How to brunch, not drink, and not lose your mind
If you've been keeping up with the latest in breakfast journalism (if not, how did you get here?), you'll know that Extra Crispy is not on the Dry January (also known as Dryanuary) bandwagon. In fact, we think that it is a foolhardy experiment in self-deprivation that devalues the nobler pursuit of moderation. Dryanuary forces you into a puritanical rut when it comes to having weekend fun. Plus, it makes it much more difficult to do one of the only fun things available to you during this cold, dark, and decidedly crappy month: brunch.
The bacon-fueled bacchanalia known as weekend brunch is a veritable minefield for anyone looking to stay sober throughout January in order to purify themselves after enjoying the holidays. Staying off the sauce means dodging mimosas, bloody marys, beers, cocktails, and trying to maintain your social calendar while having to watch your friends enjoy delicious, marvelous booze. And if you don't want to explain why you're abstaining from alcohol every time you go out to brunch, you'd better come up with some convincing mocktails that will help you go undercover and dodge a stream of teasing comments right up until the clock strikes midnight on January 31.
To make it through a horrible, dreary month where not even a delicious chocolate stout can save you (still sure you want to do this?), you're going to have to get ready to be roasted during brunch. Your friends might tell you you're brave for trying to be a better person, but they don't mean it. Trust me, they told me about how stupid this effort is when you went to the bathroom. They'll admire your public display of willpower, and might even talk about that one time when they wanted to be a better person too. But ultimately, your struggle will become a source of (well-intentioned) humor. Your so-called friends will raise a glass in your honor, or ask if you want a tiny sip of their beverages. They'll revel in the subtle complexities of a spicy bloody Mary, or luxuriate in the warm embrace of an Irish coffee. They'll opine about their beverages in such detail that you'll wonder if you magically became friends with the editorial staff of Imbibe Magazine. If you roll up to brunch as a Sober Steve, make sure you're thick-skinned and ready to suffer a few jabs at your good intentions.
If you somehow manage to sneak in your brunch order without being noticed by your non-Dryanuary friends, you'll have to work hard to keep your cover. Your best bet is to stick with drinks that look like cocktails, but aren't. By sticking to brunch mocktails you can stay under the radar without giving in to temptation. The easiest one to order is a seltzer and orange juice combo (which, trust me on this one, is actually delicious). This drink is a surefire way to look like you're enjoying a mimosa when, in reality, you're just sipping on watered-down, fizzy OJ. Another can't-miss non-alcoholic brunch beverage is the virgin Mary, which is just a regular bloody Mary sans alcohol. If your waitstaff is cool, they won't bat an eyelash when you order either one of these. But it can't hurt to slip them a fiver before brunch begins if you really want to avoid being ribbed by your pals.
And if you truly want to avoid any and all Dryanuary ribbing at the brunch table, you could always come up with a story so huge that it dwarfs any and all attention that your soberness might get. You could tell them that you're becoming an astronaut, and therefore can't drink. Just make sure that you don't have a Champagne-induced freakout like Barney Gumble did on The Simpsons and blow your cover:
Alternatively, you could tell your brunch crew that you've recently signed up to become a sailor. After the captain at the helm during the Exxon Valdez crash in 1989 was found to be intoxicated at the time of the spill, merchant marines have been prohibited from drinking while on board their ships. This tall tale might be a stretch, as mariners are allowed to drink on dry land, but considering how few people know anything about shipping, no one is likely to ask any questions. Aside from wondering when you ship out and when you decided to become a seafarer, that is.