You can still be the life of the party.
You finally get the confirmation in the group chat with your friends on the location for the post-work meetup spot. You arrive, and everyone at the bar is ordering their favorite winter cocktails and brews; and despite the goals that you made heading into the new year, you don’t have to be left out. The brave souls that embark on the journey of abstaining from alcohol for the entire month of January can still enjoy a night out with friends sans the booze—and doing so need not be a bore. Just like any other fast—be it from certain foods, a bad habit, or material possessions—once you get into a dry January and push yourself to adapt (rather than mope), you’ll likely begin to find that you can exist happily without it. Even on a Friday night.
Just because many social activities do tend to involve or revolve around alcohol, there’s no sense in skipping out on fun times with friends this month. Instead, try ordering the non-alcoholic versions of certain drinks you like or ask the bartender to shake up a special mocktail for you. And hey, on the upside, you’re sure to save a few bucks, reduce your caloric intake, and you won’t have to worry about hangovers until February.
Sparkling Water/ Tonic Water/ Soda Water
This is the simplest (not to mention, most likely free) drink to grab at the bar, and likely the one you’ll want to stick with if you’re in a crowded spot where the bartenders maybe be unable to take a special order. You still have a cup in your hand of a visibly bubbly drink, so you’ll blend in with the rest of the imbibing crowd and can enjoy a carbonated, crisply satisfying sipper. Add a citrusy vibe to your cup with a few slices of lime, lemon, or orange. And for an additional pop of flavor, you can ask if the bartender if they’d be willing to add a dash or two of (non-alcoholic) bitters to your cup.
This old-school classic that you ordered as a kid when you wanted to feel like a grown-up is now an actual grown-up drink to order. Depending on the bartender, a Shirley Temple is basically a combination of a lemon-flavored soda with a splash of grenadine and topped with a Maraschino cherry. It’s bubbly, it’s sweet, and it leaves you fully capable of operating a vehicle.
A Sunrise without the Tequila
Ask the bartender to pour up (cues Rihanna voice) this bright, fruity drink in a tall highball glass—without the tequila, but maybe with a splash of soda water. Your OJ and grenadine concoction the perfect simple drink to sip on at brunch.
This fairy-tale mocktail is a mashup of all your favorite fruit juices. The drink starts with a combination of lemon, orange, and pineapple juices, followed by a little fizz. Bartenders tend to use either ginger ale or club soda to lighten up the tartness of the juices, finishing off the drink with a splash of grenadine for sweetness.
Moscow Mule Mocktail
Moscow mules are hands down on of the coolest classic cocktails that you can order while you’re out, especially if you’re drinking it out of the signature copper mugs. And when you leave out the vodka, you still have a refreshing mix of spicy ginger beer mixed with zesty lime juice. Win.
Coconut Cucumber Cooler
This drink’s name may be a tongue twister if you say it three times fast, but it’s definitely among the smoothest, thirst-quenching drinks you can order. It starts with coconut water as the base, and then a combination of muddled lime, cucumber, and mint are mixed in. Stir in just a bit of simple syrup for sweetness and a squeeze of lime juice for a kick of brightness.
Long Island Iced Tea Mocktail
Traditionally, the Long Island Iced Tea is known as the drink to order when you really want to have a good night with no reservations. However, the booze-free version is a less abrasive, yet highly tasty, combination of freshly brewed black tea, ginger ale, and simple syrup.
Since we are leaving the vodka and tequila behind, the freshly squeezed grapefruit juice has the opportunity to shine. Sweetened with sugar, this booze-free citrus explosion turns into a sparkly grapefruit soda with the additional mineral or soda water.
This drink is named after the actor, Steve McQueen and it offers bold, rich flavor that backup the high-profile moniker. Chilled apple cider and fresh orange juice are mixed with ginger gastrique, a vinegar syrup spiced with ginger and lightly sweetened. The recipe calls for bitters, which often have small traces of alcohol; depending on how strict you are with your fast, you can opt to leave the bitters out if the bar does not have non-alcoholic bitters on hand.