The holiday season is lonely for us sober folk. I don’t go to the merry parties where alcohol flows freely, the gatherings of old friends at bars and craft breweries, or any sort of New Year’s celebration. I’m shut out of the glamorous, adult-oriented events that demand I purchase tickets for an open bar that can offer me nothing but club soda, orange juice on the rocks, or little bitty cans of Diet Coke. I’m used to sitting home on Saturday nights, but at the holidays, when every person you know is ending their year on a high note together, it’s hard drinking unspiked eggnog on the couch knowing the merriment of the season is passing you by.
But now, Dry January is officially A Thing. Bars and restaurants are beginning to realize that people like me exist, and that we deserve better than tap water or Shirley Temples. My inbox has filled up with press releases and promotions full of buzzy terms like “spirit-free” and “mocktail.” I’ve been reading through them all, smiling approvingly, excited by the prospect of one day going out to a nice restaurant or other adult playplace without being reminded of how my sobriety makes me different. For 31 days and nights, I at last have the chance to socialize. During January, I’m no longer a shameful alcoholic, but a person who is trend-focused and concerned with her personal wellness!
Of all the press releases I’d received about Dry January, the most exciting to me was one from Hilton hotels. While I have no shortage of enthusiasm for all the independent bars and restaurants developing thoughtful mocktail menus, a massive international hotel chain cultivating a sober-friendly movement would be a complete game changer. The menu, created by Elliott Clark (aka The Apartment Bartender), is far more than saccharine-sweet fruit juices mixed with club soda. There’s bitter cocktails like a Paloma made with Seedlip and a tiki drink with bite from an aggressive ginger beer; maybe they’ll even find a non-alcoholic bourbon to use in their post-dessert coffee-flavored cocktail eventually.
Alas, it’s positioned as a menu specifically for Dry January, and it’s only available in 12 Hilton locations nationwide. But on the plus side, when I registered my disappointment with Hilton—not only because of the limited availability, but because sobriety should not be a one-month marketing gimmick—I was told that zero-proof cocktails are slowly making their way onto all Hilton bar menus, and that in the meantime, bartenders are making off-menu mocktails for guests who request them. Perhaps more hotel chains will follow suit. Perhaps Dry January will stop being a trend that forces people like me back into the shadows come Groundhog Day.
Courtesy of Elliott Clark
- 2 oz. Seedlip Spice 94
- 1 oz. grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz. lime juice
- 1/2 oz. brown sugar simple syrup
- 1-2 oz. soda water
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake with ice.
Strain the drink into coupe or salt-rimmed highball glass and garnish with a grapefruit twist.