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Dry January Tips: How to Master a Month of Mindful Drinking

Considering taking the month-long sobriety challenge known as “Dry January?” Here are a few tips to keep you on the zero-alcohol track – plus, a few mocktail recipes from Opal signature restaurants that are so slakeable, they may just become your spirit-free staple.


Dry January: You’ve likely heard of it – or its other moniker, “Drynuary.” While this act of abstaining from alcohol – especially after the boozy-fueled festivities of December – is nothing new, what is evolving is the level of participation. In 2022, nearly one in five U.S. adults said they were giving Dry January a go, up from 13% the year before. While that number dipped in 2023, it was still on the rise over the years of 2021 and 2020.

Are you one of the many forecasted to dive into a dry month for January 2024? Or think you’ll be looking to practice another trending term – known as “mindful drinking” – at any time this year? These few essential tips and various other Dry January facts – including how sampling short-term sobriety can assist you with long-term control – can help you go 100% on, well, 0%.

WHAT IS DRY JANUARY?

Taking advantage of the fact that people are looking to set intentions for self-improvement as the calendar flips to the new year, the Dry January Challenge encourages people to give up drinking for the entirety of – yes, you guessed it – January. While the recent resurgence originated with a charity called Alcohol Change UK in 2013 before blooming into a global phenomenon, the act of putting alcohol on hold during the first month of the year actually dates back further than you think – with origins in Finland. Sober January, as the northern European nation called it, first took place in 1942 when the Finnish government launched the campaign as part of its war effort against the Soviet Union. Today, more than 30 million people in the U.S. alone participate in navigating January without a drop.

THE BENEFITS OF DRY JANUARY

Does pushing away the bottle for a month really make a difference in your health? Even in the short term, participants reported benefits like a reduction in weight and blood pressure, as well as improved sleep, mood, and energy levels.

But, perhaps more importantly, the act of sampling sobriety for a month provides enough time for individuals to cultivate new habits that can live long beyond the 31 days – like becoming comfortable with turning down alcohol in social settings or leaning on other alternatives for relaxing, socializing, and dealing with stress. In a nutshell, short-term sobriety can assist with long-term control: When you take the time to understand what triggers you to drink, you develop tools to overcome, and, ultimately, drink less. In recent years, this has given rise to the term mindful drinking, the idea that rather than cutting out alcohol entirely, people explore elements of a booze-free lifestyle without fully abstaining.

Just because you may be abstaining from alcohol doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy flavorful mocktails – see tip #3 below for some of our best mocktail recipes from an Opal master mixologist.

6 DRY JANUARY TIPS TO KEEP YOU ON TRACK

A month of sobriety can feel daunting, but not if you have some tricks up your sleeve to help keep the booze at bay.

1. Assemble Your Support Squad

Make your goal known to your friends and family, so someone doesn’t unknowingly place a glass of liquid temptation in front of you. It’s also a way to open up a channel of communication and support from them that can be hugely helpful over the course of the month. And better yet, see if you can enlist someone to do Dry January with you. You can hold each other accountable, vent during a particularly tough day, commend each other during your wins, and plan activities that don’t involve slinging back a couple of cold ones.

2. Practice Your “No Thank You”

Saying no to a drink can be difficult in social settings – especially when it elicits a litany of questions like “why?” or prodding to “have just one.” Having an assertive and polite talk track you can easily turn to (rehearsing helps) can help you triumph over urges.

3. Find a New Favorite Drink

They may not give you a buzz, but non-alcoholic beverages sure are generating a lot of buzz with an influx of products on the market. And if you lavish the ritual of having a drink in the evening to unwind after a long day or simply love the taste, there are plenty of options to satisfy your thirst – including what you’ll find under the spirit-free section of Opal restaurants’ drink menus. And this isn’t a meager virgin daiquiri. Our mixologists mix, muddle, and master flavorful combinations that are just as slake-worthy despite being sans spirit.

3 Mocktail Recipes from Opal Restaurants

Island Mule

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Seedlip Spice 94
  • 4-5 slices of cucumber
  • 1 oz. honey syrup
  • 5 oz. mango puree
  • 5 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 5 oz. ginger beer

Instructions

  1. Muddle cucumber and honey syrup in a cocktail shaker before adding all other ingredients
  2. Shake with ice, strain and top with ginger beer

Fire & Spice Margarita

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Seedlip Grove 42
  • 4 slices of cucumber
  • 3 slices of jalapeños
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. orange shrub (recipe)

Instructions

  1. Muddle cucumber and jalapeños in a cocktail shaker before adding all other ingredients
  2. Pour over ice and garnish with dehydrated lime

Make-Believe Mai Tai

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Seedlip Spice 94
  • 1 oz. orgeat syrup
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice
  2. Serve in a Collins glass with dehydrated pineapple and a dark cherry

4. Identify Triggers & Have a Back-Up Plan

When your instinct to reach for a bottle of something kicks in, take stock of what is triggering you in that particular moment. Is it trouble falling asleep? Desire to have fun? To cope with stress or anxiety? Boredom? Then develop back-up activities that ease these triggers: going for a walk, run, or hike; calling up a friend; crafting; heck, you can even turn to chores to bang out much-needed cleaning, laundry, or yardwork (a double win).

5. Don’t Give Up If You Give In

Even if your Dry January turns into a damp one, you should still consider it a success if it means you cut your consumption – after all, you are still practicing mindful drinking. So don’t beat yourself up if you slip up, just try to refocus on the goal. And if you know you can’t do 31 days alcohol-free from the start, don’t force it. Instead, set attainable goals like cutting your consumption to 15 out of the 31 days or not drinking on weekdays.

6. Keep Track of Wins

Keeping tabs on how much money you may have saved, how you feel (are you sleeping better or have more energy?), or days you’ve managed to tally up without a drink can make for excellent motivation to keep your momentum going.

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