Sippin’ that (nonalcoholic cran and seltzer)

The worst part of dry January is having to use the word “mocktails.”

This is my favorite dry January joke. This is my third such year of forgoing booze in the first month of the new year, and I use this joke every time. I am clearly somewhat less interesting without alcohol. Like party games or brunch or furniture shopping.

A funny thing happens when you tell people that you’re giving up alcohol for a month. Most commonly, it triggers some sort of guilt or resolve in people. “Oh I may try that, too, but I have this party next week…” Or some other “Yes, except no I’d actually rather not.” Let me be clear: I am not the friend who needs everyone else to try the diet or sign up for the half marathon. I’m not asking you to join in. I am literally only mentioning this so you know why I’m turning down that beer or not texting to meet for a glass of wine or why my skin will look like it was kissed by Tinkerbell by Jan. 31.

But my favorite question so far has been, “Why not give it up entirely? Why just a month?” Because drinks are delicious and I’m 30 without children so I prefer the path of least resistance when it comes to making plans. I’m simply: A. Taking a break to delude myself for a month that I’ll tackle that project/workout with vigor/clean the hall closet/try to sell the bag of clothes behind my dresser and B. Giving my sweet liver a break after the Jay Gatsby party that is December.

I double-checked the validity of the second point on a BioMed Central post that very un-medically featured a photo of shit-faced Kermit the Frog. (I then Googled “worst thing that has ever happened to kermit the frog” and a photo came up of Kermit being strangled by Ozzy Osbourne, cited as a stock photo FROM QUEEN ELIZABETH’S JUBILEE.) According to the post, “Abstaining from alcohol for four weeks also lowers blood pressure and blood sugar, improves sleep and concentration and helps you lose weight.” Solid.

I also learned that research by New Scientist a few years ago found “that among those in the study who gave up drinking, liver fat, a precursor to liver damage, fell by at least 15 percent. For some, it fell almost 20 percent.” Blood glucose levels in the group also fell 16 percent. A liver specialist interviewed by NPR, though, said it’s better to cut back overall.

Scientific benefits aside, I honestly do just like to see if I have the willpower. Going out for drinks is one of my favorite ways to socialize, and I REALLY LOVE to socialize. The other thing I love about dry January? The advice articles.

Oh the sweet, sweet advice.

A friend of mine texted a sample from one such list:

“Saying you’re trying to get pregnant helps stop people from asking why you’re not drinking.”

Hold up, my girl. Your problem is not having a bad reason to be sober. Your problem is having friends who are so god-awful that you would be ridiculed for anything short of “I’d rather not chance fetal alcohol syndrome on the baby I’m trying to have.”

I had to go through the rest of the list, of course. Some of the highlights:

“Drink fake beer.”

Ew? Nonalcoholic beer is not good-tasting beer. If you must fake a drink, fake a cocktail, not a beer. Unless you’re going with root beer. And in that case, go for broke and float a big ol’ scoop of Breyers vanilla in there. Party on.

“I live in New England and I hate avoiding cozy drinks on snow days! That was the hardest part.”

“What do you mean hot cocoa is traditionally nonalcoholic?”

“You save money. I would sometimes get water or order a soda, and learned that if bartenders are busy enough they won’t even bother charging your [sic] for a soda.”


“Being around drunk people when you’re not can sometimes be exhausting.”

To be fair, being around people in general can be exhausting. Being the sober person around drunk people can have its merits, though. I listened to my husband defend both sides of an argument with himself last night like a one-man production of Frost/Nixon.

“Prioritize your ideal life, and see where drinking fits in.”

My ideal life involves having boundless financial resources from my bestsellers to afford cheese and champagne. Drinking fits like a puzzle piece, friend-o.

“I treated myself to donuts. Frequently.”

This is actually a decent tip. But, sadly, it negates a bunch of the more science-y stuff.

“Order a typical seltzer and cran, and just keep reminding yourself how great you will feel in the morning.”

Cranberry juice is featured prominently in a lot of dry January tips. Cranberry juice in a wine glass! Cran and seltzer with a lime! This has Big Cranberry’s fingerprints all over it.

“Don’t attempt Dry January at the same time as trying to start off on all your other New Year’s resolutions.”

Nice one, guy trying to make Lent a “thing.”

“Sharing your Dry January story is actually a great conversation starter.”

Other unprompted conversations people love: Let me tell you about my new diet! Did you hear about my new budget? I can’t believe you haven’t opened an IRA!

I don’t have any tips myself to offer. I don’t care if you go dry for a month or not. I just know that it’s a good practice for me to follow the booziest month of my year. I also know that it’s not something I care to keep up for the rest of the year. I had dinner at a friend’s the other night and was still energized enough once I got home to do a late workout.

No one wants to hang out with the person who not only does that, and then blogs about it.

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