Let’s not kid ourselves: For most of us, the holidays — we’re talking starting just before Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve — are a time of indulgence. We eat a little more, we try new things (even the mystery casserole that a well-meaning relative brought to supper), we have dessert. Make that plural … so many desserts! And, many of us have an extra adult libation. Or two.
Release the guilt! Dry January is nigh!
Let’s give credit where it’s due to the nonprofit Alcohol Change UK, based in the United Kingdom, which sponsored the first official Dry January in 2013. They note that 4,300 people pledged to abstain from alcohol for a month that year; by 2017, with the addition of other abstainers in other countries, more than 5 million people took the pledge.
Why go Dry?
You don’t have to officially declare it or sign any pledges! Conventional wisdom, however, says that you should feel markedly better after a month off the sauce. According to articles in both Women’s Health and Men’s Health magazines, abstaining from alcohol for a month may have transformative health benefits:
- Better sleep
- More energy
- Clearer skin
- Weight loss
- Immune system boost
- Fewer headaches
- Less anxiety.
How to Get Started
We love these tips from a Harvard Medical School blog, which we’ve embellished upon, Delco-style:
- Find a substitute non-alcoholic drink. As luck would have it, we list several here from some of our favorite local mixologists!
- Avoid temptations. If you can’t resist, then don’t go out, or hit BYOBs. Remember that takeout is still a great option for enjoying your favorite meals in the comfort of your alcohol-free home.
- Create a support group. Let your friends and family know — or, not! At the very least, have an accountability partner.
- Use the Try Dry app. It’s available from the Apple and Google stores.
- Don’t give up. Can’t go cold-turkey? Men’s Health notes that if you’re a three to four drinks a day man or woman, then weaning off gradually makes sense to avoid withdrawal symptoms; wean off gradually. They point to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which highlights some ways to cut back.
What to Drink
Take a breather: We can confirm that you’ll find plenty of bartenders all over our libation-loving county who can, and will, make you an alcohol-free drink. Some menus already boast them, but you can ask for the “virgin” variety and will be pleased. Note that bars and restaurants with more extensive beer lists often include next-level “near beer” selections.
Some of our favorite locals shared drool-worthy, non-alcoholic cocktails. They’re easy to make at home, but if you’re looking for an even quicker way to get your zero-alcohol on, then you’ll love the pre-made options here, too. Enjoy!
Barber de Seville
By Iva Bruni, Rosalie in Wayne’s General Manager
Bruni explains,”This cocktail features Blood Orange Aperitif from Abstinence, an award-winning premium distilled non-alcoholic company from South Africa. In fact, South Africa hosts the world’s smallest, most diverse floral kingdom, and Abstinence is focused on highlighting the flora in all of their products. This non-alcoholic Blood Orange Aperitif provides all the richness and complexity of flavor with an infusion of natural botanicals cinchona bark, blood orange and African wormwood.”
Rosalie is an Italian restaurant from Fearless Restaurants, so they wanted to create a mouth-watering and guilt-free non-alcoholic Negroni variation. The Blood Orange Aperitif’s bitter-sweet flavor fit the bill as a worthy base for added cranberry and lime juice, as well as a touch of honey for sweetness. It’s served with a charming orange peel.
Photo courtesy of Fearless Restaurants
Barber de Seville
- 1 1/2 ounces of Abstinence Blood Orange Aperitif
- 1 3/4 ounces of cranberry juice
- 1/2 ounce of lime juice
- 1/2 ounce of honey
- Orange peel, for garnish
- Add all ingredients, except for the orange peel, to a cocktail shaker.
- Shake to combine.
- Strain ingredients into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with orange peel.
Nolan prefers the terms virgin cocktail, boneless cocktail or temperance drink over mocktail, thanks to the zero-alcohol drink going well beyond club soda with a twist. She says, “I find today that many mixologists have an array of zero-alcohol beverages, and can concoct delicious tasting drinks that do not taste like a children’s juice box.”
Nolan likes the science of “do as you oughta, add acid to water.” As luck would have it, that’s the making of a shrub! Flavorful, colorful and good for you, Nolan’s shrub is made with a good-quality vinegar, sparkling water and a fun garnish: Think rosemary as a swizzle stick for added flavor. She sometimes enjoys adding some muddled fruit for color and taste.
Photos courtesy of Char Nolan
Make a Shrub Your Way
- 8 ounces of sparkling water
- 1 tablespoon of a good-quality, flavored vinegar*
- 2 tablespoons of muddled fruit, such as blueberries or strawberries (optional)
- Ice cubes
- Garnish of your choice, such as mint and blueberries, basil and strawberries or rosemary
- Fill a glass with the sparking water.
- Add vinegar and stir.
- If using fruit, muddle it first in the glass and then proceed with the above steps.
- Top off with ice and garnish.
Tip: To muddle fruit, place it in the bottom of the glass. Using muddler or the bottom of a wooden spoon, press down and twist to crush the fruit and extract the juices.
*Look for flavored vinegars in the natural foods section of most grocery stores.
Nolan says, “Three cheers! Only you know what’s in your cup.”
Winter Mule Mocktail
Irene Moretti, Bar Chef & Sommelier at Tavola Restaurant + Bar:
This mocktail next-levels the traditional mule’s flavors, with wintery favorites, pear and cranberry. As not only a sommelier, but also a bar chef, Moretti brings kitchen techniques to mixology, and this zero-alcohol treat shows off how she creates different flavor profiles for cocktails that are unique. “A good mocktail stands on its own and is satisfying, but also pairs well with seasonal fare,” she added.
Winter Mule Mocktail
- 1/2 ounce of pear puree
- Splash of cranberry juice
- Squeeze of fresh lime juice
- 12 ounces of ginger beer or club soda
- Orange slice, lime wedge or fresh sprig of rosemary, for garnish
- Add pear puree, splash of cranberry juice, and fresh lime juice to a 12-ounce glass.
- Add ice and top with ginger beer (or club soda).
- Garnish with an orange slice, lime wedge or fresh sprig of rosemary. Enjoy!
Cranberry Nectar Fizz
By Mixologists at Terrain Cafe in Glen Mills
The promise? “Your favorite mocktail!”
Terrain Cafe is BYOB, so it specializes in creative non-alcoholic drinks. Its menu always includes booze-free seasonal Garden Sips such as the Cranberry Nectar Fizz. It features homemade cranberry nectar stirred up with ginger syrup, apple and lime juices, and club soda. It’s the ideal fresh beverage for the winter, highlighting cranberry, ginger and apple. Tart, with a hint of sweetness … you won’t want spring to come!
Photo courtesy of Terrain Cafe
Cranberry Nectar Fizz
- 1 ounce of cranberry nectar*
- 1/2 ounce of ginger syrup
- 2 ounces of apple juice
- 1/4 ounce of lime juice
- Splash of club soda
- Mint, for garnish
- Sugar-rolled cranberry, for garnish
- Add all ingredients, except club soda, to a cocktail shaker.
- Stir to combine.
- Pour ingredients into a mason jar, or similarly sized glass. Top off with club soda.
- Skewer the mint and cranberry to garnish.
*It won’t be exactly the same as Terrain’s homemade nectar, but you can find a version in the natural food section of most grocery stores.
Pressed for time? Pick up alcohol-free mocktails made with organic ingredients including real fruit juice, carbonated water, natural flavors and essences, plus a tiny bit of added sugar.
These flavor-packed drinks are the brainchild of founder Laura Taylor, who developed them as something to enjoy at celebrations after she stopped drinking alcohol. If these don’t make you a convert, then we don’t know what will: Cranberry Cosmo, Key Lime Margherita, Blackberry Hibiscus Bellini, Cucumber Melon Mojito, Blood Orange Elderflower Mimosa and Moscow Mule. Can’t decide? Try a variety pack.
Find Mingle Mocktails online or at a store near you. Here are a few of Taylor’s favorite mocktail recipes, as well.
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Want to know more about everything Delco? We’re more than just your source for good eats — we’re your source for where to stay, what to do and more in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We’re Visit Delco, PA, and we’ve got you covered from Philly to the Brandywine. Contact us at (610) 565-3679, by email, or online.
— Nina Malone
Featured photo courtesy of Tavola Restaurant + Bar