After an indulgent holiday season, maybe you’re looking for a little breather from alcohol with a Dry January. Maybe it’ll help you reach your 2020 resolution. Or maybe you’re sober-curious.
Dry January doesn’t have to mean a month of diet sodas, especially when Boston-area bars and cocktail-centric restaurants and are jumping in on the teetotaler trend.
From house-made shrubs to culinary-inspired flavors, these zero-proof options celebrate the spirit of drinking — minus the spirits.
With a name like a Fauxgroni, you’d expect this drink at Seaport Mediterranean spot Committee Ouzeri + Bar to taste like its boozy muse, the Negroni.
“What we wanted to do was encapsulate the dominant flavors you find in cocktails in some other fashion,” beverage manager Lou Charbonneau said of his Dry January menu, which launched January 2.
To mimic the gin in the Fauxgroni, Charbonneau created a “false gin” shrub by cold-pressing cucumber, adding sugar, and blending it with juniper berry, Szechuan peppercorn, and cardamom. “I do a molasses syrup with raisin to provide that sort of oxidized dried fruit flavor you find in a lot of sweet vermouth,” he said. He mixes that house-made syrup and a Giffard non-alcoholic aperitif in place of Campari with a bit of soda water to “elongate the flavor.”
For those seeking a sweeter sip, Charbonneau wanted an alternative for mocktails that are just a mix of juices. His Piñita Colada combines pineapple juice with crème de coconut and green lemon, adding the Southeast Asian plant pandan for a nutty and savory spin. Lemongrass and Thai lime also appear in other mocktails, inspired by his past work at the Rock Restaurant in Thailand.
Committee Ouzeri + Bar; 50 Northern Ave., Boston; Sundays 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Mondays-Fridays 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.; Saturdays 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
For Robert Phillips, bar director at Central Square globe-trotting eatery Little Donkey, crafting his latest Dry January mocktail menu wasn’t just about just dodging alcohol.
“We’re really trying to showcase our house-made ingredients in ways that everyone can enjoy, even if they’re choosing not to imbibe alcohol,” Philips said.
Though Little Donkey has showcased a “Fancy Soda” program since last summer, this latest menu launched in early December. Each cocktail uses house-made ingredients, like a turmeric shrub that’s spiced with cumin and coriander, and features a different carbonating or diluting element, from cold-brew coffee to non-alcoholic sparkling wine by Fre.
Phillips’s favorite is the On in Two, a riff on a classic Arnold Palmer with over-steeped black tea concentrate, lemon, ginger beer, and a hefty kick from a housemade ginger and habanero shrub.
Also bringing the heat is the Quinceañera, a non-alcoholic Michelada that mixes Clausthaler non-alcoholic beer with lime and house Bloody Mary mix made with gochujang Korean chili paste, serving it in a glass rimmed with Aleppo pepper flakes and salt.
“To me, when mocktails are spicy, it kind of imitates that burn that you kind of associate with alcohol,” he said.
Little Donkey; 505 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; Sundays 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-1 a.m.; Mondays-Thursdays 12 p.m.-1 a.m.; Fridays 12 p.m.-2 a.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-2 a.m.
While the North End’s Parla doesn’t have a set mocktail menu, general manager Matt Schafer and his staff are happy to whip up an alcohol-free libation on the fly.
“In terms of mocktails, our go-to is a shrub and soda since it’s something tried, tested, and already good,” Shafer said.
Usually made of a fruit base — though they offer a roasted beet and dill cucumber shrub — combined with sugar and vinegar, shrubs are essentially house-made mixers. Parla peddles 13 options, with the blackberry cilantro, pineapple hibiscus, and mango lime shrubs among customers’ favorites.
Tasked to craft a mocktail for Boston.com, Schafer said he’d mix raspberry shrub with soda water, add a lime and call it a Raspberry Lime Tricky.
“We also have a cantaloupe mint shrub, so that with soda water and a little bit of extra mint, you can call the Cantaloupe Fauxjito,” he said.
Parla, 230 Hanover St., Boston; Sundays 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; Mondays 4:30 pm.m-11:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Thursday 4:30 p.m.-12 a.m.; Fridays-Saturdays 4:30 p.m-12:30 a.m. Fridays 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.; Saturdays 11 a.m.-2 a.m.