While a lot of people give up alcohol entirely in January, we’re doing things a bit differently with a month devoted to drinking less, drinking lower ABV, and celebrating all that’s great about the drinks industry. It’s not Dry January, it’s Dryish January!

Judging by the mood on social media, it doesn’t look like Dry January is going to be quite the event it usually is. If the people you’re following are anything like mine, there’s a lot of ‘seriously fuck Dry January’ going on. One of our local restaurants has a sign up saying “We’re doing Dry January here: Dry Martini, London Dry Gin, dry white wine.” 

Dry January has become such a fixture on the drinks trade calendar that you might be surprised that it’s a recent coinage. According to The Week magazine, it was registered in 2014 as a trademark by Alcohol Concern. Since then it’s been followed by all kinds of other ‘giving-up’ months like Stoptober, Go Sober for October, and Veganuary (dread word!).

Dryish January

But, of course, following a period of excess with one of abstinence isn’t exactly a new idea. Most religions involve a bit of fasting, like the 40 days of Lent which commemorates Jesus’s 40 days in the wilderness. Dry January is essentially the secular equivalent.

It has proved particularly popular in the drinks trade where Christmas can start some time in early December and go on until New Year’s Day. It’s great to give your body a well earned rest. But there seem to be few takers this year. This might be because so many of those festive events did not take place because of fears of the Omicron variant. Or just that after two years of restrictions, the idea of giving up something that provides a lot of pleasure during the coldest and most depressing month of the year seems like a really bad idea. 

The back bar at the Gibson

Photo credit: The Gibson in London

Go out to help out

Furthermore, all those Christmas cancellations means that the beleaguered hospitality industry is in an extremely precarious position. If everybody stays in this January, there might not be anywhere to go out when February comes around. We like the sound of a campaign that brewers and drinks writers have got behind called Tryanuary (dread word, again!) This encourages people to experiment with their drinks choices.

So this year at Master of Malt our ‘Dry January’ is going to look a bit different. We’re calling it Dryish January and we will still be looking at some fully alcohol free options with examples of cocktails and new products that you can try if you’re cutting out the booze completely, and even running a competition to win a bundle of zero ABV goodies to be won. But for Dryish January we will also be looking at ways you can make delicious drinks with less alcohol using liqueurs, fortified wines like Port or sherry, and vermouth, for example, in place of full strength spirits. There are also very clever high strength spirits which are packed so full of flavour that you only need to use a tiny bit.

We will also be visiting producers, meeting distillers and trying exciting new spirits as usual. But most of all, we’ll be celebrating the diverse wonders of the drinks industry and encouraging you to get out there, visit bars, pubs and restaurants, and taste new things, whether they contain alcohol or not. Let’s raise a glass to Dryish January!