MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Let's talk dry January. For a lot of people, January's about building new habits - learning to stick to a budget, eating healthier, exercising more. And for a lot of people, taking a break from alcohol fits nicely into all of those goals. It's a chance to reexamine one's relationship with alcohol or maybe just recover from holiday excess. But here we are, two-thirds of the way through the month. Is commitment perhaps flagging a bit? Is all that seltzer bringing you down? Here to help us is Alex Delany with Bon Appetit magazine. He just wrote about this, and he is a dry January devotee himself. Alex Delany, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.
ALEX DELANY: Thanks so much for having me, Michel.
MARTIN: Well, you know, January is cold in a lot of places. And dry January takes away two things that people seem to really care about, particularly, when it's cold, which is warmth and liquor.
MARTIN: Why do you think this is growing in popularity? I just keep seeing a lot more talk about it and people writing about it. Why do you think this is growing in popularity?
DELANY: Sure. I mean, I think the nonalcoholic drinks are on the rise. People are drinking less. I think the younger generation is kind of leading that charge. And I think there's generally more of - more thought about wellness and moderation than there has been before.
MARTIN: Well, you just wrote a piece about kind of how to spice things up. But what are - what have been the go-tos? I mean, do you agree that part of the reason maybe people - their commitment flags is that the drinks are - they're bored with their drinks?
DELANY: Oh, for sure. I mean, you can only drink so many lime seltzers before boredom takes over. But that's the thing. There's - with this growing interest, there are so many new brands that are making nonalcoholic either cocktails or beers or just good old-fashioned beverages.
I'm obsessed right now with this brand called Minna - M-I-N-N-A. They make sparkling tea. And they do a hibiscus tea with lime that I have been drinking nonstop. It's the most refreshing, lively thing. But then I'm also drinking a lot of nonalcoholic beer. There's a brewery called Athletic Brewing out of Connecticut that makes, you know, an IPA that tastes like an IPA without any of the booze. So there are a ton of options that have kind of opened up over the past couple years.
MARTIN: And you came up with a recipe that you posted in Bon Appetit. It's a Rent Week gingerade for dry January. I can't give the whole recipe here. But kind of give us the gist of it. It sounds delicious.
DELANY: So, basically, what I'm doing with that recipe is making kind of a syrup, a reduced liquid out of ginger, orange peel, orange juice and spices like clove, anise seed and black peppercorn and then just adding it to seltzer. It kind of takes the place of the sweet-bitter combination that you would get from, you know, a cocktail you love, like a Negroni or an old fashioned or something like that. It's exciting.
MARTIN: So many people who still want to go out in dry January - I mean, you said in your piece that one of the things that's helpful about it is that, you know, it's cheaper to not drink alcohol. And so your wallet definitely gets a rest. But some people still want to go out. And is there something you recommend that people order? And you've already given us a couple of examples. Like, you can order a nonalcoholic beer or something like that. But others say mocktails are something that's feels exciting that you can order when you go out.
DELANY: For sure. I'm - for me, it's always a bitters and soda. You can change the bitters up. You can change the citrus up, whatever you want to do at the bar. But, also, most bars will accommodate someone who isn't drinking. So finding places like that where, you know, people who are observing dry January can, you know, go and have a good time and people who aren't can also go and have a good time - that's kind of the key for me.
MARTIN: That is Alex Delany of Bon Appetit magazine. Alex, thanks so much for talking to us.
DELANY: Thank you, Michel.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHEERS (DRINK TO THAT)")
RIHANNA: (Singing) There’s a party at the bar. Everybody put your glasses up, and I drink to that. I drink to that. Life’s too short to be sitting around miserable.
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