Going dry in January and avoiding those no-booze blues

Following the traditional over-indulgence of the Holiday season, it’s equally traditional to slam on the brakes and almost overnight go from roast turkey to cold turkey. And we’re not talking about leftovers. Almost all of us have, at some point in the past, attempted to pursue New Year’s resolutions, signed up for expensive gym memberships that we’re convinced we’ll use regularly and quit drinking any kind of alcohol, for the whole month of January.

And while we absolutely advocate a healthy lifestyle and cutting back on excess is always encouraged, no-booze blues can be tricky to deal with.

Dr. Elizabeth Ko, Medical Director, UCLA Health Integrative Medicine Collaborative, says that with eggnog, adult ciders, spiked punch and celebratory glasses of sparkling wine, it’s not that hard for extra alcohol to creep into one’s daily life during the holiday season.

Peer pressure is a real thing when it comes to drinking. She suggests on UCLA’s Ask the Doctor column to get your nonalcoholic drink served in a wine glass or a flute and you can head off uncomfortable conversations. Set a time at which you will stop drinking and stick to it. Offers of more alcohol may come your way, so it’s also a good idea to prepare a gracious or funny way to refuse.

Talking to the Santa Monica Daily Press, Ko says, “I promote moderation and encourage avoiding excess or deprivation. What we do every day matters more than what we do for a four week cleanse. Imagine if we treated daily habits like brushing our teeth or taking a shower like we did holiday drinking.”

“Sales almost always go down in January, there’s just too many parties in December,” Sandy Mechammil of Santa Monica Liquor told the SMDP. “It doesn’t really pick up again to holiday levels until the beginning of the summer.”

Thankfully, many of the best bars in the Santa Monica area offer alternatives to alcohol.

“Dry January and the whole ‘mocktail’ or ‘zero proof’ movement is definitely here to stay, as evidenced by the growth in availability of non-alcoholic spirits and consumer sales over the last two years,” says Addie Van Gessel, from the Tavern on Main.

“From a pub owner’s perspective it’s something we plan to embrace as it allows us to cater to a new customer base by providing people with unique drink options beyond the existing standard non-alcoholic choices. We plan to add a few non-alcoholic cocktails and beers in the coming months to cater to those customers.”

Since July of last year, Lincoln Blvd has been home to a dedicated alcohol-free retail outlet called The New Bar. Proprietor Brianda Gonzalez told the SMDP that New Year was the busiest they had ever been.

“There are lots of reasons why people opt for a non-alcoholic celebration and in many cases, they had started with an alcoholic beverage or cocktail and perhaps enjoyed one or two, then switched over to something that wasn’t intoxicating. That way there’s no hangover to deal with the next morning.

“Having an exciting non-alcoholic alternative can really make [a dry January] much easier. By trying something new it can make the month much more appealing and even exciting. You can start focusing on what you’ll discover and new things that you could try, rather than thinking about what you might leave behind.”

While not technically a bar in the traditional sense, The New Bar offers weekly brand tastings and ample outdoor seating and Gonzalez says her staff will be able to find a tantalizing alternative to any existing preference.


Scott Snowden

Scott Snowden started with the SMDP in 2023 with a long list of journalistic experience. He has written local and international investigative work in Forbes, The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The...