So you've decided to embark on "Dry January" — a month-long journey of abstaining from alcohol as a way of starting the year off right. Whatever your motivation, there are definitely health benefits to taking a break from booze.
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For starters, taking a short break (like during the month of January) may lead to long-term changes in your drinking behavior. A 2016 study published in Health Psychology found that those who successfully completed Dry January actually drank less in the months to follow.
We all know that alcohol is packed with empty calories and isn't doing your waistline any favors — but it also messes with your sleep and can increase your chances of getting sick. Yes, you might fall asleep faster post a few glasses but your quality of sleep will suffer. Drinking interrupts your circadian rhythm and actually blocks your REM sleep (the most restorative sleep), per the National Sleep Foundation. And because alcohol suppresses your immune system, you're more susceptible to infections and colds, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
But taking part in Dry January doesn't have to mean "No-Fun January" or "Anti-Social January." Even though you're not imbibing alcohol, you can still go out and socialize with friends and perhaps enjoy a mocktail — aka alcohol-free cocktail — or two.
Here are four mocktail recipes that will not only save on calories, but they're crafted with more wholesome ingredients to give your health an overall boost, too. Ask a bartender to concoct these for you when you're out or try your hand at them in your own home to jazz up your weeknights.
1. Instead of a Moscow Mule, Try Our Gingery Kombucha Mocktail
While tasty, a typical Moscow Mule calls for 2 ounces of vodka, 3 ounces or more of ginger beer and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, which totals to about 173 calories and 10 grams of added sugar per drink.
For a healthier mocktail alternative, pour yourself 6 ounces of ginger-flavored kombucha (we like Health-Ade's ginger-lemon flavor) and add a tablespoon or two of fresh-squeezed lime juice to top it off.
You'll save about 135 calories and 3 grams of sugar. Plus, kombucha is a source of probiotics and antioxidants, making it a much healthier swap over the ginger beer, as outlined in a January 2019 Nutrients paper.
2. Instead of a Long Island Iced Tea, Try Our Pomegranate Iced Tea Mocktail
The traditional Long Island Iced Tea is more like a snack with its 250 calories and 19 grams of sugar per drink, thanks in part to the four different liquors it features.
This Dry January, skip the nasty morning-after headache and empty calories with our healthier, hangover-free Pomegranate Iced Tea beverage. This drink has just three ingredients — green tea, 100-percent pomegranate juice and fresh mint leaves — to create an earthy, low-sugar yet delicious mocktail with just 40 calories and 8 grams of sugar.
We know green tea is good for us but pomegranate juice is, too. A January 2017 meta-analysis published in Pharmacological Research looked at eight different studies and found that pomegranate juice was linked to reducing blood pressure.
Get the Pomegranate Ice Tea Mocktail recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Instead of a Gimlet, Try Our Kimmy Gimlet Mocktail
A traditional gimlet features gin, lime juice and simple syrup. Delicious? Yes. Dry January-approved? No.
The classic gimlet contains about 226 calories. Instead, try our healthier take with the Kimmy Gimlet. This drink, to be taken as a shot, combines fresh basil, fresh lime and maple syrup, which creates an intense flavor you'll love, and contains only 60 calories.
Muddling the basil leaves first helps to release the flavors of the herb so they'll blend with the lime juice and maple syrup. Basil boasts potent anti-inflammatory properties, according to a May 2019 paper published in Genes & Nutrition. Inflammation is thought to play a role in the development of many chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes per Harvard Health, so feel free to add this refresher to your weekly routine.
4. Instead of a Lemon Drop, Try Our Whole Lemon Spritzer
Lemon Drops — the shot and the cocktail — can be delicious but they're a far cry from being remotely healthy. The cocktail combines two ounces of vodka, a half-ounce of triple sec, one ounce of simple syrup and one ounce of fresh lemon juice, which provides 207 calories and 19 grams of sugar per drink. Yikes!
Instead, enjoy our healthier take with our Whole Lemon Spritzer. The refreshing drink features lemon, water, sparkling water and honey. Simple and delicious, and it only has 24 calories and 5 grams of sugar per mocktail. Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports our immune system and collagen production, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Get the Whole Lemon Spritzer recipe and nutrition info here.
- Health Psychology: "Voluntary Temporary Abstinence From Alcohol During “Dry January” and Subsequent Alcohol Use."
- National Sleep Foundation: "How Alcohol Affects the Quality—And Quantity—Of Sleep"
- Cleveland Clinic: "6 Surprising Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health — Not Just Your Liver"
- Nutrients: "Kombucha Beverage from Green, Black and Rooibos Teas: A Comparative Study Looking at Microbiology, Chemistry and Antioxidant Activity"
- Pharmacological Research: "Effects of Pomegranate Juice on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials"
- Genes & Nutrition: "Herbs and Spices- Biomarkers of Intake Based on Human Intervention Studies – A Systematic Review"
- Harvard Health: "Inflammation: A Unifying Theory of Disease?"
- National Institutes of Health: "Vitamin C"