Seltzers, syrups and bitters!
It’s Thursday afternoon. The slow slide into the weekend has begun. And your fingers are itching to wander across your bar cart and mix a little something to celebrate making it through another week.
Not so fast, friend. It’s Dry January.
Thirty-one days of conscious sobriety may seem daunting at first, but don’t worry: we’ve got you. Build up your booze-free bar with these must-have mixers and elixirs to help stay the course.
First things first: stock up on the mocktail holy grail, seltzer and sparkling waters. Run-of-the-mill seltzer waters can be dressed up in all kinds of ways, but there is a veritable rainbow of fancy-schmancy flavors to explore. If you’re winding down for the night, look for naturally flavored or essenced options like Spindrift — the orange-mango flavor is perfect for pretending it’s still summer — or La Croix. There are even options like Recess, which is infused with CBD and ginseng to promote clarity and calm.
If you want to take your seltzer to the next level, consider a simple syrup. A basic simple syrup will add a splash of sweetness, but why stop there?! From spicy black Thai chile to herbaceous rosemary-clove to citrusy-sweet lemongrass, there’s no shortage of flavorful combinations to ponder. If you don’t have time to make your own — after all, there’s quarantine sourdough starter to perfect — check out Proof or Root 23, a small-batch syrups producer whose flavors include cherry almond, grapefruit basil and cucumber habanero.
Bitters are a bartender’s bestie. The herbs, spices and botanicals result in a complex combination of flavors and aromas that add depth and an elemental bitterness to any drink. While bitters do technically contain alcohol, a few drops in your non-alcoholic nightcap still comply with Sober October rules of conduct. Dram Apothecary, Fee Brothers and Strongwater all offer amazing elixirs that will take your sparkling water from just fizzy to downright zizzy.
A shrub is basically just vinegar, sugar and a fresh herb, fruit or veg that’s been heated up and then left to stew in its own juices. The result makes for a refreshing, somewhat-tart, somewhat-sweet addition to — you guessed it — seltzer and soda waters. Plus, they’re even reported to aid digestion, stabilize blood sugars and detoxify your liver. We can’t get enough of this concoction of pears, ginger, honey and peppercorn (yes, peppercorn!) from A Bar Above; if you’re going the retail route, try Cascade Shrub Farm, Element or Som shrubs.
Mocktails are loads better with fruit juices and other fresh mixers. But instead of reaching for a carton of OJ, try stocking your fridge with ginger beer, aloe vera juice, kombucha or infused herbal teas. Is variety truly the spice of life? There’s only one way to find out!