Happy 2022! Here's the 5PM Eternal shortcut to Dry January
A very short list of the best of the best non-alcoholic drinks you can pour straight into a glass.
Happy New Year, readers! While it’s still Dead Week for a few more hours, it’s now officially the 2nd day of Dry January, so I felt like I would be remiss completely taking a week off from writing to you.
Rather than post a recipe this week, I’ve compiled a very short list of what I think are the definitive ready-to-drink non-alcoholic replacements whether your preferred poison is wine, beer, or a beautifully crafted cocktail. These are all fabulous and ready to drink (plus or minus a bit of chilling) straight out of the box. They’re also available by renewable monthly subscriptions, so you can have a Dry February, rest of the winter, or even a whole year!
The non-alcoholic option that’s better than alcohol-removed wine for foodies and wine snobs
I’ve raved about Acid League’s Wine Proxies in a number of outlets at this point, including on my holiday gift guide on 5PM Eternal. Though they are not actually wine, but blends of juices, teas, vinegars, spices, herbs, and whatever else they can throw in that tastes good, Proxies are exquisitely complex and exciting drinks, unlike de-alcoholized wines, which tend to taste like their flavors were evaporated along with the ethanol. Because they were designed to be “an interesting thing to drink with your meal,” as Head of Proxies Charlie Friedmann told me when I interviewed him for The Zero Proof, these are the choice to pair with food.
Currently, there are two tasting packs available and on sale on Acid League’s website: the Tasting Set of 4 bottles, and the current monthly “club” offering of 3 bottles, with the option of a one time purchase, or a monthly subscription to save even more. If money is no object, I’d say go nuts and get both boxes, but if you must choose, I would say get the monthly offering for Chios and Sunbeam, which are both great examples of just how exciting Proxies can get, sometimes even more interesting than most wines (while still being incredible with food). The box is rounded out by the less challenging, but goes with everything easy drinking red, Serene.
One of my New Year’s goals is to start a monthly Wine Proxies supper club, because I have so much fun planning the meals for Acid League’s monthly offerings. Given that we’ve all spent so little time gathering together in the last two years, I’m excited to start doing this as soon as it seems responsible, because my birthday trial run of this was a blast. Maybe get a subscription, both to Acid League and 5PM Eternal, so we can swap recipes?
Zero-proof beer for post-workout recovery (or armchair tailgating)
Did you know that non-alcoholic beer is actually a better post-workout recovery drink than water, Gatorade, or other so-called sports drinks? Seriously, I didn’t make this up! Olympians drink it, and there’s even some actual science behind this. Of course, the taste of non-alcoholic beer has a deservedly terrible reputation; I’ve tried a few non-alcoholic beer options that are trendy in zero-proof world and while they’re certainly better than O’Doul’s, I still can’t recommend them.
With one exception.
Athletic Brewing Company has figured out how to make genuinely delicious, craft quality beer without the buzz (they’re even specifically mentioned on the Team USA website!). They have a Dry January pack available, but I suggest starting a subscription by joining the Athletic Club. You don’t have to order every month, it’s easy to skip orders, and you get early access to (and discounts on!) all of their limited edition, high quality non-alcoholic brews, such as a constantly rotating selection of single origin hop IPAs, weisses and goses made with real fruit in the summer, the Dark & Gourdy pumpkin beer and First Ride Coffee Porter in the fall, and weird and wonderful experiments like the just-released Lodge Life, a s’mores-inspired stout.
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For exquisite booze-free cocktails that will relax you after a long day of work
If you’ve been a reader for awhile, it will probably come as no surprise that I’m generally not a fan of pre-made non-alcoholic cocktails. I’ve tried quite a few at this point, and they’ve ranged from downright undrinkable to OK, but missing the je ne sais quoi that separates a non-alcoholic cocktail from a soft drink. Curious Elixirs are the exception that proves the rule, but what an exception they are! Not only are they just as delicious as craft cocktails you would make at home with fresh fruits, herbs, and flavored syrups, they’re also infused with adaptogens and botanicals that help to replicate the positive effects one wants from a drink, without getting you drunk or giving you a hangover. Each bottle or can has two cocktails, so you can share them with a friend, or if you’re having a particularly rough day, you can have that second drink yourself.
Curious just launched their 7th formula, an elderflower and lavender champagne cocktail that I cannot wait to try, because the previous six have been excellent. My favorites change all the time, but as of this writing, I’m preferential to Curious Elixir No. 2, a damiana infused mashup of a pineapple margarita and a Dark and Stormy, and No. 5, a smoke cherry and bitter chocolate concoction that drinks like a sophisticated whiskey drink over ice with an orange twist, or like a big, spicy, New World Shiraz when poured into a red wine glass.
I’ll be back next week with a brand new recipe. In the meantime, Happy New Year— 2021 may be over, but 5:00 can be eternal!
Are you doing Dry January yourself? Let me know in the comments, or tell me what you want to see from 5PM Eternal in 2022!