January is not necessarily the most delightful month of the year. I’m fully aware of that. I’m also fully aware that many people use this month as one in which to recharge. That means a focus on health, naturally, and no focus at all on imbibing alcohol.
Of course, in recent years, many people have backed off of the booze, and it’s worth noting that, given that enthusiasm for teetotalism, a niche market of booze-free cocktails and mixers has cropped up. What if this January was the month that you explored the alcohol-free side of drinking?
To that end, I’d like to introduce a list of cool alcohol-free drinks that you should endeavor to find, in honor of the month of sobriety. May your new year be healthy, wealthy, and wise — and full of toasts.
Wölffer Estate Vineyard’s Verjus
Sagaponack’s Wölffer Estate Vineyard has two different versions of verjus, which is, essentially, grape juice for grown-ups. The white verjus is a clean, smart balance of tart and sweet fruit notes, and can be mixed with seltzer or citrus or just served on the rocks for a fun and festive mocktail. Last year, the winery also introduced their Petit Rosé Verjus, made from Long Island-grown Pinot Meunier. The Petit Rosé comes in 12-ounce bottles, is lightly sweet, and finishes with a refreshing hit of carbon dioxide, for that Champagne feel without the actual Champagne. Small format bottles are perfect for taking with you — but you can also set them out for people to drink in lieu of other, less artisanal, soft drinks.
Curious Elixirs’ Batch Cocktails
This company has been on the move. These are booze-free cocktails from the Hudson River Valley, which are sold pre-batched in glass bottles. They use organic juices, herbs, spices, roots, botanicals, and barks in their blends. Currently, there are four different blends on offer. The No. 1 is “bold, bitter, herbaceous,” and teeming with pomegranate; No. 2 is “bright and spicy” with pineapple and orange, No. 3 is full of florals, citrus, and cucumber, and No. 4 is a limited release that summons the bitter citrus of blood orange. You can order these in differing sizes and configurations from curiouselixirs.com.
Jamesport Vineyards’ Verjus
This local winery also makes its own version of verjus. Using Riesling grapes that have achieved only half-ripeness, the winery produces an extremely bright wine that can actually be used as a substitute for vinegar. But if you prefer to drink your non-alcoholic juice, rather than slather it on salad, you can mix this verjus with any number of other things (I like pineapple juice and a dash of bitters). Pour your concoction over ice and you have your very own drink, just in time for January.
Athletic Brewing Company’s Craft Beers
If non-alcoholic beer is, to you, an unserious category, Athletic Brewing Company wants to change your mind. Founder Bill Shufelt developed the brand as he was preparing to get married — and, ostensibly, embrace a healthier lifestyle. He teamed up with a well known craft brewer, set up shop in Connecticut, and moved forward from there. The brewery now produces five separate beers: the Run Wild IPA, the Upside Dawn golden, the Freeway double hop IPA, the Stump Jump autumn brown, and the All Out extra dark. Beers can be ordered online through athleticbrewing.com, and beer subscriptions are available, too.
Ceder’s Distilled Non-Alcoholic Gin
One martini, I always say, is never enough, but two is too many. If you feel like I do, you may be interested in this product, which offers the botanicals and flavor of gin without the stumbling-out-of-the-bar after effect. The company offers three different blends — Classic, Crisp, and Wild — for gin drinkers to fall in love with. The Classic is just what it sounds like: full of juniper berry, coriander, and geranium. The Crisp offers up cucumber, chamomile, citrus, and other botanicals. And the Wild combines classic juniper with spicy ginger, fragrant rooibos, and aromatic clove. The company suggests classic uses for these mixers, including the Ceder’s and tonic, the Collins, and the 1970s classic the Stinger. This product is only available in the United Kingdom as of right now, but the company is looking to expand its footprint, so expect it to arrive on American shores soon enough — maybe even in this brand-new year.
One fine body…