What exactly is Dry January? It started as a public health initiative in the UK a decade ago, encouraging people to abstain from beer, wine and spirits for the first month of the year. Millions of people around the world have since embraced Dry January as a time to reflect on their drinking habits or to give their bodies a break following holiday indulgence.
Abstaining from alcohol doesn’t have to mean a month of only soft drinks and sparkling water, thanks to a variety of non-alcoholic options available, from zero-proof beers and wines to canned mocktails. The key to getting through Dry January is finding a non-alcoholic drink that you enjoy. If the ritual of mixing a cocktail is as much part of the experience as drinking it, creative and delicious mocktails are a great option.
Need some inspiration? We spoke to three of Canada’s top beverage experts who shared their favourite non-alcoholic beverages, and why they are perfect for Dry January.
Ren Navarro suggests non-alcoholic wine
With nearly a decade of experience in the alcohol industry, Ren Navarro is a craft beer consultant for bars and restaurants in Ontario as well as an educator for businesses across Canada. In 2018, she launched Beer. Diversity., a company that addresses the lack of diversity within the Canadian beer industry and offers resources that provide ways for this community to work toward being more inclusive.
“Though I’m known for beer, my first (and longest) love is wine,” Ren shared.” And for non-alcoholic wine, I’m currently obsessed with Oddbird Sparkling Rose. I’ve been ordering it from Toronto-based Clearsips, a family-run agency that deals in non-alcoholic beverages.”
Why does Ren think this is the perfect drink for Dry January? “It’s a mix of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with just the right level of effervescence. It lets you feel fancy even when you’re just chilling at home in your sweatpants!” She added, “It goes with any meal or snack, and it’s close enough to the real thing to satisfy the craving for alcohol.”
Evelyn Chick recommends a citrus mocktail
Evelyn Chick is an acclaimed specialist in the world of wine, spirits and the anatomy of all things bar and beverage. The proprietor of beverage design and consultancy firm, Evelyn Chick Projects Inc, as well as the event space, Ahma, she has led the charge on creative, zero-proof drinks, helping de-stigmatize the idea around non-alcoholic options to promote drinks inclusivity.
Evelyn loves the simplicity of a three-to-four-ingredient cocktail or mocktail. Her favourite, Feathered Dreams, is available canned at her Toronto cocktail and snack bar, Simpl Things, and you can also find the recipe in her book For the Love of Cocktails!, coming fall 2023. “This cocktail is herbal and citrus forward, combining Seedlip Grove’s orange, ginger and lemongrass notes with a touch of salinity,” Evelyn told us. “It’s the perfect, simple combination of interesting flavours that make Dry January so much fun and not dry in flavour at all! It’s easy to whip up at home and keep the chamomile and Meyer lemon cordial for a nice addition to soda as well for some more zero-proof and mindful drinking.”
Kate Boushel has something for the Negroni lovers
Kate Boushel is a bartender and Director of Beverage & Education for the Barroco Group in Montreal. For over a decade, her passion for local flavours, spirits and cocktails — and for the art of hospitality itself — has guided her through the industry, receiving accolades both within Canada and around the world. Kate strives to lead by example while helping build a stronger, healthier community and giving back along the way.
If you want a mocktail with an Italian flair, add Kate’s suggestion, the Fa L’Americano, to your repertoire. “I love playing on the Americano with non-alcoholic spirits, such as Lyre’s Rossi Aperitif and Martini Floreale and Martini Vibrante, and then top with your favourite artisanal soda or club soda,” Kate explained. Why is this non-alcoholic beverage, also available on the menu at Atwater Cocktail Club, ideal for Dry January? “It’s refreshing, thirst-quenching and for people who love a Negroni, it really brings forward all those bitter and herbal notes that you would normally seek in a traditional cocktail,” said Kate.
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