Cocktails & Spirits

Tips for a Successful Dry January

Mocktails are more than cranberry and soda.
Mocktails are more than cranberry and soda. Photo by R.C. Visuals/Courtesy of Ben Potts
This weekend, Miamians will join the world in ringing in a new year.

As we say goodbye to an old year, it's traditional to leave some bad habits behind and make resolutions for the new year. Resolutions can be as simple as walking more each day or switching to oat milk for your coffee, or they can be life-altering, like deciding to move to a new city or further your studies.

A popular resolution is to observe "Dry January," in which you resolve not to imbibe alcoholic beverages for one month. According to Harvard Medical School, Dry January started in 2012 as a public health initiative from Alcohol Change UK as a way for people to reset their relationship with alcohol.

Ben Potts, a partner at Beaker & Gray and the Sylvester, and cofounder of the cocktail consulting company, Unfiltered Hospitality, says that observing Dry January is easier than it's ever been, thanks to an ever-increasing market for non-alcoholic "mocktails." His two restaurants offer mocktails on their menus, and Potts recently created two zero-alcohol beverages for the newly opened Beauty & the Butcher in Coral Gables. "One is a watermelon mule that's super flavorful, and the other is a floral cucumber margarita. They're really interesting, and it looks as though you're really drinking a drink," says Potts.

Potts uses Lyre's spirits, a company that offers zero-proof spirits in flavors like agave blanco, American malt, white cane, and more. Potts says that the spirits replicate the flavor profiles of rums, whiskies, and gins. The bar professional and cocktail creator also likes Seedlip, another non-alcoholic spirits company that produces products made with various botanicals.

These fairly new zero-proof spirits allow Potts' bartenders to really get creative. "In the past, if someone wasn't drinking alcohol, the default would be a cranberry and soda. Now we can do an entire cocktail experience," he says.

And Potts says he encourages his bartenders to get creative with zero-alcohol cocktails. "I think it's a good practice for any bartender. We are not necessarily serving alcoholic drinks. We are serving delicious beverages."

Allegra Angelo, head sommelier for Vinya Hospitality, says that she's far more mindful about drinking lately. "I really think Dry January is beyond a trend. I think it's a real movement," she says. The sommelier says that, although Vinya Wine Shop does carry zero-proof spirits, Angelo prefers a cocktail with low-sugar fruit juice and a low-sugar soda or sparkling water. She likes Blake Lively's Betty Buzz mixers that are now available at Publix. "They're outstanding, and they're fun for making light spritzers," she says.

Angelo also says that it's OK to cut down on alcohol if a completely dry January isn't for you. "I'm a fan of the low-alcohol cocktail craze. I like to make a margarita with a half-and-half combo of tequila and zero-proof tequila," she says.

At the end of the day, Angelo says that whether you choose to observe Dry January — or cut a little back on your drinking, it's your own personal journey.
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss

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