes that distinguish it, it you probably won’t miss the booze.
New York City invites you to dabble in innovative drink and flavor combinations. Brooklyn’s Bohemien Bar expands their cocktail offerings this month with a curated N/A cocktail menu. The Welcome to Paradise blends fennel juice and pomegranate molasses. Using a base of Ritual Tequila, The Roselle adds bitter orange cordial, lime, and hibiscus to create a margarita-like alternative.
For a wintry cocktail at home, you can create your own bourbon-ish drink with the popular Kentucky-made AF spirit, Spiritless Kentucky 74, enjoying the caramel, vanilla and oak flavors on the rocks, or combined with AVEC mixers and cherries for a Faux Old Fashioned.
Thanks to California’s Greenbar Distillery, you can stock your refrigerator with a range of canned mocktails. Bitters + Soda lovers will enjoy the Earl Grey version made with black tea and bergamot orange. For hard spirit substitutes, try the UnRum + Cola or UnGin + Tonic.
AF Wines and Beer
DRY Botanical Bubbly Reserve is perfect for any celebratory toasts you have. The sophisticated alcohol-free Champagne-like beverage ups the flavor game, too, with Lavender 75 and Spiced Pear. More than typical sparkling wine or sparkling apple cider, these two options will look beautiful in your Champagne flutes.
Love California wines? Then you’ll enjoy FRE alcohol-removed wines by Trinchero Family Estates. These wines are made using traditional winemaking methods, but then the alcohol is gently removed. You can try their nine varietals including Moscato, White Zinfandel, Rosé, Chardonnay, Merlot, Red Blend and Cabernet Sauvignon and two sparkling versions also available in cans, a Brut and a Rosé. Drink them straight or invent a winter-perfect, alcohol-free libation like Mulled Wine using Fre’s Cabernet Sauvignon as a base. Trinchero also has two new upscale Luminara wines, an oaky Chardonnay and a Red Blend, produced with 100% Napa Valley grapes.
Sonoma Valley also has a lovely alcohol-free wine collection. Surely’s non-alcoholic wine is also made from wine with the alcohol removed. A favorite in their line is their Non-Alcoholic Cabernet Sauvignon, bold and full-bodied, and made with 100% Sonoma Valley grapes.
For a quick alcohol-free trip to Italy, Prima Pavé Alcohol Free Sparkling Wines are made with a mix of varietals, adding to their complexity and designed for harmonious pairing with food. Handcrafted in Italy with no sugar or chemicals added, Prima Pavé showcases terroir and an intoxicating depth of flavor. Dealcoholized through a proprietary, all-natural process, the sophisticated bubblies come in Rosé Brut, Blanc de Blancs and Rosé Dolce.
For the dabblers out there, Denver’s GRUVI offers a line of beers AND wines that are all alcohol-free. You can mix it up and have an AF IPA, Pale Ale, Stout, Sour Weisse or Golden Ale one week, then switch over to wines and sparkling beverages with their non-alcoholic dry Seco, dry Bubbly Rosé, or Seasonal Red Blend (which conveniently comes in a can). Or have a beer one day, a wine the next, and so on. Dry January is meant to be fun and tasty. I’m excited about this one, as I love sour beers and this is the first non-alcoholic one I’ve seen.
Clausthaler craft non-alcoholic beers taste just like the real brew. The German brewery has the pedigree, too, as they are an exclusively N/A brewery in existence for more than 40 years with a patented process for making beer that doesn’t create alcohol. There are dry-hopped beers, IPAs, and, for a kick, try their new grapefruit beer or their special holiday Santa beer.
Brewed in California, Bravus alcohol-free beer is a line of flavor-filled, no-alcohol beers that span the range from IPAs and amber ale to dark peanut butter and oatmeal stouts. You can order a set and try them all. Bravus produces craft beer styles taste exactly like their alcoholic counterparts but with less than .5% ABV, thanks to a proprietary brewing process.
You’ll never run out of choices with BrewDog’s creatively crafted and creatively named non-alcoholic beers. The brewery has versions continually coming online, some limited like the Ganache AF cherry stout, and others that are mainstays like the flagship Nanny State. Don’t limit yourself – buy a four-variety bundle and sample a bunch.
Elixirs, Mixers and Sparkling Water
Tea lovers will enjoy this new aroma-focused collection from SomethingElse, masters at creating non-alcoholic beverages using the expertise of chefs and sommeliers. Kally is an innovative blend of teas, fruits, herbs and spices with acidity similar to most alcoholic drinks. The beverages are designed to pair with food and come in four varieties, No.11 Jasmine Spice, No.23 Orchard Sage, No. 70 Vanilla Smoke and No. 93 Berry Fennel.
Offered in three flavors, Classic, Mango and Blood Orange, HOP WTR is a non-alcoholic brew of crisp, bold hops, sparkling water and mood-boosting adaptogens and nootropics crafted without calories or sugar. The tasty beer alternatives are bright and refreshing, perfect for Superbowl parties or anytime during Dry January or beyond.
Curious Elixirs are complex booze-free cocktails, handmade in the Hudson Valley with all-organic ingredients. Instead of adding sugar, the drinks are infused with adaptogens. The seven-bottle series has versions of classic drinks like a pomegranate negroni, a spicy margarita, a dark & stormy fusion, the craftily named Curious cucumber Collins, or a more refined Champagne cocktail that has a base of Chardonnay grapes.
FREE RAIN is a line of adaptogenic sparkling waters that will become your new go-to when it comes to grabbing a drink with your meal. FREE RAIN comes in four fun flavors: Focus: Blood Orange Ginger with Ashwagandha for a clear mind, Arousal: Pink Grapefruit with Maca for a frisky feeling , Calm: Blackberry with Passionflower for a mellow mood and Energy: Cherry Lime with Siberian ginseng for energy.
A newcomer to the sparkling beverages category, Found Bubbly is said to be the first sparkling water created through Earth’s “naturally occurring mineralization process.” Packed with minerals and electrolytes, the beverage has been “dropping” new flavors sequentially so you can look forward to another flavor in February. For now, you can try natural, cucumber minty, elderflowery, lemony and watermelon.
If you’re a fan of Italian amaros, you don’t need to sacrifice the bitter state of an after-dinner digestif if you’re observing Dry January. Casamara Club is a club soda crafted like a cocktail, mixing amaro bitters made with botanicals with citrus, salinity and a touch of sweetness. The five flavors, Alta (like a Negroni), Como (like a traditional amaro with mint), Onda (an herbaceous lemon drink), Isla (like a rum and ginger ale) and Fora (a strawberry and spice mix), are refreshingly different.
For a wide range of mixers that double as mocktails, AVEC mixers offers five canned cocktails: spicy marg AVEC ( jalapeño and blood orange), paloma AVEC (grapefruit and pomelo, vodka soda AVEC (yuzu and lime) mule AVEC (ginger),and cran vodka AVEC (hibiscus and pomegranate).
Shrubs, vinegar-based infusions, have been the rage on health-oriented drink menus for years. Now you can have them at home, too, with Shrubbly, a new non-alcoholic beverage full of flavor (shrub base, high antioxidant berries , and a few bubbles) and wellness (prebiotics, apple cider vinegar and wellness shot ingredients). Try the lemon-ginger and pomegranate flavors. Each is 100% organic, gluten-free, fat-free and low in calories, sugar and carbs.
Travel to Mindfulness
If you’re seriously lacking motivation and could use a bit of non-Zoom, in-person fitness instruction as well, perhaps these three alcohol-free trips will motivate you.
The Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, NC is an alcohol-free Ayurvedic, yoga and meditation wellness retreat in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The gorgeous 380-acre setting and understanding staff will help you detox and cleanse, and you’ll have a lovely vacation customized to your tastes. Choose from programming that includes yoga, meditation, happiness seminars and silent retreats.
In the Berkshires Mountains in Western Massachusetts, Kripalu is a popular choice for those desiring a no-alcohol, no-frills, all-vegetarian well-being retreat. Days are filled with activities like yoga, dance, forest bathing and spa treatments. Seminars can include lessons in healthful cooking and mindfulness. Beautiful plant-based food choices also include beverages like hibiscus-lavender iced tea.
Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona and Lenox, Massachusetts offer January programming with learning sessions, fitness classes, healthy meals, mocktail hours and more. The no-alcohol wellness resort also has vegetarian and vegan dining to help you stick to your January resolutions. The resort offers life-enhancing “pathways,” curated programs of varying lengths that include mindfulness, fitness and spa treatments.
For a hotel stay with a healthy January focus, Miami’s Kimpton Surfcomber on South Beach takes advantage of its oceanside location with DAYLIFE wellness activities like outdoor yoga, Zumba and aquatic Zumba. The hotel’s restaurant, The Social Club offers a variety of menu of fresh pressed juices including an immunity-boosting Back to the Roots juice made with turmeric, ginger, red beets and carrots.