Year after year the month of January brings with it the hope and expectation for improvements. We look forward to the new year for personal and societal growth. Resolutions, new fitness habits, and a renewed sense of optimism are hallmarks of the first month of the year. And, as the trend has picked up steam, non-alcoholic beverages, too.
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. Well, we’re here to help. Below we’ve rounded up our favorite non-alcoholic beers, spirits, and beverages to drink.
What is Dry January?
Before we get into the drinks themselves, let’s tackle the reason for the sober season. What exactly is Dry January? In practice, it’s simple. 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 this recent fad.
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.
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. After plenty of alcohol over the holiday period, giving your body the chance to rest and recover might be wise.
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 virgin cocktails.
When it comes to seeking out quality alcohol-free beverages our best piece of advice is: 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. Below we’ve picked out the best non-alcoholic drinks from each of these categories.
The Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Non-alcoholic beer has long been popular among Muslim consumers and at sports venues in Europe where alcohol is prohibited. More recently, the category has risen in North America 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.
Stratford, CT’s Athletic Brewing Co. has become synonymous with non-alcoholic beer. The brewery is lauded for producing NA beer with the same care and precision as their “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 all over the East Coast or you can order directly from the brewery.
Cool Material Pick: Run Wild Atheltic Brewing makes non-alcoholic beers across a variety of styles including Mexican Lager and Hefeweizen, but we’d recommend starting with their flagship Run Wild IPA. An East Coast IPA, Run Wild offers a balanced malt bill and vibrant hop profile perfect for IPA fans.
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.
Cool Material Pick: IPA Rescue Club’s flagship offering IPA is a great option to kick off your alcohol-free journey. Rescue Club IPA is brewed with Citra and Motueka hops for a punch of tropical fruit and juicy citrus notes.
Barrel Brothers Brewing Co.
Barrel Brothers Brewing Co. has taken the unique approach of releasing alcohol-free versions of their standard beers rather than crafting wholly new products. And, as far as we can tell, the Windsor, California-based brewery has succeeded with non-alcoholic beers that taste remarkably similar to the “normal” versions.
Cool Material Pick: Blonde Voyage Blonde Voyage from Barrel Brothers Brewing Co. is a non-alcoholic version of the brewery’s blonde ale. Balanced, refreshing, and flavorful, you won’t miss the alcohol in this edition.
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 Two Roots’ products are alcohol-free. Strong branding and national availability makes Two Roots a great choice for Dry January.
Cool Material Pick: Enough Said Enough Said from Two Roots Brewing Co. is the brewery’s award-winning Helles Lager. Enough Said earned a gold medal from the Great American Beer Festival in the non-alcoholic category and is a simple yet refreshing beer made with pilsner malt and Hallertau hops.
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 they make a damn fine product. The brand has a selection of recommended cocktails to try with their products so you can enjoy flavorful and high-quality mocktails at home.
Cool Material Pick: Garden 108 We’d suggest kicking off your Seedlip journey with Garden 108, a non-alcoholic spirit made with peas, spearmint, rosemary, and more. Fresh and herbal, Garden 108 is thin but has a noticeable acidity. Sip it straight or consider using in a highball or sour.
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 reminding us of the Italian aperitivi we know and love. Plus, Ghia has a list of delicious mocktails to test out your new alcohol-free beverage.
Cool Material Pick: Ghia OG Ghia doesn’t offer a wide variety of non-alcoholic products instead focusing just on their base recipe. The brand has released a spritzed version of its non-alcoholic Aperitif but we’d suggest trying out the original version first. Drink it over ice or make your own spritz at home.
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.
Cool Material Pick: Riverine Riverine is a non-alcoholic spirit made with botanicals like juniper, coriander, and orris root. You should expect it to taste pretty similar to gin so consider swapping it into your favorite gin cocktails. Or, simply enjoy over ice with a splash of tonic water and a lemon slice.
Rounding out our selection of non-alcoholic spirits is Kin. 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 but we find that’s common with most botanical-based beverages. Try one of their Dry January kits for a complete experience in the world of non-alcoholic drinks.
Cool Material Pick: Kin Spritz Kin’s bottles of non-alcoholic spirits are certainly worth trying out but for a stellar drinking experience, get yourself cans of the bubbly Kin Spritz. Refreshing and herbaceous, Kin Spritz is the complete package as a delicious virgin drink.
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 we’ve found many fantastic craft and local producers offering refined takes on the tea-based beverage.
Yesfolk, based in Troy, NY, is one of the best kombucha breweries we’ve ever come across. 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. The team has taken a break for the holidays but you should be able to place orders directly from Yesfolk shortly.
Cool Material Pick: Yaupon Yesfolk’s Yaupon kombucha is lovely. Yaupon is a close relative of yerba mate and guayusa so you’ll find natural caffeine present as well as minty apple flavors. It’s a refreshing kombucha perfect for newcomers to the beverage.
Baltimore, MD-based HEX Ferments is another beloved kombucha brewery offering fermented veggies, kombuchas, and make-your-own kombucha kits. Sadly the brewery doesn’t offer nationwide shipping on its kombucha bottles but you can pick up bottles in the Baltimore/DC area.
Cool Material Pick: Butterfly Lime This vibrant purple kombucha is a show-stopper. Made with sweet pea flowers, organic lime juice, and organic honey, you’ll find a kombucha that is bright, acidic, and floral.
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 unique flavors and they’ve 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.
Cool Material Pick: Ginger-Lemon It might seem boring but for those new to kombucha, start with the original flavors. Ginger and lemon is a classic combination in kombucha resulting in a tangy fruit flavor.
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.
Cool Material Pick: Classic Sparkling Variety Pack Get yourself a set of Revive’s classic flavors and find your favorite. The set includes Cherry Hibiscus, Citrus Ginger, Mango Orange, and Strawberry Lemon. You’re sure to find something unique and exciting.
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.
Cool Material Pick: Lightly Sweetened Hibiscus Water At the moment, Ruby’s offerings are limited to an unsweetened and lightly sweetened version of its hibiscus water. The lightly sweetened version is a good stepping stone into the beverage with just a touch of sugar added. Tart, refreshing, and flavorful Ruby is a great addition to your beverage rotation. Enjoy straight from the bottle or mix into a mocktail.
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.
Cool Material Pick: Alta If you want to shop around, consider scooping up the variety case but our personal favorite offering is Alta. Available in cans and bottles, Alta is bracingly bitter and delicious. It’s like a sparkling version of the Negroni.
Recess’ soft, Millenial 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.
Cool Material Pick: The Recess Sampler While it might be a little pricey, the Recess Sampler is the best way to try all of Recess’ tasty offerings. Flavors include peach ginger, blackberry chai, pomegranate hibiscus, black cherry, coconut lime, and blood orange. Enjoy Dry January with a calm, cool beverage.
Ugly Drinks may take the cake for the most stellar branding and bonkers beverage flavors. After sampling some of their sparkling waters, you might not return to booze. Ugly Drinks makes non-alcoholic seltzers with personality. The brand offers a selection of standard flavors like Orange Soda or Cherry Cola as well as insane limited editions like Birthday Cake, Pumpkin Spice, and more.
Cool Material Pick: Anything Limited Edition If you’re truly hesitant about giving Ugly Drinks a try this Dry January, maybe pick up some more familiar flavors like Dr. Ugly or Cherry Cola. But, for the adventurous, try any of the brand’s limited-edition flavors for something really unique. Current options include Birthday Cake and Candy Cane. Invite some friends over and sample some special non-alcoholic drinks.