Here's some tips & tastes to make the most of Dry January
As we’re into the second full week of the new year, perhaps that means you’re also ticking off the days of Dry January. Many people decide to abstain from alcohol for the month, but we should also note that many people decide not to drink for a variety of reasons year-round.
"What is most interesting is if you talk to manufacturers in the non-alcoholic spirit realm they will tell you half of their customers drink sometimes...but one of the blessings of this modern age is you can now decide to have a non-alcoholic cocktail that doesn't taste like a sweet, non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiri," says contributor Jeanette Hurt.
So, whether you’re taking a month long break or just not in the mood for an alcoholic drink, Hurt has a few tips and drink suggestions to try.
- Chill all of your ingredients: "Ice has an importance purpose in alcoholic cocktails — it balances things and it eventually melts and it mellows out the alcohol. If you're using ice in a non-alcoholic cocktail you're just going to water it down."
- Liven up your flavors: "It doesn't hurt with non-alcoholic drinks to add a tiny, tiny bit of saline solution if you want to wake it up, or a little bit of bitters." Hurt notes that most bitters do have a little bit of an alcoholic base similar to flavorings like vanilla extract, but non-alcoholic bitters are also on the market.
- Keep balance in mind & play with ingredients: "Don't be afraid to make mistakes! And if you think of certain cocktails that you like, how do you emulate them? Your taste buds should guide what you're drinking whether it's alcoholic or non-alcoholic."
Whether you're in the mood for a bitter, sweet or sour non-alcoholic drink, here are some of Hurt's suggestions:
Junipre by Boundless Beverages
Junipre is the creation of Guy Rehorst of Great Lakes Distillery who was on a quest to make a quality tasting gin without the spirits. More than a year of research and testing has resulted in the first product his new company, Boundless Beverages, that will be dedicated to non-alcoholic options.
"[Rehorst's] goal when he made it was to make a spiritless gin that could be used in martinis and would still taste good," says Hurt. "Junipre tastes really, really good just with club soda. It's got a little bit of bite, it's not sweet, and it has a lot of the same botanicals that are in Rehorst Gin...and it's very well-balanced."
Additional botanicals were also added to Junipre, including chili pepper to emulate the burn that you feel when drinking alcohol.
Gentiana by Top Note Tonic
"Gentiana is their special bartender release. It is a tonic water made with gentian root and it's basically to emulate the bitter sodas of Italy," explains Hurt. "Mary Pellettieri, who's the owner of [Top Note] who created this, she wanted something that could be an aperitivo by itself if you didn't want to drink."
"What I like about Ghia is it is actually made from a base of vinifera grape juice. It takes riesling grapes and ... then adds botanicals including gentian root which gives it a little bit of that bitter kick. It's not too sweet and it's balanced."
If you're looking for something ready-made, there's also a mixer version ready in a bottle.
Crisp & Crude is a non-alcoholic cocktail made with botanical terpenes that are extracts from hemp.
"It's CBD oil extracts, basically. The woman who started this, because she couldn't drink she would make cocktails using different kinds of terpene extracts and she said that it gave it a little bit of that extra burn or extra 'oomph,' but still it had no alcohol," says Hurt.
These non-alcoholic cocktails range from mango margarita with jalapeño to a raspberry lime ginger beer and more. "What I like about them, outside of the name, which I think is fantastic, is it's not very sweet. They're very well balanced," says Hurt. "There's still some sugar content and they have more of the traditional-type cocktail flavor in their line."
"[These] cocktails are worth trying if you're looking for something balanced and ready-made to drink out of the can or to pour into a glass."