Drynuary for Hungry Again

Pomegranate Mocktail

This January, I tried something that I haven’t done since I was pregnant with my last baby. A month of sobriety. It’s known as Drynuary, but let’s just call this my Month of Drinking Club Soda.

Why Drynuary?

Drynuary is the practice of pledging to abstain from alcohol for the entire month of January. It is a trend started in Great Britain, but is growing in popularity here in the states. Most people use it as a sort of secular Lent ritual, fasting from booze for a month to re-set the body and mind and to give your poor liver a rest after the non-stop partying of November and December. And although most people won’t admit it, it’s also a way to gut-check your dependence on alcohol.

I decided to try Drynuary after reading an article in Slate just after New Year. The writer told of his own journey over the last eight years, using the annual January abstinence to clear his mind and body. Something about it struck me at the time. After three months of socializing and parties, it sounded like a challenge that I should take. It was a few days after celebrating New Year’s Eve and I was figuratively feeling the hangover of too much food and drink during the holidays. Drinking was feeling more like a habit and less like a pleasure. I was ready for a break. I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it through to the end of the month, to be honest.   

So, how was not drinking for a month?

Actually, not bad at all. I replaced the nightly glass of wine with club soda and lime. I also drank more herbal tea before bedtime. I drank lots of variations of sparkly water on the weekends. Club soda with blood orange. Club soda with lime and orange bitters. Club soda with pomegranate juice. Club soda with club soda. I stayed very hydrated this month.

Going booze-free for a month was painless on most weekdays. It was easy to give up my nightly glass (or two) of wine or beer with dinner. It got a bit harder on the weekend nights though, when I was socializing with my friends. When you’re around other people who are drinking and having a good time, you can feel the tug of longing for a cocktail or a couple of glasses of wine. Everyone, of course, was very supportive of my sobriety. I don’t think my presence slowed anyone else down, and I got offers of cups of tea and club soda to keep me happy. After the first couple of weekends, I honestly didn’t miss my cocktails all that much.

And what positives came out of a month of not drinking? Thrillingly, I lost weight. I guess those glasses of empty calories really do add up. I also just felt lighter and more clear-headed. Our restaurant bills were a lot smaller this month, especially since Tim tried to hold down his drinking this month in solidarity with me. I also have left behind that feeling of antsiness when cocktail hour rolled around each night. Booze. Eh…I can take it or leave it.

But that’s not to say that I’ve stopped drinking for good. This year, February 1st falls on a Sunday… Super Bowl Sunday. So, I plan on breaking my booze fast by having a few beers to celebrate. It should be interesting to see how my body reacts to alcohol after a month away from drinking. Going forward, I’ll continue to have my Friday Cocktails, my social hours with my friends and the occasional celebratory glasses of wine. Just…not so much (or at all) during the middle of the week. So, here’s to more mindful and moderate drinking for the rest of the year. Cheers!

And here’s a mocktail to keep you more festive during your own sobriety…

Pomegranate Mocktail

8 oz. Club Soda or sparkling water
2 oz. pomegranate juice (like Pom)
the juice of one lime
2 dashes of orange bitters

Pour all ingredients over ice. Mix and enjoy!

Pomegranate Mocktail for Drynuary

Pomegranate Mocktail for Drynuary

 

Pegu Club Cocktail

Pegu Club Cocktail

Like many classic gin cocktails, the Pegu Club Cocktail has its origins in the British Colonial Empire. The cocktail was named after the original Pegu Club in Rangoon, Burma – part of the British Empire during Victorian times and now, independent present-day Myanmar. The Pegu Club was a gentleman’s club that catered to the senior British military officers stationed there. The Prince of Wales and George Orwell both dined there. The British writer Rudyard Kipling stopped in on his brief visit to Rangoon and observed that…

“The Pegu Club seemed to be full of men on their way up or down, and the conversation was but an echo of the murmur of conquest far away to the north.”1

To me, this makes it sound like some backwater of the Empire, with officers biding their time before moving on to greater colonial glories in India.

During World War II, the Japanese took control of Rangoon and the Pegu Club, ending the British Empire’s presence there. Its legend lives on today through its signature drink – the Pegu Club cocktail, a refreshing combination of gin, Orange Curaçao, fresh lime juice and bitters. 

The Pegu Club in Rangoon, Burma

The Pegu Club in Rangoon, Burma – home of the Pegu Club Cocktail

The Pegu Club Cocktail

Pegu Club Cocktail calls for a London Dry-style gin, such as Gordon’s, Tanqueray or Bombay.  The London Dry is the style most familiar to American gin drinkers. It has the classic juniper and citrus taste that we associate with gin. As the name implies, it is very dry and light. Curaçao is a liqueur made from the fragrant peel of the laraha fruit, which was cultivated from the Valencia orange on the Southern Caribbean island of Curaçao. It is naturally clear, but color is added – blue for Blue Curaçao or orange for Orange Curaçao. You’ll see it often in tiki drinks, such as the Kamikaze or the Mai Tai.

Pegu Club Cocktail - gin, bitters and Orange Curaçao

Pegu Club Cocktail – gin, bitters and Orange Curaçao

Pegu Club Cocktail

2 oz London Dry Gin
3/4 oz Orange Curaçao (you can substitute with Cointreau)
1/2 oz lime juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled. Pour into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange or grapefruit twist.

1 Rudyard Kipling, From Sea to Sea, and Other Travel Sketches, Letters of Travel (1899)