Your intentions to do Dry January started off well; you were fully prepared to stop drinking at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Then you vaguely remember someone suggesting tequila shots, and the rest is a blur. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go sober for the rest of the month.
Steering clear of the booze for a month won’t just save you much-needed money after Christmas, it will also benefit your health, leaving your skin feeling clearer, helping you sleep better, and maybe even lose a little weight. Plus, of course, you’ll be doing your liver a world of good. If you choose to do a sponsored ‘dryathlon’, you can even raise some money for a good cause at the same time. Now, look us in the eye and tell us that doesn’t sound more appealing than a tequila – sorry, we didn’t mean to make you shudder.
Now, doing Dry January doesn’t mean you have to stay at home drinking endless mugs of tea or stick to dull tonic water when you do venture out or have guests over (a much warmer and cheaper option for January!). Remember, it shouldn’t be the alcohol that makes a night out fun, but the company! If this isn’t the case, you probably need new friends more than a tequila – harsh maybe, but true. Tequila is not your friend.
So, instead of feeling like a child with your orange squash at your next social gathering, turn yourself into a mixologist and have a go at making some mocktails. The recipes below taste so good we reckon your mates wouldn’t even notice the lack of booze if you served them up to them without letting on – try it, if you’re brave enough.
Non-alcoholic Moscow mule
The Moscow mule is a popular winter cocktail, thanks to the tangy warming kick provided by the addition of ginger beer to lime and vodka. Most bars serve these up in copper mugs, as is believed to be most authentic, but the drink tastes just the same out of a standard martini glass/tumbler/mug/sock (probably).
So, how do you make a Moscow mule mocktail? Well, you could just leave out the vodka. But that’d just be limey ginger beer, and that’s not like a proper cocktail at all. Instead, follow this recipe from Sweet C’s, which shows you how to make a grown-up non-alcoholic version of this bev that’s a few steps up from just ginger beer plus lime.
The taste of whisky with none of the booze
In the world of mocktail-making (yes, there is a whole universe of it out there – welcome), it’s fairly easy to replace vodka or gin in a drink, as they’re pretty subtle flavours. But with whisky it’s a whole different story. Whisky has a strong, powerful taste, but it can be replicated with some careful chemistry.
Luckily, Optional Kitchen has done the science before you and has ingeniously combined soy sauce (yep, the stuff you put on your stir-fries) with maple syrup and pomegranate molasses (basically syrup) to create a taste that’s surprisingly close to whisky. Who would have thought it?!
A classic whisky sour cocktail also features tonic water, a squeeze of lemon juice and a touch of egg white, so add that to your soy sauce/sweet syrup/pomegranate concoction and you’ll feel pretty clever – even more so the next morning when you wake up feeling fresh for a change.
Mojitos are one of the more summery cocktails, with the most traditional flavour combination being mint and lime, combined with rum, soda water and crushed ice. In the winter though, a few more creative options begin to crop up on bar menus, such as the winter-spiced mojito.
You can easily make a copycat version yourself at home – a nojito, if you will. Firstly, follow Sober Julie’s recipe for a non-alcoholic mojito, but we propose adding a few sprinkles of dried mixed spice. Or you could add a cinnamon stick, a dash of nutmeg and a handful of cranberries to create a warming, wintery taste reminiscent of Christmas. Be honest, you miss it already.
Alcohol-free espresso caipirinha
Espresso martinis seem to be one of the hot cocktails of the moment right now, but we hadn’t heard of espresso caipirinhas until we came across this recipe from Mr and Mrs Romance for a booze-free version.
It’s fruity, fresh, sharp and tastes like super-strong coffee all at once. Because there’s no alcohol in it, you could technically even drink this first thing in the morning to wake you up for the day. See, Dry January’s great! Mocktails for breakfast! You can’t (socially acceptably) do that with tequila, can you?!
Hot buttered rum, without the rum
We can’t think of many things more decadent than a sweet, hot, buttered, rum-based drink to warm you through in winter. In fact, that might be one step too decadent, so we’re going to follow Boulder Locavore’s suggestion for the mocktail version of this recipe for slow-cooked hot buttered rum.
It’s a gorgeous alternative to your evening hot chocolate, and as you can make a huge batch in your slow cooker, you could convince yourself that drinking a vat of it is fine – it’s alcohol-free, after all! Note: We don’t actually recommend this. You will feel sick.
See, we told you that mocktails weren’t just about fruit juice and lemonade. They can be grown-up, they can be classy and they can be so good you might even be convinced to drink less booze once Dry January is over, swapping your mojito for a ‘nojito’ instead. Remember; tequila is not your friend.