Posts Tagged ‘Dry January’

How to Survive Dry January This Year

Have you made a resolution to eat healthier, drink less and get into better shape… just like last year? It’s that time when we need to reverse the indulgences of the holiday season and our pandemic binges over the past two years.

Some add vegan eating to this clean-up effort, but I’d suggest that you focus first on one of our guiltiest pleasures, drinking. In this case, the concept is Dry January to reinvigorate a healthy lifestyle for a month by abstaining from alcohol.  And, frankly, if it works for you, there’s no reason not to make at least some version of this a permanent part of every month going forward.

Courtesy Trinchero Family Estates

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!

Bars and Mocktails

Bars in New York City are jumping on the wellness bandwagon (not just for Dry January), tuning into our desire to scale back.

Le Crocodile ©Meryl Pearlstein

Concord Hill in Brooklyn invites you to dabble in innovative drink and flavor combinations with a deliciously fresh and spicy mocktail named Cruel Summer. Blending mango and orange juices with simple syrup gives a sweet contrast to the chili-based Chamoy hot sauce and Tajin rim. Williamsburg’s Le Crocodile mixes Ghia non-alcoholic aperitif with soda, Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic, rosemary and grapefruit juice. Brooklyn’s Bohemien Bar expands their cocktail offerings this month with a curated N/A cocktail menu. 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.

Courtesy Spiritless

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.

Courtesy Greenbar Distillery

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.

Elixirs, Mixers and Sparkling Water

Courtesy Curious Elixirs

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.

Courtesy HOP WTR

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.

Courtesy FREE RAIN

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.

Courtesy Found Bubbly

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.

Courtesy Casamara Club

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.

Courtesy AVEC

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).

Courtesy Shrubbly

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.

Courtesy SomethingElse

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.

AF Wines and Beer

Luminara wines © Meryl Pearlstein

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, a Chardonnay and a Red Blend, produced with 100% Napa Valley grapes.

Courtesy Surely

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.

Courtesy Prima Pavé

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.

DRY Reserve Courtesy DRY

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.

Courtesy Clausthaler

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.

Courtesy Bravus

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.

Courtesy BrewDog

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.

Courtesy GRUVI

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.

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 alcohol-free resorts in the Berkshires will motivate you.

Courtesy Kripalu

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.

Courtesy Canyon Ranch

Canyon Ranch offers 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.

Drink Up with Special Valentine’s Day Botanicals, Wines and Cocktails at Home

Valentine’s Day is a time for love, hearts and, of course, great beverages.  Here are a few intriguing choices that also make great gifts.

Restaurant Faves and Canned Cocktails

Courtesy Dante

Drink your berries and chocolates in the comfort of your living room with Dante’s limited- edition Valentine’s libations, “The Rose” (Lillet Rosé, Raspberry Eau de Vie, raspberry, rose) and “the Heart of Gold” (Rémy Martin VSOP, Cocchi Torino, Oloroso, chocolate bitters, cocoa). The team at this Greenwich Village Italian has assembled aphrodisiacal cocktail kits with bottles of these two special cocktails along with sensual additions like gold-rimmed martini glasses, illustrated coasters, matches, a hand-poured Negroni candle and a specially curated playlist.

Courtesy Ocean Prime NYC

Ocean Prime NYC offers their fizzy favorite, “Berries and Bubbles,” (Belvedere Citrus Vodka, Grand Marnier, marinated berries, fresh lemon and Domaine Chandon Brut) and a spicy “Prime Manhattan” with Woodford Reserve Private Selection, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Amaro Nonino, Rosemary Grapefruit Peppercorn Bitters to set the mood for your Valentine’s Day evening. The attractively designed kits for two are one-and-done with supplies for shaking and serving the cocktails, chocolate-dipped strawberries, a recipe card and a Valentine.

Princess Peach at Cote - (c) Gary He

Michelin-starred Cote pairs a meat-centric feast with a cocktail indulgence in their Valentine’s Day to-go- package. The Asian-inflected steakhouse menu includes an indulgent selection of “Steak and Eggs,” a Butcher’s Serenade (filet mignon, Nantucket Bay scallop, 45+ day dry-aged ribeye, American Wagyu, Japanese A5 wagyu ribeye and grand cru galbi), longevity noodles and soft serve. A sparkling accompaniment, the pale pink “Princess Peach” is an aromatic blend of Casa Dragones Blanco, Cocchi Rosa, lemon, peach syrup and La Caravelle Rosé Champagne.

Courtesy Social Hour Cocktails

Brooklyn-based Social Hour Cocktails gives you three fresh choices for your Valentine’s Day cocktail hour. Created by bartenders Julie Reiner and Tom Macy, the cocktails in a can are all New York in origin. The “Gin & Tonic” and “Whiskey Mule” are made with premium local spirits from the New York Distilling Company, also from Brooklyn. The more adventurous “Pacific Spritz” is crafted with ingredients sourced from the Finger Lakes for an unusual blend of Aperitivo liqueur and rosé with passionfruit and grapefruit flavors.

Gift a Lesson in Becoming a Sommelier or Mixologist

Courtesy Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Wine School

Are you and your significant other secretly yearning to be a sommelier? Join a wine class led by one of the foremost wine educators in the world, Kevin Zraly, creator of the world-famous Windows on the World Wine School. Your evening destination on February 15 is California for a day-after Valentine’s Day red-wine immersion. The One Hour California Red Wine Expert Class is offered through The School, now online. You’ll learn about the state’s various wine regions as you sip and swirl a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, a Napa Merlot and a Zinfandel. If the spirit so moves, there are three more classes available to complete your pre-somm education.

Courtesy Sotheby’s Wine

To prepare for the class, I suggest a visit to Sotheby’s Wine, New York online or in person. Even last-minute, the experts at the auction house’s elegant wine shop are adept at sourcing whatever vintage you might want or need. They’ll also help create the  perfect dessert and wine pairing for a romantic finale to your evening. Try the lovely Canard Duchene Brut Rosé NV 3 for its fresh strawberry notes, or splurge on Chateau Rieussec 2015 sauterne, bright with oranges, lemons and strawberries.

Katie Sips Cocktail Box (c) Katie Auth

If mixed cocktails are more your preference, NYC-based bartender Katie Auth will create a boozy bespoke evening at home from Katie Sips.  Katie’s Valentine’s Day program is an interactive, online class built around your choice of drinks. If you don’t have a preference for a particular cocktail, Katie will inspire your inner mixologist with her cocktail creativity. A cocktail kit is provided in advance. You’ll get everything you need for a perfect beverage —  syrups, garnishes, mixers and more – except the liquor. How about a Valentine-appropriate “Turkish Fizz” made with Hendrick’s Gin, lemon juice, pistachio-rosewater orgeat syrup, egg whites and soda, garnished with dehydrated rose buds; or a retro “Pink Lady,” also made with gin and egg whites but enhanced with applejack and a few dashes of grenadine.  Both are pretty and pink and deceptively powerful.

Continue your “Dry January” Resolution with a “Calm February” Valentine’s Day

Courtesy Proteau

Red is the color of love, especially dark red. Proteau botanical beverages are dark-red, non-alcoholic drinks in a beautiful cut-glass bottle. Created in New York City from extensive research into Italian amaro, fortified wines and vermouth, and enhanced by years of cocktail creativity at noted speakeasy PDT, cocktail master and Proteau creator John deBary removed the alcohol but left an intriguing blend of botanicals that is every bit as intoxicating as their alcoholic inspirations. For Valentine’s Day,” zero-proof Ludlow Red” is a balanced concoction of bitter, floral, and fruity with notes of blackberry, chrysanthemum, black pepper and dandelion. “Rivington Spritz” offers a sparkling version that is refreshing and bright with hints of hibiscus and chamomile flowers, Chinese rhubarb, gentian, strawberries and a touch of artisanal vinegar. The two-pack gift set is a refreshing gift for those days when alcohol is not on the menu.

A New Yorker’s Tips for Surviving Dry January

Dry January is something I dread every year but after a year like no other, we should all probably dry out for a month. You know, cleanse and get back on track with “better living” and a bit more discipline. I failed last year, but this year I’m determined to do it right.

Experiment with Great Mocktails

Le Crocodile Photo By: Meryl Pearlstein

January’s a nice opportunity to dabble in drink and flavor combinations you may not know. Victor Bautista of Concord Hill in Brooklyn offers up a deliciously fresh and spicy mocktail that might be my go-to for the next month. His appropriately named “Cruel Summer” blends mango and orange juices with simply syrup for a sweet contrast to the chili-based Chamoy hot sauce and Tajin rim.

Ghia - non-alcoholic aperitif with soda

Williamsburg’s Le Crocodile in The Wythe Hotel mixes Ghia non-alcoholic aperitif with soda, Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic, rosemary and grapefruit juice.

Stone Hollow Farmstead

I’ve always found that a Virgin Mary or, as some call it, a Bloody Shame tastes pretty damn good given all its pickled vegetable, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and peppery ingredients. Red or green Bloody Mary mixes from Stone Hollow Farmstead have nailed the no-alcohol version using their own farm veggies.  And, I’m not kidding you, you won’t miss the vodka. Or the hangover. Another spicy and healthy Bloody variant is the plant-filled Hairless Dog, made with Ritual Zero spirits and V8 juice.

Seedlip

Experiment, too, with creatively layered beverages with a base of Seedlip, distilled, non-alcoholic spirits made with botanicals and herbs. Refresh with a MartiNO is made with Seedlip Spice 94, cold-brewed coffee and simple syrup, or sip an herbal version neat, Seedlip Garden 108, or citrus-based Grove 42 on the rocks. Bourbon lovers can try Spiritless, made in Kentucky with notes of caramel, vanilla and oak.

Substitute Non-alcoholic Beverages for Your Favorite Wines and Beer

I’m a huge proponent of drinking wine not only for enjoyment but also for its health benefits. Red wine, in particular, has antioxidants and is reputed to promote heart health, longevity and the French-endorsed benefit of keeping you slim and trim. Light beers have always been a diet-friendly substitute for heavier craft brews. But, come New Year’s I’m going Dry January with alternatives that provide a refreshing change.

Rock Grace

Rock Grace has a line of non-alcoholic elixirs and bubbly so delicious that you may not miss the alcoholic content of your usual glass of white or rosé. Made with botanicals and adaptogens rather than sweeteners or preservatives, the ruby red drinks give you a taste of summer and a welcome dose of calm and wellness.

For a flavor kick, the sparkling white alcohol-free wine, HUGO.O alternativa, hails from Florida and is made with immune-boosting elderberry and mint.

FRE wines

If California wines are your favorites, you’ll enjoy FRE alcohol-removed wines, made in the heart of Napa Valley. Their sister winery, Sutter Home Family Vineyards, provides all the endorsement you’ll need: they pour FRE wines at their tasting room along with their own vintages.

H2O Sonoma Soft Seltzer

Also from California, the new H2O Sonoma Soft Seltzer is the world’s first wine-infused non-alcoholic sparkling water, currently available in three varietals: Pinot Noir, Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc. These sparkling beverages are packaged in recyclable cans and are made with dealcoholized wine and natural flavors.

Clausthaler

Clausthaler craft non-alcoholic beers taste just like the real brew. This German brewery has the pedigree, too, as they are an exclusively N/A brewery in existence for 40 years. For a kick, try their new grapefruit beer or their special holiday Santa beer.

Experiment with Other Delicious Beverages

Juice Press

Juice Press has a full range of bottled vegetable and fruit-based drinks that will add a boost of pizzazz with ingredients like turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper. If you’re a coffee drinker, jazz up your beverage with a seasonal shot of eggnog syrup, peppermint and chocolate, or toasted caramel white chocolate – these are all readily available at Starbucks along with tea-based drinks like hot or cold matcha latte.  In upscale grocery stores, Recess offers a line of sparkling beverages with non-traditional flavor combinations. Try their peach ginger, pomegranate hibiscus or blackberry chair for something different.

Perrier

Perrier has upped their game, too, with new flavors like cucumber and lime, peach, and watermelon that make great mixers in mocktails. They’ve also partnered with  @TheWeekendMixologst and @Apartment_Bartender to create several original recipes to help you stay creative with your zero-alcohol beverages. Try combining chilled green tea and Perrier with fresh lime and pineapple juices and a smidge of passionfruit syrup, for example.

Make It Count with a More Plant-Based Diet

Hummus Kitchen

Dry January is the perfect reason to add more plant-based dishes to your meals. Call them vegetarian, vegan or even pescatarian for those who can’t totally give up seafood, just up the quantities of veggies while reducing or completely eliminating red or white meat for the month. Options are easier to find than ever, both in NYC restaurants and grocery stores. Try restaurants like Manhattan’s Hummus Kitchen, The Hummus & Pita Co. and Shark Tank winner Beyond Sushi to whet your taste buds with Mediterranean specialties that are low in fat and high in taste. Dishes like shakshuka, pasta with sage and butternut squash, and garlic hummus on pita pair well with non-alcoholic fruit drinks, sparkling seltzers with a squeeze of fruit, and non-alcoholic white or sparkling wines.

Burn off Those Alcohol-Induced Pounds with More Exercise

Bonded by the Burn

When you feel the urge to have a drink, think movement or exercise instead. It may be as nutty as dancing by yourself in your home, or going for a quick run or brisk walk during your usual cocktail hour.  If there are other triggers that make you want to order your usual, try to identify them  and elicit the support of others during those times. Cocktail hour could become stretch hour, a lovely prelude to dinner with your favorite mocktail or non-alcoholic beer. For a more disciplined approach, consider a trial subscription to Bonded by the Burn with its extensive program of resistance-bands classes. The first seven days are free, so give it a go.

Planning a trip to NYC?