Those who don’t drink alcohol at all know that there are plenty of excellent non-boozy concoctions available out there. Hot chocolate, mulled cider, fresh juices, mocktails, interesting seltzers: The sky’s the limit.
For the rest of us—those who love that Old Fashioned on a cold winter night —a “Dry January” can be, depending on the person, tricky. Some are accustomed to the lilt of booze, and have come to associate it with the close of business, or getting the kids down for bed. Maybe you only have an hour or two to yourself before you have before you have to zonk out, too.
But you’re trying to cut back on booze for a bit, so get creative with your seltzer-based beverages. You don’t have plunk down for Polar or La Croix by the case (although there’s nothing wrong with that). With plain seltzer, there are lots of fun ways to amp it up in flavor-packed, easy, hydrating ways. Here are a few favorites.
1. Add fancy cherries.
Have you not done the trick yet when you dunk a couple of fancy Italian Marasca cherries—we love these sultry, barely sweet Luxardos—and drizzle a bit of their syrup into a frosty glass of seltzer? It’s a dream. If you want that cherry-lime rickey vibe, add a slice of lime and a bit more cherry syrup.
2. Make a Bitters & Bubbles
The “bits n bubs” order has become enormously popular at bars among those who don’t want a cocktail. It’s simply seltzer plus Angostura bitters—however many dashes you like. Its fans love it for disguising the fact that they’re not drinking booze (it takes on a tint from the bitters), if they don’t feel like facing friends’ questions. Because bitters have digestive properties, this is a lovely thing to consider after a big meal. And you can use any type of bitters you like—we’re partial to peach and orange—or even make your own!
3. DIY oleo saccharum
Have you made your own oleo saccharum yet? It sounds complicated, but it’s simply citrus peels—you were going to throw those out, anyways—mixed with a bit of sugar. Its Latin name means “oil sugar.” Left in the sun or a warm spot for a few hours (the exact recipe is here), the oils of the citrus peels begin to flavor the sugar, resulting in a super-aromatic, barely sweet oil that is a delight in spritzers. (A tiny bit goes a long way!) Use the peels to garnish your drink for the prettiest highball.
4. Add interesting juices
Maybe you’re already a lemonade fan, or you instinctively top off your O.J. with soda water, but what about all the other incredible winter citrus available to you right now? Whether it’s grapefruit juice, kumquats sliced for garnish, or a gorgeous splash of blood orange juice, the sky’s the limit when it comes to spritzers mixing juice and water—in whatever proportions you fancy.
5. Think savory
Whether you’re at the end of a batch of groceries or you’re just starting to work through a new one, free-associate the flavors you already love. Rosemary goes with lemon, as does thyme. Thyme goes with grapefruit. Grapefruit goes with ginger. Ginger goes with lemon, which goes with strawberry, which goes with vanilla, which goes with orange. (You’re starting to get it!) Whether you make simple syrups and spike them with a sprig of fresh rosemary or thyme—sturdy herbs are better for this—or you simply use a savory element as a garnish, it can add a satisfying bouquet and a knockout look to a finished drink. As is true of all of these options, if you’re happy with the flavor profile, you’re less likely to miss the booze.