What is Dry January?
Dry January is a practice I have participated in with varying degrees of success over the years. The concept was started in 2012 by Alcohol Change UK, a British charity to “ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days.”
Millions of people now participate in the challenge, with more Americans taking notice each year. The sober curious movement has also taken hold – people who find themselves ready to reset their relationship with alcohol decide to undertake a period of sobriety to examine their relationship with alcohol.
There is no question that Americans have increased their drinking since the start of the pandemic, with alcohol sales rising 54% the first week of the pandemic and leveling off at a 14% increase year over year. If you have a problem with alcohol, please get help. There is no shame in examining your alcohol use, and Alcoholics Anonymous or a therapist is a great place to start.
I participate in Dry January for a few reasons. It helps me reset after a season typically heavy on champagne, and it also coincides with wanting to establish healthy routines in the new year. When I am not drinking, I eat better and have higher willpower to resist after-dinner desserts and snacks. No drinking in January also saves me money as I typically feel pretty broke after the holiday gift-giving season.
Dry January will have a brief interruption for a ski trip this year but will generally last through February 1. Making it through Dry January is easier than ever with lots of support this year, including a Facebook group started by the Star Tribune with over 600 fellow “Dry January” friends.
To help ease the transition, I have some great Dry January helpers and hacks and a recipe or two (See these recipes for Mocktails from Dry Januaries of years’ past)
Don’t Go It Alone:
Enlist your spouse, a friend, or find a community (see Star Tribune Group) to help support you throughout the month.
Say It Out Loud:
It’s much easier to hold yourself accountable to a goal that you share with others.
Plan a Reward:
Stay focused on what you are gaining versus what you are losing. Create a savings account or set aside $10 for every drink you don’t have and plan something fun for when the end of the month is over.
Find Some Yummy Mocktail Alternatives:
Seltzers are fine, but jazz it up a bit with the following products and recipes. These alternatives help and are fun to try. So much of drinking for me is the social aspect, and these alternatives and making a mocktail versus a cocktail still leave me feeling that social vibe. Also, more restaurants and bars than ever have a great selection of Mocktail on their menu. Please don’t be embarrassed to ask your bartender to mix you up with their favorite Mocktail.
Give Yourself Some Grace:
Slip at day 10 or 11? This is apparently where it happens most often when the novelty wears off. No problem. You can start the #30-day challenge again or get back on the horse and finish the month. The goal of Sober January is personal for everyone. If you slip and have a drink its doesn’t mean all hope is lost, it just means you have a chance to evaluate your relationship with alcohol. If you cut back, saved money, lost weight, whatever your reasons, you have progressed towards those goals.
Hacks & Mocktail Recipes
Here are some “Makers of Minnesota” products that can help you “Hack” Dry January and make it a breeze:
Made in Minnesota, Muddle and Mint are alcohol-free mixers. Try their Hibiscus Sage or Grapefruit Rosemary mixed with your soda water, or muddle some lime and mint with their Green Tea Mint with your favorite Ginger Ale. RECIPE: Muddle & Mint Green Tea Moscow Mule Mocktail.
I love these concentrated tonics made in Minnesota without added water. Each bottle of tonic is jam-packed with flavor and herbaceous freshness. You have an instant mocktail when you add Sweethaven tonics to sparkling water or your favorite fruit juice concoction. Many flavors include apple, thyme, cardamom or grapefruit, mint and rosemary and pineapple, turmeric, and jalapeno. RECIPE: Sweet Haven Tonic Paloma Mocktail
Earl Giles is Jesse Helds cocktail syrup, ginger beer, and elixer brand made in North East Minneapolis and will eventually become an event center and cocktail room. The Cinnamon Ceylon with spice up your Hot Cider, or you can make a Hot Toddy Mocktail. RECIPE: Earl Giles Earl Grey Hot Toddy Mocktail
These Simple Syrups, also made in Minnesota, can be combined with kombucha, soda waters, or hot teas to give you a new flavor profile to work with. Their ginger, lemongrass, and lavender Kombucha mocktail is an excellent showcase for their Ginger Lemongrass syrup. RECIPE: Ginger Lemongrass and Lavender Mocktail
Mixly Cocktail Mixers:
These juice-forward Mixly cocktail mixers can easily substitute as mocktail mixers. While made in Minnesota, these babies have a tropical vibe. The combinations are fresh and easy to adapt to mocktails. Try a Pina Colada Mocktail with Mixly’s Coconut Ginger and Lime mix added to coconut water and Pineapple juice. RECIPE: Coconut Ginger Lime Colada Mocktail
Are you a beer drinker? Dry January’s NA beers have always been notoriously dismal until now. Minnesota’s own Paul Pirner and Hairless Dog co-founder recently formed the Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverage Association. Their Hairless Dog Non-Alcoholic beer was invented using a brewing process in which alcohol is never introduced verses taken out. Their IPA is a delicious non-alcoholic beer, and their Dry January Survival kit ($45) is brilliant. And includes include a choice of the three Hairless Dog zero percent alcohol by volume craft non-alcoholic beer varieties and swag. Drink them on their own, or try your hand at a Michelada Mocktail during your next game day brunch. RECIPE: Michelada Mocktail