Dry February: Take A Break From Booze With Zero-Proof Cocktails
Photo: Rawpixel (Getty Images)
So, you decided to continue your holiday partying a little longer than you expected. Instead of stopping on New Year’s Eve and limiting your alcohol intake in January, you decided to carry on your weekends of cocktails, beer, and wine through the month. But it’s starting to take its toll on your body and mind so it’s finally time to get that New Year’s resolution started. No time like the present, right? Dry January might be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a dry February. Heck, there’s no wrong month to take a break from booze (if that’s the sort of thing you’re into).
Since it’s hard to give up your Friday night cocktail ritual, there are alcohol-free options guaranteed to make you (sort of) forget about vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, and tequila.
Motivation to dry out: Alcohol Is Now The Main Reason People Need Liver Transplants, Study Says
Simply put, a zero-proof cocktail is a mixed drink that doesn’t contain any alcohol. “Just like an alcoholic cocktail, they can be made from a variety of ingredients and they have a wide variety of styles,” says Alex Jump, bar manager at Death & Co in Denver.
Photo: Paloma Herbstein / EyeEm (Getty Images)
In recent years, alcohol-free cocktails, or mocktails, have become increasingly popular. “There will always be a person at the bar who doesn't want an alcoholic beverage, for a variety of reasons, so it's really nice to be able to offer a creative and exciting alternative for those guests,” says Jump.
“Either guests are staying dry and looking for a zero-proof cocktail or, they aren't quite done drinking but want something that's either low proof or zero-proof and the non-alcoholic option is a happy bridge,” says Daniel Zacharczuk, general manager of Bibo Ergo Sum in Los Angeles.
Photo: Donald Crossland (Getty Images)
Why Dry February?
A lot of people choose to participate in “Dry January” by abstaining from drinking for the month of January to start the new year refreshed and balanced. It’s popular because drinkers are looking to maintain their lifestyle without borrowing too much of tomorrow's happiness today, like you might have done during the holidays.
But, Zacharczuk believe February is actually the right month to go dry. “I would petition for a dry February instead of January,” he says. “Someone I know pitched this and I think it's brilliant for one simple reason - February has fewer days.”
Photo: Catherine Falls Commercial (Getty Images)
The biggest difference (and one you’ll probably notice right away) is that alcohol has a very strong flavor and texture. Because of this, mixing drinks without it leaves gaps that need to be filled by other ingredients. “It's quite rewarding to serve a sessionable no-alcoholic cocktail that is on par (in flavor and texture) with a full-strength cocktail,” says Zacharczuk.
Take, for example, the daiquiri. “I love daiquiris, but if you give me a lime and sugar sour when I ask for a non-alcoholic daiquiri-type drink, I'm going to be disappointed that you didn't think of the flavors of rum to add to it -- vanilla, nutmeg, bitter lime, bitter orange, banana -- without having to add rum itself,” he says.
Photo: Elizabeth Livermore (Getty Images)
The Right Ingredients
You can use many different kinds of ingredients to make zero-proof cocktails, depending on what kind of cocktail you want to make. “For instance, at Death & Co we have a few different zero-proof cocktails on the menu, one that uses clarified orange juice and birch extract, and one that uses Kefir Whey, Egg White and Seedlip Spice,” says Jump.
Products like Seedlip Non-Alcoholic Spirits and Non-Alcoholic Bitters are great to use in zero-proof cocktails because they can provide a very concentrated flavor without adding sugar. “On the other hand, using house made syrups is also a great way to provide the flavor you want to have in your zero-proof cocktail,” says Jump.
Zacharczuk uses similar ingredients to what is already on their cocktail menu, sans alcohol. “Pandan, cherry, raspberry, mint, as well as coconut, ginger, cinnamon, and teas,” he says.
Photo: Emilija Manevska (Getty Images)
Balance is Key
Ingredients and balance are key when making zero-proof cocktails. “Often times, sweeteners are relied on to provide the bulk of the flavor in a zero-proof cocktail, which can result in an unbalanced, way too sweet beverage,” says Jump. “Finding great flavoring agents that don't make your cocktail too sweet is the recipe for success when developing zero-proof cocktails.”
Photo: Uff Mani / EyeEm (Getty Images)
Do Mocktails Taste Different?
The taste of a zero-proof cocktail shouldn't really be much different than an alcohol-based cocktail as far as balance is concerned. “The main difference is the flavor of whatever alcohol would be in a similar cocktail, but otherwise, they are not that different,” says Jump.
Photo: Koukichi Takahashi / EyeEm (Getty Images)