Bar Talk: Dry January is over. What now? |

Bar Talk: Dry January is over. What now?

Zero-proof cocktails made it easier for consumers to drink less alcohol, while still enjoying a beautiful beverage.
Rose Laudicina / Photo

Dry January has officially come to an end.

Thirty-one days of abstaining from alcohol. Thirty-one days of navigating going out to eat without ordering a glass of wine. Thirty-one days of finding non-alcoholic drinks to cheers with.

My reason for participating in Dry January was simple: My husband was doing it, so I thought it would be fun to join and also good column fodder.

Proponents of the challenge say participating is more than just proving to yourself that you can do it. You can gain a sense of clarity, have more energy, start to understand your relationship with — and, for some, dependence on — alcohol, lose some weight, save some money, and even get a better night’s sleep.

So what exactly did I get out of a month without alcohol?

I suppose collectively my husband and I saved money by not grabbing a bottle of wine or a six pack of beers to have at home during the month. Although my $38 bottle of NA spirit to experiment with making mocktails was not exactly cheap, it was cheaper than a couple bottles of wine that probably would have been purchased over the month.

My costs for dining out over the month was considerably less without the addition of alcohol, with the exception of the zero-proof cocktails I tried during a night out in Aspen, which were only a few dollars cheaper than if I had drinks with actual alcohol in them.

Also, when it comes to dining out while sober, I did feel a slight sense of guilt for not ordering a drink and just having water or sparkling water with a meal. The mocktail options in town are honestly a bit limited, at least from what I found, and I don’t drink sodas or coffee; so finding options to replace a cocktail with at dinner while dining out was difficult for me.

I can’t for sure say if I had more energy or mental clarity, but it was nice to be able to wake up after an evening out knowing that I wouldn’t have to contend with any ill effects of imbibing the night before for the day ahead.

When I asked my significant other about his thoughts on Dry January, he said that it was “surprisingly easy” to fall into coming off the festive holiday season. He also said he preferred going alcohol-free in January to trying in other months, such as the also popular Sober October.

“(Dry January) is a good way to move into a more moderate lifestyle” when it comes to alcohol, he said.

Now that the 31 days are over, what’s next?

Neither of us have decided to go fully sober moving forward but instead are going to continue with the theme of somewhat heavy moderation in February, and I am going to keep trying to master making mocktails at home.

With that being said, I already have my eyes on some new drinks around town that I want to try, a canned cocktail writeup in the works and plans to check out a recently James Beard Award-nominated bar program in my home state of North Carolina when I go back east for a long weekend in February.

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