Dryuary

We’ve laid another year to rest, and our communities are abuzz with “new year, new me” proclamations. Whole30 diets. Juice cleanses. New gym memberships. And, admittedly, my least favorite of all: DRYuary.

Now, I am not talking about going sober for the impactful, necessary reasons needed to shift the course of one’s life — bravo to those folks, and don’t let any of my shit-talking get into your earholes. In fact, y’all probably don’t read my column anyway. Dryuary, or Sober January, is the ritual in which folks take off time, a month to be exact, from imbibing and going out. And, why not January, after the bourbon-soaked holidays? When the bitter cold rolls around, and there’s not much going on in town, and wallets are thin and our dear livers often need a break. It makes sense, really, but I’ve taken issue with Dryuary since the concept infiltrated my friend group, because I’m a January baby and, selfishly, I want folks to help me celebrate my birthday. All right, enough of my complaints, let’s end Dryuary with a bang, whether we’re sober or sloshed.

Many bars and restaurants feel the pain from Dryuary, as well, whether folks are staying home to adhere to their sober January vows, or to save money or to eat healthier and cook more. These are all January things, I tell you. It never fails, once the first month of the year rolls around, the concerned rumblings of bar staffs begin to echo, as well. “If this keeps up, I’m going to have to look for another job,” said the barkeep, and proprietors begin to look for ways to cut costs, as well. It’s something we as industry folk should know is coming and prepare for, but that doesn’t make it any less painless.

My friend, Olivia Griffin, owner of The Limbo tiki bar, has seen the decline in sales this month, so she organized a bar crawl for industry folk. “I pledge to hit twice as many bars, drink twice as much, and tipping will be on point!” she proclaimed on social media.

Brilliant idea, I thought, and committed to joining her on this quest.

Olivia added that, perhaps folks should take their hiatus during a busy month, maybe during the summer, “or January should be National Mocktail Month,” she said.

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Mocktails are a brilliant solution for the issue at hand. The Limbo tiki bar can make any of their cocktails spirit free, or “zero proof,” as The Mocktail Project calls these booze-less delicious creations, and so can many other bars in our community. The Mocktail Project is a local movement encouraging bars and restaurants to “develop intentional beverage menus that can be enjoyed by everyone,” which fosters an inclusive environment for drinkers and nondrinkers (or Dryuary participants) alike. Perhaps, all January, we can push mocktail specials in our establishments.

The Mocktail Project did host Mocktober, a weeklong charitable event dedicated to mocktail creation in October, which raised funds for alcohol abuse recovery, and some heavy hitters in the beverage community were involved. Butchertown Grocery, Mr. Lee’s and Alex&nder — folks at these places can create a mocktail to rival any boozy libation. It goes to show, you can still patronize your favorite locales and get an incredible zero-proof beverage whilst giving your liver a break.

Mocktails are wonderful, and so many are breaking the mold when it comes to the concept (these are not your average kiddie cocktails), but for my friends who have participated in Dryuary, where are you celebrating come Jan. 31?

Ring in the new month with me at one of my favorite haunts, The Outlook Inn for my RIP Sober January event sponsored by Stolen Spirits (full disclosure, I’m a dealer for Stolen Spirits, so this is a shameless plug). Beginning at 9 p.m. and through midnight, you can enjoy special prices on Stolen Smoked Rum and Whiskey, and if you participated in Dryuary or were affected by it as an industry worker, I may just buy you a drink on Stolen. If that’s not enough of a draw to break your month-long fast, Stolen will donate $1 from each drink sold to Apron, Inc., an organization helping employees of Louisville’s restaurant community susceptible to financial distress in times of crisis (health issues, hardships, etc.).

Let’s say hello to February with a buzz, shall we? Cheers!

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