Year after year, the month of January brings with it the hope and expectation for personal and societal improvements. Resolutions, new fitness habits, and a renewed sense of optimism are hallmarks of the first month of the year. And that may include turning to non-alcoholic beverages as a replacement for that night cap.
After the holiday season, many folks take the month of January to reset and refresh by eliminating all alcoholic drinks. The concept isn’t brand new or revolutionary but it has been steadily picking up steam. Your social media feeds are already likely filling up with folks proclaiming their sabbatical from beer, wine, and cocktails.
Maybe you’re casually interested in trying it out yourself but you need a little guidance in picking out your new favorite alcohol-free beverage. These are the non-alcoholic beers, spirits, and beverages to drink.
What is Dry January?
In practice, it’s a simple and straightforward concept. Abstain from all alcoholic beverages from January 1st to January 31st. Hypothetically, you could give yourself this challenge at any point during the year. But, there’s a bit of history behind the modern movement.
The current Dry January trend appears to have kicked off after researchers from the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at the University College London Medical School investigated the impact of a month-long stint of sobriety in 2013. Even earlier in 2006, writer John Ore coined the term “Drynuary” when he attempted his own month of abstinence. There’s even evidence suggesting that Finland had instituted a “Sober January” as part of a propaganda campaign during WWII.
What Are the Benefits of Dry January?
The practice of participating in Dry January has purported health benefits and gives folks an opportunity to reflect on their own consumption. While the science on semi-occasional detoxes is flimsy at best, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that a brief hiatus from consuming alcohol can provide serious benefits.
For one, not drinking means not consuming those extra calories from alcohol and the drunchies, which can help with weight loss whether you added “get in shape” on your New Year’s resolution or not. For some people, reduced drinking also leads to better sleep and clearer skin. However, each person’s body reacts differently and the impact is relative to the amount that someone typically drinks.
Regardless of any longterm effects, after plenty of alcohol over the holiday period, giving your body the chance to rest and recover might be wise.
What About Damp January?
“Damp January” is a term that refers to a modified version of the traditional “Dry January” challenge. Instead of completely abstaining from alcohol for the entire month, people who participate in “Damp January” commit to cutting down on their alcohol consumption, but not necessarily eliminating it completely.
For example, some people may choose to only drink on weekends, or to only have one or two drinks per day, instead of completely giving up alcohol for the month. The goal of “Damp January” is to reduce alcohol consumption and achieve some of the potential benefits of a dry month, such as improved sleep, weight loss, and improved liver function, but with a more flexible and realistic approach.
It’s important to note that whether you choose to do Dry January or Damp January, the most important thing is to be aware of your own drinking habits, and to make changes that are sustainable and beneficial for your overall health and well-being.
What Are Some Alcoholic-Free Drinks?
For casual alcohol consumers, one of the most significant challenges of committing to Dry January is finding non-alcoholic alternatives. But, as the trend has grown in popularity, more and more bars and restaurants have offered creative alcohol-free options and non-alcoholic cocktails.
When it comes to seeking out quality alcohol-free beverages, the best piece of advice is to be creative. Try mixing sparkling water with some juices or syrups you might use in your normal cocktails. Dive into the world of craft coffee or brew yourself some unique teas. The idea that non-alcoholic drinks are somehow boring is gone. It just requires you to try finding some creative alcohol-free alternatives.
For at-home consumption, there are several standout non-alcoholic options to consider. Non-alcoholic beer and alcohol-free spirits have risen in popularity and quality. Kombucha has earned a cult following and there are plenty of excellent craft kombucha breweries. Additionally, craft sodas, juices, and seltzers have popped up on the shelves of specialty grocery stores and markets.
The Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Non-alcoholic beer has long been popular in Europe and other parts of the world. More recently, the category has risen in the United States as drinkers have started to consider the health effects of excessive consumption and as trends like Dry January have become more common.
Athletic Brewing Co.
Athletic Brewing Co. from Stratford, Connecticut, has become synonymous with non-alcoholic beer. The brewery is lauded for producing NA beer with the same care and precision as its “regular” brewery counterparts. Rather than simply mimicking an alcoholic beer, Athletic Brewing’s offerings feel complete and all their own. You can find Athletic Brewing’s products at grocery stores and liquor stores across the country.
Rescue Club Brewing Co.
One of the most recent non-alcoholic breweries to hit the market is Vermont’s Rescue Club Brewing Co. Rescue Club is a collaborative effort from Burlington’s beloved Zero Gravity and renowned cider maker Citizen Cider. Framed around enjoyed the Great Outdoors, Rescue Club offers drinkers a non-alcoholic alternative packaged in eye-catching cans.
Barrel Brothers Brewing Co.
Barrel Brothers Brewing Co. has taken the unique approach of releasing alcohol-free versions of its standard beers rather than crafting wholly new products. The Windsor, California-based brewery has succeeded with non-alcoholic beers that taste remarkably similar to the “normal” versions.
Two Roots Brewing Co.
Two Roots Brewing exclusively releases non-alcoholic beer. But the San Diego brewery has also experimented with THC beverages for those looking for a cannabis-infused alternative. Either way, all of its products are alcohol-free. Strong branding and national availability makes Two Roots a great choice for Dry January.
Whether you’re looking to whip up some mocktails or need a flavorful non-alcoholic replacement for your favorite spirit, there are plenty of quality options. The non-alcoholic spirit category has blossomed over the past few years, particularly with botanical-forward spirits. Try any of these in a virgin drink or sip them on their own neat or over ice.
Seedlip is among the most popular non-alcoholic beverages period. A blend of beautiful branding along with smart marketing has singled out Seedlip as a top contender for Dry January challenges. It also helps that the company makes a damn fine product. The brand has a selection of recommended cocktails to try with its bottles so you can enjoy flavorful and high-quality mocktails at home.
Ghia has also picked up quite a bit of buzz for its branding and packaging. The unique bottle shape and fun marketing has earned it a spot on many home bar carts. Ghia’s focus is in remixing the classic aperitif in a non-alcoholic beverage. All-natural ingredients and no booze, Ghia is the real deal. Plus, Ghia has a list of delicious mocktails to test out your new alcohol-free beverage.
The botanical-forward beverage company Amass makes a variety of products including hard seltzers, lotions, candles, and, yes, even non-alcoholic spirits. Minimalist branding sets Amass apart from some of its louder, more aggressive counterparts. While Amass offers a lineup of standard spirits, the non-alcoholic versions are just as complex and flavorful.
Instagram-friendly graphics and branding have made Kin a popular alcohol-free option. Kin offers cans and bottles of non-alcoholic spirits derived from natural herbs and roots. Kin’s spirits can have a medicinal quality that’s common with most botanical-based beverages.
While hard kombucha has proliferated recently, a standard can of kombucha is considered non-alcoholic despite trace amounts of alcohol. Bottles and cans of kombucha now line the shelves of grocery stores, but there are also many fantastic craft and local producers offering refined takes on the tea-based beverage.
Yesfolk, based in Troy, New York, is one of the best kombucha breweries. The family team behind the brand takes a passionate and thoughtful approach to kombucha. And, they’ve branched out into vinegar, tonics, and ginger beer. You’ll find Yesfolk in select locations throughout the Northeast.
Baltimore-based HEX Ferments is another beloved kombucha brewery offering fermented veggies, kombuchas, and make-your-own kombucha kits sold in the Baltimore/DC area.
If you’ve strolled through Whole Foods you’ve likely noticed this uber-popular kombucha brand. Health-Ade’s kombuchas come in a variety of flavors and it has even experimented with a line of fun and delicious sodas. Find bottles at your local grocery store or order directly from the company for direct-to-door shipping.
Revive Kombucha is another vibrant kombucha brewery serving up high-quality booch and shipping it right to your door. The Sonoma, California, brand has also branched out into kombucha sodas offering unique remixes on classic sodas.
The world of better-for-you juices and sodas has seen a significant rise in popularity. Instagram has become the prime destination for unique and buzzworthy sodas and seltzers. Thanks to a wide variety of exciting flavors, these are great options for your Dry January non-alcoholic experimentations.
Ruby Hibiscus Water
Founded in New York City, Ruby is a multi-disciplinary brand combining the worlds of art, music, and non-alcoholic beverages. Ruby makes delicious, organic hibiscus water that tastes great on its own and works well in a variety of mocktails. The brand takes a unique approach to marketing with a playful style that embraces fun above all else.
Beautiful branding and a delicious product make Casamara Club the perfect drink for your Dry January journey. Itching for your favorite Italian amaro? These sodas offer the same flavors and refreshing bitterness you’d find in an aperitivo without the booze. Thoughtfully produced and impressively tasty, these just might become your new go-to beverage.
Recess’s soft branding has earned the brand a dedicated following on social media. Recess crafts hemp-infused sparkling waters, magnesium and adaptogen-infused drinks, as well as a powdered electrolyte version. The brand has attempted to offer a beverage that gives a calming sensation for relaxed social situations. All without alcohol.