Dry January: Sweet, tangy mocktails to get you through the rest of the month

Jennie Geisler, Erie Times-News
·5 min read

"Dry January" has nothing to do with the weather.

It's a challenge more people every year seem to set for themselves, after the excesses of the holidays, to skip alcohol for the 31 days of January.

Though some declared Dry January was "canceled" six days into the month when a mob stormed the Capitol, others are sticking with the tradition.

"It's definitely a thing," said Shawn McCall, 32, general manager at Room 33 Speakeasy in Erie. He said he observes it with friends.

"We also find ourselves eating healthier, too," he said. "It's just a good way to start the new year. It's like a reset for your body."

McCall also does something a little less well-known, which he calls "sober October," before the holidays get underway and his friends and family come home and crank up the festivities.

Of course, it's easy to forget that you're missing anything while nursing a well-made "mocktail," or cocktail without the alcohol.

Bartenders shared some of their best mocktails that can make any teetotaler enjoy a relaxing but healthier evening. We've rounded up the best alcohol-free drinks to get you through the remaining days of January. Cheers!

A Bee's Knees mocktail is an option for those trying to practice Dry January at Room 33 Speakeasy in Erie.
A Bee's Knees mocktail is an option for those trying to practice Dry January at Room 33 Speakeasy in Erie.

The Bee's Knees

1½ ounces honey syrup (a mixture of honey and water)

1 ounce lemon juice

A few muddled juniper berries

Shake in a cocktail shaker and strain into a sugar-rimmed glass. Top off with water and garnish with a lemon twist.

Room 33 Speakeasy, Erie

The Virgin Grapefruit Mojito, poured in a Mason jar, is satisfying Dry January thirsts at Harold's Inn in Hopewell Township, Beaver County, not far from Pittsburgh International Airport.
The Virgin Grapefruit Mojito, poured in a Mason jar, is satisfying Dry January thirsts at Harold's Inn in Hopewell Township, Beaver County, not far from Pittsburgh International Airport.

Virgin Grapefruit Mojito

"Inspired by our guests' love for our fresh mint Mojitos, this nonalcoholic drink is the perfect solution to those New Year's resolutions to get back to healthy in January," Harold's Inn owner Susan Hineman said.

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Sweetener packet of your choice

6 mint leaves

4 ounces grapefruit juice

Splash of soda

2 lime wedges

Muddle together sweetener, lime juice and four mint leaves in the bottom of a shaker glass, add grapefruit juice and a few ice cubes, shake. Pour over more ice, add a splash of soda, garnish with lime wedges and more fresh mint.

Harold's Inn, Hopewell Township, Beaver County.

Apple Toddy

“This drink is artisanal, yet approachable and downtown hip. It’s also seasonally sassy,” said mixologist Eric Noone, co-owner of The Frogtown Chophouse.

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup of water

1 cinnamon stick

5 cloves

2 star anise

2 tablespoons apple cider

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 ounce of simple syrup to taste

Bring everything to a boil for about 5 minutes and let cool. Garnish with cayenne pepper or cinnamon sugar and an apple slice.

The Frogtown Chophouse, Swiftwater, Monroe County

Bartenders use an upside down cocktail glass to smoke the rosemary for the Earth, Fruit & Fire mocktail at Jacksons Restaurant + Bar near the Beaver Valley Mall.
Bartenders use an upside down cocktail glass to smoke the rosemary for the Earth, Fruit & Fire mocktail at Jacksons Restaurant + Bar near the Beaver Valley Mall.
The Earth, Fruit & Fire mocktail will warm you at Jacksons Restaurant + Bar near the Beaver Valley Mall.
The Earth, Fruit & Fire mocktail will warm you at Jacksons Restaurant + Bar near the Beaver Valley Mall.

Earth, Fruit & Fire

"With a new year upon us, now is always a good time to try something new; shall we say, test the waters," Melanie Ice, Jacksons Restaurant + Bar manager, said. "The smell of rosemary and ginger make me think of winter and January. Mix it in with fruits that make you think of warmer days ahead. The smoke is to keep a warmth in your body, even without alcohol. It is a well-rounded temperance drink that can be a new love for many who are curious to try it."

3 ounces pear nectar

1 ounce apple cider

1½ ounce homemade ginger simple

½ ounce lime juice

Smoked rosemary sprig

Carefully torch a sprig of rosemary and turn the glass upside down to capture the smoke. Leave to side while building a cocktail.

Mix all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Turn the glass over to release some of the smoke. Pour contents of shaker into a glass immediately. Smoke another sprig of rosemary and then stir the mocktail with the smoking sprig. Use for garnish.

Jacksons Restaurant + Bar, Center Township, Beaver County

Papa Don't Peach is a chilled chai tea with peach and thyme flavorings.
Papa Don't Peach is a chilled chai tea with peach and thyme flavorings.

Papa Don’t Peach

“This mocktail captures warming flavors of winter with nutmeg and cinnamon from the chai tea. The peach and thyme add depth and acid, introducing a bright freshness to the drink. This mocktail can even be served warm or chilled," said Tobias Moser, general manager at The Wayward.

The recipe was created by in-house mixologist Kevin Ho.

6 ounces chilled chai tea

2 ounces grilled peach syrup (instructions below)

1 ounce thyme syrup (instructions below)

Sliced peach and sprig thyme, for garnish

For the grilled peach syrup:

2 ripe peaches (sliced, then grilled until caramelized)

1 cup boiling water

1 cup sugar

For the thyme syrup:

4 sprigs thyme

1 cup boiling water

1 cup sugar

Start with the thyme syrup. Mix boiling water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved (this is your simple syrup). Next, steep a handful of thyme in the syrup until the flavors mix. This can be as little as 30 minutes, but the longer you infuse, the more potent the flavor. Then the grilled peach syrup. Slice the peaches and grill them until caramelized. Combine grilled peach syrup with the simple syrup. Mix your chai with the syrups and shake. Garnish with sliced peaches and a sprig thyme and serve.

The Wayward, Philadelphia

- Hira Qureshi

A Sidecar mocktail sits at Room 33 Speakeasy at 1033 State St. in Erie. The popular bar also offers packaged mocktail components available in a kit for purchase through the end of the month.
A Sidecar mocktail sits at Room 33 Speakeasy at 1033 State St. in Erie. The popular bar also offers packaged mocktail components available in a kit for purchase through the end of the month.

Sidecar

3 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice

½ ounce fresh lemon juice

6 shakes orange bitters

½ ounce simple syrup

Place ice and ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain into a glass with a sugared rim. Garnish with an orange slice.

Room 33 Speakeasy, Erie

Not for everyone

We asked Facebook followers if they were participating in Dry January, and WQLN-TV and radio President and CEO Tom New floated the same question by his co-workers. Here are some of their responses:

  • The “wetter” the January, the better the January – tried and tested!!!

  • I want to join this club about as much as your stupid book club.

  • What is this nonsense do you speak of?!

  • I assumed it was just drinking dry martinis. Shaken not stirred of course.

  • Definitely not! But I am limiting refined sugar ... so most of my sugar is coming from Tempranillo.

  • Sorry, I get all my January vitamins from pinot noir.

Others said Dry January just wasn't in the cards for them either.

"Nope!! Not me!! I have been having 'virtual' wine time with my 89-year-old mother via WhatsApp, since COVID-19 hit," said Laurie Hofmann, 62, of Erie. "She looks forward to it every day, so I can't skip January!"

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Dry January mocktails to try when abstaining from alcohol