Of course, the holiday season is a time of year when some of our fondest lifelong memories may be formed. However, by the time January rolls around, it’s no surprise that most of us are feeling exhausted (with a capital E) and are cheersing for a bit of a refresh, reset, and relax moment.
Unsurprisingly, one of the first things many people choose to cut back on in the new year is alcohol. (IYKYK: Starting the new year with a throbbing hangover-induced headache is one serious form of inspiration.)
A 2022 national survey revealed that up to 35 percent of drinking-age U.S. adults abstained from booze during the month of January, a commitment commonly referred to as “Dry January.” In the most recent episode of The Well+Good Podcast, Taylor Camille, the pod's host and director, spoke with master distiller Morgan McLachlan and co-founder (along with Katy Perry) of the alcohol-alternative beverage company, De Soi, to reflect on our culture's relationship with alcohol, its impact on social gatherings, and why we may want to consider extending Dry January into Dry Everuary this year.
Listen to the full podcast episode here:
What are the benefits of Dry January and going alcohol-free for the rest of the year?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a large body of research shows that there are both short- and long-term benefits for your physical and mental health when you go alcohol-free or reduce your alcohol consumption. Said benefits include (but are not limited to) better sleep quality and liver functioning, boosted energy levels, improvements in mood and concentration levels, and lower blood pressure.
On the flip side, the AHA says that “excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages can increase the risk for high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, liver disease, depression, suicide, and accidents.”
While experts caution that the majority of long-term benefits of going alcohol-free won’t happen overnight—or in just a month, for that matter—every effort counts significantly. And even in the short term, the improvements you'll notice in your energy, mood, and anxiety levels are very real.
There are delicious options for those looking to cut back on alcohol
It’s no secret that cutting out alcohol cold turkey might be difficult for some, as drinking has been heavily intertwined with culture, social, and even spiritual gatherings for centuries. “Most people don't have an alcohol dependency, but they have a little bit of just a habit of reaching for that beverage as a way to unwind or as a way to mark a moment in the day,” McLachlan says.
And while many may have a seemingly relaxed relationship with the occasional weeknight glass of Pinot to unwind after a long day, McLachlan says that you can find similarly soothing benefits from De Soi’s range of non-alcoholic apéritifs made with natural adaptogens, which can have a calming effect on the central nervous system. (Not the mention, zero hangover the next day!)
So, where did the idea for De Soi come from? Turns out that McLachlan herself was searching for sophisticated, celebratory, alcohol-free drink options, and in the process, she landed on the idea of an alcohol-free apéritif. (Typically, an apéritif is a wine-based alcoholic beverage that is lower in alcohol than a cocktail and often includes a bitter component, like herbs.) According to McLachlan, this type of drink is usually consumed before dinner or a meal and is meant to prepare the stomach to receive food and get the digestive juices flowing.
When developing De Soi’s line of booze-free apéritifs, McLachlan took a mindful approach: She started by curating a list of functional adaptogenic botanical ingredients—like ashwagandha, rose, and reishi—that give you a “floaty, relaxed feeling.” Then, she married this soothe-inducing concept with the goal of doing something nice for yourself; something that feels like a little moment of pleasure without a drop of alcohol. (De Soi's sleek, luxe-looking packaging is a major value-add in this department.) The result? A wonderful way to imbibe while experiencing absolutely no hangover—or FOMO.
“I think one thing that's happening is people are sticking their toe into the world of abstaining from alcohol for even short periods of time, and they're discovering, ‘oh, actually went to that party and I had a great time and, and I woke up in the morning like fresh as a daisy the next day,’” McLachlan says.
Whether you’re embarking on your first-ever Dry January journey or are looking for the perfect alcohol-free party drink, check out the full podcast episode to learn more ways to take the first step to practice mindful drinking with the help of a booze-free *but still guaranteed-good-time* drink in hand.
For more information on the long-term health benefits of curtailing your alcohol intake and alcohol-free cocktail ideas, listen to the full podcast episode here.
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