These zero-proof cocktails will keep you sipping pretty all dry January

Lifestyle Sports | Lifestyle

Ditch the alcohol for 2022 and try these three recipes

Photo by Kaya Martin.

The last thing I did before the first lockdown was buy a nice bottle of bourbon. I lingered in the liquor store, labouring over the decision of what to drink as the world descended into chaos. I settled on bourbon for its versatility in cocktails and, if I’m being honest, its high percentage. I wasn’t sure how long I may have had to ration.

However, it turned out that there would be no lack of booze in 2020. Bottle shops have remained open throughout all the twists and turns that COVID-19 has thrown at us. This accessibility, no doubt  combined with the added boredom and stress of the pandemic, has made alcohol consumption skyrocket during the first year of restrictions.

British Columbians drank more alcohol than ever previously recorded during the 2020 fiscal year, according to data from the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR). The CISUR found we drank the equivalent of 547 cans of beer per person aged 15 and over. This number includes non-drinkers, meaning many of us, not naming names (but pointing the finger at myself), drank a lot more than our fair share.

So what now? We are tired, we are hungover. 2022 is now upon us. With gyms and fitness centres still closed due to Omicron restrictions, our New Year’s resolution to “get jacked” is in the can already (or at least on hold for a while). 

Thankfully, there’s another tried and true way we can improve our wellness from the comfort of our own homes: Dry January.  After a couple years of dousing our sorrows in liquor, Dry January gives us the chance to start fresh. According to health experts, ditching the drinks could result in clearer skin, better sleep cycles, and boosted immune systems, which is definitely a perk as COVID looms. 

But we still deserve a little treat, don’t we? After all that we have been through? Why yes, of course. To keep us going through these chilly 31 days of sobriety, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite zero-proof cocktails. Sweet, but not Shirley Temple-sweet, and complex enough that you won’t miss the boozy bite, these mocktails are designed to hold us over until Freaky February begins.

Island Fizz

Somewhere, on another plane of existence, you are doing a clay face mask on a sun chair and leisurely sipping on an Island Fizz. It’s so piquant and refreshing that you have forgotten all about your desire for alcohol. Your liver is detoxified and pure. Rihanna plays softly in the distance. You are at peace.

1 cup boiling water

1 spicy chai tea bag 

1 tsp black peppercorns

Juice from half a lime

Ginger beer to fill

Fresh mint or candied ginger

First, we’ll start by making the chai base. For the best results, make sure to use an extra strong chai tea. Boil a cup of water, then add the chai tea and black peppercorns and let steep for 5 minutes.

Fill a highball glass with ice. Once the tea is steeped, slowly pour half of the mixture over the ice. Save the rest of the tea for later, or make a drink for a friend! If you are drinking with a straw, I recommend leaving the peppercorns in. They look pretty and they will float to the top and be easy to avoid. However, feel free to strain them out if you don’t want the hassle.

Add the juice from half a lime, fill with ginger beer and stir. To garnish, skewer a piece of candied ginger on a cocktail pick and rest on the rim of the glass or add a whole sprig of fresh mint. Hot tip: make sure to clap your mint between your hands before using. It allows the fragrant oils to come to the surface without ruining the texture.

Ballet Slipper

Who wants to have a cheeky little drink at brunch without needing to take a nap two hours later? Me, please! Introducing the Ballet Slipper: a drink that is guaranteed to make your friends jealous despite its lack of booze. With no shaking or stirring necessary, it’s easy enough to whip up before your first morning coffee. This drink is practically begging for a side of salmon eggs benedict and enthralling gossip.

2 ½ oz pink grapefruit juice

1 oz lychee popping boba 

Club soda to fill

Chill all ingredients in the fridge overnight. First, add the boba pearls, which can likely be found at your local Asian grocery store, to a champagne coupe. A champagne coupe is better than a champagne flute for this drink, as the shallow bowl allows for better access to the boba which will sink to the bottom.

Next, add the grapefruit juice. If you are in the mood to get fancy, you can try floating the soda in the cocktail. To do this, place a face-down spoon on top of the grapefruit juice, and slowly add the soda to create two distinct layers of colour. 

Hot Flash

Hey, maybe what you like about alcohol is the masochism — that involuntary wince after knocking back a shot of Hornito’s finest. I’m not judging! The Hot Flash provides all of the cabana sippablity of your favourite tiki drink with the burn included, courtesy of the jalapeno. What it doesn’t provide is a night full of regrets. Cheers to that!

1 oz full fat coconut milk

3 oz pineapple juice

Juice of half a lime

Slice of jalapeno

2 tbsp Sumac

1 tsp salt 

Combine the salt and sumac in a small dish. Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt is preferable as it has a milder taste and a soft, flaky texture, but feel free to use whatever you have at hand. Rub a slice of lime around the rim of a rocks glass to get it sticky, then flip the cup upside down and rub the rim onto your salt and sumac mix.

Add the coconut milk, pineapple juice and lime juice into a shaker without ice. Next, add a piece of jalapeno with the seeds removed, the size depending on how spicy you want your drink to be. Alternatively, you can add a dash of your favourite Mexican hot sauce. 

Close the shaker and shake until you can feel the mixture thicken slightly, around 30 seconds. This technique, called a “dry shake,” helps to create a better foam on the final product. Open the shaker and add ice, then shake the mixture again until you feel it become cold. Pour into your rimmed rocks glass, straining out the jalapeno and the ice. Garnish with a slice of lime.