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The ultimate guide for dry January

You’re taking the month off from booze, but that doesn’t mean you're stuck with diet cola. Let’s run through some non-lame non-alcoholic beverages.

You’re taking the month off from booze, but that doesn’t mean you're stuck with diet cola. Let’s run through some non-lame non-alcoholic beverages.

January 1: you finished singing Auld lang syne, rounded up those bottles of prosecco and took everything out to the recycling. As the glass clinks into the bin, holiday mode comes to an abrupt end. Sure, you could let that be a bummer, but don’t do that to yourself! With the right attitude, the relative lull of January gives us a chance to step back and reset our priorities.

What is “dry January”?

“Dry January” generally means taking a month off from any alcohol. You can set your own rules, of course, but that’s the baseline concept. January is a great month for it since the holidays are over and we haven’t quite arrived at the hedonism of Groundhog’s Day yet.

Why do a dry January?

There are plenty of reasons for taking a bit of a booze break, and none are invalid. Did the holidays leave you feeling like a withered husk? Dry January to the rescue. Maybe you’re just trying to cut back on calories and improve your overall health. Perhaps you realized that you haven’t tried every flavor of La Croix. It’s often fun just to challenge yourself and give yourself something to look forward to in the deep midwinter. Honestly, there’s really no pressure to justify taking a break.

How do I prepare for a dry January?

It helps to have a buddy to help keep you honest as well as a plan so you aren’t bored come Friday night. You’ll have to BYOB(uddy), but Drizly will bring the drinks. Let’s dig into some legitimately fun, innovative non-alcoholic bevvies that will make your dry January fly by!

‘Booch, not hooch: Kombucha

Kombucha is wildly popular right now, but this is no fad; it’s far too delicious to burn out. As a live, fermented tea, Kombucha is great at mimicking an alcoholic beverage without getting you tipsy. Kombucha gives you fizzy carbonation, acidity and great fermentation flavors, but uses a fancy microbiological trick to knock out the alcohol. It’s a bit of a Dry January miracle!

How is Kombucha made?

Kombucha starts out as a brewed tea with a touch of natural sugar. To ferment it, a very strange/awesome blend of yeast and friendly bacteria goes into the tea, adding gorgeous flavor and acidity. The yeast ferments the sugar, creating alcohol (uh-oh). The bacteria then swoops in and knocks out almost all of the alcohol (phew).

What does kombucha taste like?

Kombucha is brightly acidic and tart without burning your throat. It has a hint of vinegar flavor that’s actually super refreshing and mouthwatering. As a tea, you might get some black tea earthiness or green tea herbal character.

What flavors of kombucha are there?

It’s up to the kombucha brewer to decide on additional flavoring. You’ll find great kombuchas with ginger, berry and pineapple additions. Go exploring!

Does kombucha have ANY alcohol in it?

Full disclosure: yes. Traditional kombucha has a trace amount of alcohol (less than .5% ABV), but that’s similar to most non-alcoholic beers. Make sure you don’t accidentally buy hard kombucha - until next month, that is!

Buzz-less suds: Non-alcoholic beers

Big props to O’doul’s for being the OG non-alcoholic beer, but we’re happy to say that this category is experiencing a real renaissance and there’s a lot more variety nowadays. Dry January’s our chance to dig into some non-alcoholic beers that do indeed taste like beer (we're drinking Heineken 0.0 this month)!

How do they get the alcohol out of non-alcoholic beer?

The most common way to remove alcohol from fermented beer is to gently heat it up. Alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water, so this low-tech trick works quite well. Another technique employs a cold filtration system. Either way, if you do it right, you can kick out the alcohol but keep the flavor. Let’s take a look at some of our faves.

Non-alcoholic IPA

Craft brewers have recently started to hit their stride with some excellent non-alcoholic IPAs. IPA bigwigs Lagunitas have created a crisp, citrusy “NA” brew that’s only 80 calories. They certainly know their way around the hop flower. Athletic Brewing focuses solely on non-alcoholic beer, and their IPA feels almost too authentic to be non-alcoholic.

Non-alcoholic craft beers

IPA gets the most love, as usual, but there’s a lot more out there. Wellbeing makes an amber ale as well as a wheat ale. Not to be outdone, craft brewing vets Brooklyn Brewery have a nicely balanced offering. It’s hoppy and bitter but has a cozy, bready backbone. 

German Non-alcoholic beers

In Germany, non-alcoholic beers have always been part of the zeitgeist. Some great traditional breweries make world-class NA brews - including the oldest brewery of them all: Weihenstephan. We recommend their classic Hefeweizen. It’s a simple beer with extraordinary fruity/estery character.

Go ahead and finish the bottle: Non-alcoholic wine

Alcohol-removed wines are less well-known than beer, but probably not for much longer. You can make great wine using traditional techniques and remove the alcohol just like you would from beer. This means you’ll get all the acidity and flavor of fermented grapes without falling off the cart.

What kinds of non-alcoholic wines are there?

Once small, the list is growing. You can indulge in bold reds like cabernet sauvignon and merlot or pair a light meal with a buttery chardonnay. For brunch, there are plenty of bubbly options like rose and prosecco. This dry January, keep checking this burgeoning section; we think you’ll find no reason to compromise.

Week 4: Non-alcoholic Spirits

Non-alcoholic spirit” sounds like an oxymoron, and it is, but you get the idea, right? Get the essence of your favorite spirit like gin or tequila without all that ethanol.

What do non-alcoholic spirits taste like?

Since spirits are the strongest alcoholic beverage, they’re the hardest to replicate. Authenticity will vary from spirit to spirit, but remember that the only ingredient missing is alcohol. There’s still room for flavors like juniper and citrus in gin, or berries and vanilla in an aperitif. Unsurprisingly, good NA spirits will come from actual distillers like Seedlip and Dhos, who are already skilled at blending flavors and capturing the delicate aromatics that make spirits like gin so enticing.

What’s the best non-alcoholic spirit for mocktails?

Gin’s wide-ranging botanicals possibilities give it the best chance to imitate the real thing. Try subbing it in for alcoholic gin in one of our gin cocktail recipes or visit the producer’s website for additional inspiration.

The non-alcoholic world of drinks is more robust than ever, so if this is your first dry January, you picked a good year for it. You can do it, and Drizly can help. Cheers to you for starting the year off with some good old-fashioned self-care!