Virgin Mary

What to actually drink during Dry January

Soda, so good

So you’re doing Dry January! You’re a week in and so far you’ve only slipped up twice – once licking the filling out of a liqueur chocolate, once chewing on your mate’s gin-soaked lemon slice. Your skin is glowing, your liver is beginning to sparkle. You’re a hero.

But while at least half the success of a month off the booze lies in telling as many people as possible about it, the other half is in finding the perfect virgin tipple to keep you hydrated without dying of boredom down the pub – or rinsing your funds just as badly as corner shop rosé. At first, Coke or Diet Coke seems like the obvious choice. But once you’re three glasses down, your teeth are squeaking, the caffeine shakes have kicked in and you’re being marshalled outside by a concerned bouncer, you decide there must be a better alternative to get you through the month.

Is there, though? That’s the million dollar* (*£1.50) question.

There’s fruit juice, obviously. But who wants to spend a night sloshing about with a stomach full of Tropicana? You’re not on holiday, this is not an all-inclusive breakfast buffet. Drink cranberry and everyone assumes you have cystitis; drink J20 and it’s like you’re 17 again, bottling it in the village pub because the barmaid knows your mum. Meanwhile those posh bottles of ginger beer are all well and good until you read the sugar content and realise you may as well have ordered a sticky toffee pudding. Which leads us to another option: just order a sticky toffee pudding.

Then of course, there’s soda and lime. Soda and lime is a solid teetotal drinks order; it’s zesty, it’s pleasingly pub-specific, it’s a drink with noble history. You can go for fresh lime if you’re feeling all Hemsley sister, or cordial to pretend it’s a Robinsons Fruit & Barley. Plus there’s the element of surprise when it comes to price; will it be free, 50p, or somehow £2.99? Nobody knows!

But if you’re in need of something more exciting to whet your whistle till February 1st, here are a few genuinely tasty options. None of them is tap water, we promise.


1. A blessed virgin

It’s Sunday, everyone else is hanging and you feel left out. The answer? A virgin Mary. Ideal when you’re sick of sweet drinks, it ticks multiple boxes by being a) non-alcoholic, b) probably one of your five a day, especially if you eat the celery stick and c) practically lunch. Your mum will be proud.



2. Just the tonic

When you’re missing the taste of alcohol, sugary juice is rarely going to hit the spot – but the bitter, botanical punch of tonic water really does. Trust us. It’s not something you’d ever think of drinking on its own, but that’s kind of the point. Like the Ant and Dec of the booze cabinet, we’re so used to tasting the two together that when you take a sip of tonic water, chances are your brain will go “hey, gin!” 



3. Posh pop

Thanks to the rise in clean-living Gen Z-ers, fancy fizz doesn’t just mean Schloer anymore. If you’ve heard the word “kombucha” but previously thought it was a hipster sneeze, now’s the time to get to know the foodie’s favourite health brew. Made from fermenting tea, it’s naturally effervescent and tastes just gross enough to make you feel like a grown up again. Find it in your local organic shop, or if you’re feeling really committed/bored, try making your own.  



4. Fire juice

We wouldn't tell you to drink green juice in January, we're not that cruel. But this is something different. Full disclosure: Mexican verdita is traditionally drunk with tequila – but the luminous green coriander, mint, lime, pineapple and chilli juice has enough going on to distract you, promise. Whizz up a jug at your next house party and you’ll be dancing round your hat all night.



5. Near beer

Once upon a time, everyone would tell you that boozeless beer tasted of sadness and pig swill. But not anymore! These days craft breweries are taking as much care with their soft ales as they do with the hard stuff, and it shows. Try Brewdog’s beautifully hoppy Nanny State, St Peter’s citrusy Without Gold, or any of the offerings from Nirvana, the UK’s first totally non-alcoholic brewery. This month, it might just be the closest to heaven you’ll get.