Style + Happy Hour

Happy Hour: A Mocktail for Dry January

This year, I decided that I would embrace Dry January.  I was a non-drinker for most of my 20s, so it surprised me how reflexively I order a cocktail now.  Want to meet up with a friend?  Cocktails.  Want to kill 20-minutes before dinner?  Cocktails.  It seemed like a good time to take a bit of a break.

Town and Country magazine prepared a list of festive holiday mocktails.  Some might be a bit too Christmas-y for January, but a few are pure gold.  This Blackberry Mocktail with Saigon Cinnamon syrup from Pinewood Social is really fantastic.

The hardest part of doing Dry January (all 10 days of it that I’ve accomplished so far, to be fair) is that it is harder to make plans.  I’m trying to find more things to do with friends that don’t involve drinking, but in winter, that’s tough.  It feels like we should do Dry June, so that hiking and pool time can supplant hot cocktails by the fire.  First World problems, I know.

This Callie Dress from Line & Dot is a nice choice whether you’re going out or staying in.  It’s fairly loose-fitting, which means it can be tricky on some figures.  But I bought a medium (which is a hair big, but better than a hair small), and I wear it with a pair of high heeled tan tall boots.  (These Loefflers are the dream; these Banana Republics are reality, and comfortable.)  It looks really relaxed and easy, but feels a bit more dressed up.

Looking for some end-of-season sweater dresses at affordable prices?  This Topshop cocoon dress has caught my eye three times this week.  I just haven’t pulled the trigger.  This Express turtleneck dress is also nice.

Plus-size?  Modcloth has a lot of nice dresses in inclusive sizes.  I like this button-knit dress and this crewneck sweater dress in a pretty teal-blue.

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  1. sara says:

    with ya on dry january. can’t deny my sleep quality is MUCH improved without alcohol but I feel like I haven’t seen my friends all month. sure, meeting friends for work-out classes or to see a movie are a possibility, but it’s definitely isolating.

    21 days to go!

    January 10, 2020/Reply
  2. MKal says:

    Glad to say there are more and more restaurants in DC that have legit mocktails on the menu. I was at Compass Rose and The Imperial (the new place by Jack Rose Saloon) and impressed by what they had.

    January 10, 2020/Reply
    • imck says:

      I was going to say the same thing. I’ve been trying to drink less overall, and at least in SF, there is a really robust mocktail scene. Even if there isn’t something fun on the menu (and there usually is), the bartenders are more than happy to make something interesting.

      I also highly recommend Tiki bars if you aren’t drinking booze but still want to meet up with people. It’s still fun, and with all the juices and fruits, you don’t actually miss the alcohol. Plus, there’s nothing like papaya whipped cream in a tiki glass in winter!

      January 10, 2020/Reply
  3. Michelle says:

    My Fiance and I do Dry January and July (altered to run July 9- August 9 so that he/we can drink on his birthday).

    It’s really helpful for us to do it it one month in the summer in order to lower our drinking at baseball games. With the Nationals you can bring in food- but you still have to buy their $12 bud lights, which add up quickly. And we go to 25-30 of the games a season.

    January 10, 2020/Reply
  4. Betsy says:

    My go to mocktail drink is soda and bitters. Still festive, but practically non alcoholic.

    I love that dress – wish it came in an additional color.

    Have a fabulous weekend! Cheers!

    January 10, 2020/Reply
  5. Joanna says:

    Doing dry January too. Tough to makes plans, I have been suggesting gym classes, ex: hey: I have a guest pass for yoga, wanna join on Wed. night? works with some friends.

    January 10, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      The movies has worked as an option. The issue is we don’t have the museums or cultural events in Spokane that I would have in D.C..

      January 10, 2020/Reply
    • Nonny Mouse says:

      I stopped drinking several years ago due to a medication interaction, and it doesn’t need to be isolating. I still get together with my friends for drinks, and then just … don’t drink alcohol. I have a non-alcoholic drink and they don’t give me a hard time because they are my friends (my in-laws, on the other hand, sheesh). If you feel you can’t not drink around your friends then you need to think about who your friends are.

      January 11, 2020/Reply
      • Belle says:

        It’s not that I can’t “not drink,” it’s like going to lunch and not eating, it’s just not the norm. If you went to lunch with a friend and didn’t order something, the friend would probably ask why you weren’t eating, ask you if you were sure you didn’t want something, maybe ask if you wanted some of her meal, it’s just how people are wired. And as I said above, if it was normal for me not to be drinkin, or like you my friends knew I wasn’t drinking for medical reasons, they would behave differently.

        January 12, 2020/Reply
  6. Alicia says:

    Really is it so hard for people not to drink with their friends and still go out? I go to bars and restaurants all the time with my friends who drink and I get diet cokes instead because I usually do not drink, and no one seems to care. Yoga classes and alternate activities are great but please don’t think you can’t go out and enjoy yourself at night or at brunch without having a drink.

    January 10, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      It’s not hard to start out the night not drinking, but if you’re used to drinking, the more the night wears on the tougher it gets. Also, peer pressure is not confined to your youth. I have sat in bars and watched grown adults chide other grown adults for not drinking, asking repeatedly if they can get them a drink, and even ordering shots for “everyone” and then haranguing the person not drinking because someone else “has to” drink theirs.

      If you don’t usually drink, as I didn’t for many years, it’s easier. The reason being that no one expects you to drink. But when they are used to you drinking with them, that changes.

      January 10, 2020/Reply
    • Andrea says:

      I think, at least in my case, it’s a little tougher to be in a drinking-centered environment because the bottom line is that I genuinely enjoy the flavors of wine and it sucks to feel like I’m missing out on something I like. Even though I may take a break for good reasons (health, sleep, weight) it’s still a little hard to deny myself something that makes me happy especially, as Belle says, if there is pressure to have “just one glass”.

      Think of it like this: if I undertake a low-carb plan to lose a few pound, that doesn’t mean I *can’t* join my friends at an Italian restaurant…but being surrounded by pasta and not being able to eat it isn’t exactly the most fun a girl can have. So I would probably be more likely to suggest an alternate type of restaurant when it’s my turn to choose to help me adhere to my plan.

      Belle- I’m not sure if you have one near you, but my girlfriends and I have had big success with a day at an outlet mall as an alternative to brunch & day drinking. We get plenty of steps in, chat all day, maybe score a few bargains. I was surprised by how much fun it was!

      January 11, 2020/Reply
    • MJ says:

      I don’t understand the issue either. Can’t you just invite someone over to hang out?

      I have no medical reason not to drink but my friends don’t give me any grief when I choose to skip it. I agree with the above commenter about examining why your friends are so anti-sobriety.

      January 13, 2020/Reply
      • Brandi says:

        I’m with you. We just got back from a trip to Europe, and my best friend and her husband met up with us in Vienna. They drink, and he wanted to check out a really lovely rooftop bar. Everyone got Gluhwein, I went with a hot ginger lemonade (non-alcoholic). Turned out I ended up with the best drink and my fiance and I have been replicating that on the regular since we got home.

        Even being in DC and going out with coworkers, it’s not a huge deal to just ask for a soda water with lime at a bar. It was more of an issue in my early 20s than it seems to be now. I honestly don’t know the last time anyone we were with did shots.

        January 13, 2020/Reply
  7. Christine says:

    I don’t know how late coffee shops typically stay open in Spokane, but if I need to meet up with someone to catch up and it can’t involve drinks, I usually suggest meeting for coffee instead. In all honesty I always order tea rather than coffee when I’m there, but it’s the same type of let’s-catch-up-over-a-drink setting.

    January 11, 2020/Reply
  8. Evelyn says:

    I hear ya! For me, drinks with friends do not always mean a wild night out. Rather, it’s just an opportunity to catch up – which isn’t always easy to if you’re taking a class together, watching a movie, or doing something else where conversation is not the focus. I’m happy to have a non-alcoholic drink as long as it has flavor and some thought put into it. Sadly, not many bars offer good mocktails, fancy kombucha, or craft sodas. And even if they do have non-alcoholic options, they are often way too sweet, or served in a plain glass without garnish. Presentation matters! I’d much rather have water in a wine glass than wine in a water glass…

    I’m a martini drinker, so during dry January (or whenever, really), I mix tonic water with some olive juice, lemon juice, and a few drops of bitters. Pour into a martini glass, garnish with olives. Hits the spot.

    January 13, 2020/Reply
  9. Catherine says:

    Thx Belle, for your thoughtful and thought provoking posts, plus of course the fab 4 ways! I am a senior-ish lawyer at one of the biglaw firms and really enjoy your posts.

    Love the non-fashion photos you usually have at the start. Such beautiful places.

    I agree it’s a challenge to do dry January, but the benefits are so great. I have had success saying to myself (and others as needed) that I am going for standard medical tests as part of my annual physical (necessary detail so no one gets worried thinking i am sick) and can’t drink for 24/48 hours before. Everyone lays off with that. If just with female friends, I sometimes just say the truth- I am laying off drinking because it makes me sick/ so I can sleep better.

    It’s not about friends/clients not being good people, but drinking is so much a part of our culture and bonding.

    Good luck to all undertaking dry January!

    January 13, 2020/Reply