If you’re feeling a bit pickled after a month of holiday celebration — or just prefer to keep your drinking to a minimum, regardless of season — take heart: It’s an especially good time to be a teetotaler. Across the country this year, restaurants are beginning to respond to the vogue for “dry January” or “Drynuary,” the practice of starting the year off free of alcohol. (Its adherents swear by the practice’s benefits: a reset for weary livers, incidental weight loss, better sleep and, perhaps, the feelings of accomplishment and reassurance that attend proving to oneself that taking a month off drinking is possible in the first place.)
Thankfully, with increased demand come better offerings. Gone are syrupy Shirley Temple variants and lazy, tequila-free margaritas; mixologists are instead giving alcohol-less options the same care and attention they do to their standard cocktails. That directive has been facilitated by the stateside arrival last year of Seedlip, a nonalcoholic spirit distilled like liquor in either spiced or botanical variants, which originally debuted in London in 2015.
Here, bartenders and beverage directors across America — many of whom are introducing full drink menus at their restaurants this month — share alcohol-free cocktail recipes for those observing dry January. (Those who don’t drink all year round are, of course, equally welcome to enjoy them.) A word to the wise: avoid the word “mocktail.” Try calling them “zero-proof” instead.
Oyster Bah, Chicago
“The struggle of taking menu ‘real estate’ up with a zero-proof area is a gamble,” concedes Christina Smith, the beverage director of Oyster Bah, a rustic New England-style seafood shack in Lincoln Park. “However, we are in the business of hospitality, and being able to accommodate a guest’s request when they point to one of our cocktails and say, ‘Can you make that with no alcohol?’ — and being able to deliver something that may be even better without hesitation — is something special.” The restaurant’s Pineapple Ginger Mojito will join several other nonalcoholic cocktail offerings on the menu this month.
Pineapple Ginger Mojito
∙ 2 ounces pineapple syrup
∙ 1 ounce fresh lime juice
∙ ½ ounce fresh pineapple juice
∙ ¾ ounce spiced ginger syrup
∙ 3 pieces pineapple chunks
∙ 1 tablespoon mint leaves
∙ 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Method: Served in a Collins glass. Combine all ingredients, shake, strain, pour and top with extra ice and a splash of soda.