I’ve just finished week one of Dry January, and so far so good. Not to brag or anything, but I’m super hydrated, don’t seem to have sugar cravings and feel like freaking Cinderella singing to the birds in the mornings. OK, some of this might be just because I came off a restful vacation and my son just got a karaoke machine for Christmas, but at worst, it’s something to talk about at work and at best, according to this article in Quartzy by Katherine Ellen Foley, “Going sober can help improve sleep, and it saves both empty calories and money.” Plus, taking a break (even a short one) from a known carcinogen is bound to be good for your liver.
The “sober curious” have been gaining traction lately, led partly by author Ruby Warrington (Material Girl, Mystical World), the guru behind the website, The Numinous. Her interest in a high-vibe lifestyle led her to produce events around NYC that she called Club Söda, for people curious about a sober lifestyle. These ranged from a Kundalini disco, a boozeless brunch dance party and panel discussions about psychedelics and sobriety. “If you’re thinking about cutting out booze for a while, it’s important to focus less on what you may feel you’re ‘denying’ yourself or missing out on,’ she says, “and instead concentrate on your reasons for doing it, as well as all the positive things you hope to cultivate as a result of your sobriety.” In time for Dryanuary, Warrington released her new book, aptly titled Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us On The Other Side of Alcohol. In it, Warrington asks us to think about what our lives would be like if we stopped drinking “on autopilot.” I spoke with her about the benefits of doing a Dry January, and she gave some words of wisdom. “Some of the first things you will probably notice are greater clarity, more energy, and better sleep,” she says. “As time goes by, you may also find you have a more optimistic outlook and feel calmer and more confident in general. So much so that you decide to keep going!”
One would be forgiven for thinking a Sober January also includes evenings watering plants or tucking in early with a Netflix. Or, worse, out with friends, ordering up a glass of seltzer with a squeeze of lemon. Health-conscious consumers don’t want to be left with the choices of artificial juice, soda or water. Luckily, bars in Brooklyn and throughout NYC are rising to the challenge. It turns out non-drinkers also have discerning tastes and are no longer settling for unbalanced, alcohol-free cocktails. According to Zsolt George Csonka, the founder of Adriaen Block, “Having a delicious mocktail is a must in today’s bar industry. [It’s necessary to have] options for drivers, pregnant [women], or others who are just not consuming any alcohol.” For those willing to give Dry January a try, there’s an incredible line-up of non-alcoholic beverages to consume that are so delicious and perfectly balanced that you’ll forget they don’t contain booze….at least for a month.
Adriaen Block, Astoria
Billed as the first CBD restaurant and bar in NYC, you know there is a little something extra besides the alcohol. In their full list of alcohol-free cocktails, most are made with the wonder drug, CBD. Their menu states, “CBD will not get you high, but you may experience a calming sensation.” With choices like Garden & Tonic, Blackberry-Basil Sour, and Kombucha Garden, there are mouth-watering options to whet the palette. Zsolt George Csonka says that about 30% of the cocktails sold are non-alcoholic. Plus, they have special events like the weekend CBD High Tea. “Just simply having an opportunity to either order a high tea or a non-alcoholic cocktails boost our revenue dramatically,” says Csonka, “and make us more welcoming.” Adriaen Block, 19-33 Ditmas Blvd., Astoria
Butter & Scotch, Crown Heights
This little gem of a bakery and bar will simultaneously fulfill a sweet tooth and satiate thirst. If you’re not drinking the hard stuff, you can be the envy of all your friends when you order a decadent milkshake. Each shake is made with Blue Marble ice cream, and even includes Vegan Coconut as an option. The only headache you’ll get is from the cold freeze, but you’ll feel right as rain in the morning. Butter & Scotch, 818 Franklin Ave., Crown Heights
The Wayfarer, Midtown
Afterwork drinks is a great way to network and manage up to that new position you have your eye on. Unfortunately, for non-drinkers, they are usually left out of that opportunity. (No one wants to go out for tea after work; sorry.) Think of The Wayfarer in Midtown as your power move. A Wild Mary (non-alcoholic Bloody Mary made with probiotic kimchi juice, recipe here) or a Spicy Peach and Cucumber “Chilcano” (with ginger beer) are on the menu. Co-owner, Eric Marx says, “We wanted to create a collection of mocktails that showcased the thought, flavors and style we put into our signature cocktails at The Wayfarer, so all our guests can indulge.” The Wayfarer, 101 W. 57th Street, Midtown
Let’s say you are at a fancy dinner that is just calling out for an expensive wine or unusual cocktail; how are you going to sit there with a glass of milk? Celestine has you covered with a non-alcoholic menu that is almost the most refreshing part of the drink menu. The Peach Lavender Kombucha and the Grapefruit Mint Kombucha are on draft and will pair nicely with whatever you are having. If you’re eating here, it’s most likely on a special occasion and this will give you something nice to give a toast with. Celestine, 1 John St., Dumbo
House of Yes, Bushwick
When you are at this “temple of expression” dancing your ass off or watching a crazy performance, the last thing you might be thinking of is alcohol. Yet, on autopilot, you might down a few sifters of Bulleit just to take the edge off. Also on the menu are Curious Elixirs, booze-free cocktails that are handmade in the Hudson Valley. You can order them yourself online to have on hand, or also find them at The Finch. The drinks use a “unique superfood and adaptogen blend” that supplies antioxidants and fights fatigue—so you can keep dancing all night long. House of Yes, 2 Wyckoff St., Bushwick
Reception Bar, LES
How about when you’re on a date, and you want alcohol to get loose? A Korean cocktail and elixir bar on the Lower East Side has a line up of sexy cocktails for teetotalers. Aphrodite’s Milk, a mixture of black sesame, rice orgeat, shimeji mushroom shrub, and egg white will boost your libido, without any regrets. Or indulge in a Skinny Shroom, with sparkling buckwheat, shimeji mushroom shrub, and quince honey, to aid in the breakdown of fats, making you feel svelte and sexy after a big meal. Reception Bar, 45 Orchard Street, LES