Mary Kate Skehan

The best mocktails for Dry January

Alcohol-free cocktails to make at home

  • From Spectator Life

It’s the new year, and that means time for resolutions. Many of us will pursue food-and-drink-related goals: eating healthier, eating out less, or trying a ‘Dry January’ – giving up alcohol for the month.

Non-drinkers have more interesting options these days than coffee or Diet Coke. Commercially bottled kombuchas are a plausible substitute for something stronger. Non-alcoholic beers, wines and cocktails are also multiplying, judging from the crush of Instagram ads I receive.

As someone in a semi-permanent state of trying to drink just a bit less, I’m always interested in tactics to facilitate sobriety. This year, I tried out mocktail recipes that might help a Dry January feel livelier.

One benefit of the homemade mocktail is the Ikea effect: you’re more likely to appreciate a drink when you’ve had to work on putting it together yourself

The internet’s recommended mocktails tend to follow a basic pattern: make a simple syrup infused with seasonal herbs and spices and combine with citrus and sparkling water. A particularly pleasant example: The Kitchen’s Winter Spice Lemonade, made from a syrup of cinnamon, ginger and star anise, mixed with the juice of a lemon and topped with fizzy water. Bon Appetit’s Chai Blossom eliminates the need to infuse a syrup by starting with hot chai – I used decaf – and dissolving an outrageous amount of sugar into it. The addition of lime juice plus sparkling water makes a festive, spicy drink.

These concoctions are tasty, but they’re very sweet. If you drink dry wine or bitter IPAs, they may not hit the spot. The savoury alternatives typically involve ginger and/or turmeric, and are more bracing. Take Alison Roman’s Turmeric Tonic, a ginger-turmeric-lemon juice concentrate that combines with sparkling water for an altogether earthier effect. Variations on a Ginger Switchel also abound. If you don’t have a juicer, purée fresh ginger root with apple cider vinegar and strain through cheesecloth; you won’t confuse the resulting drink with punch from the kid’s table.

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