How to do Dry January & What to Drink Instead

Words by
Verity Casey

8th January 2023

Did you know Dry January celebrates 10 years of existence this month, and that January 16th is the day most people give up on their attempt at having a Dry January? To help keep you going, just when you might be considering throwing in the towel, SPHERE has enlisted the help of Verity Casey. Verity is the founder of the Truly Sober Company, and shares her hard-earned tips from four years of booze-free living via her Instagram and TikTok making her the ideal person to help us all stick at it until February 1. 

Why do Dry January?

Going sober for a month is a great way to lay the foundation for other things you want to achieve in 2023.  If you’ve decided to do Dry January, it will be for a reason that is personal to you. Maybe you’re feeling a bit toxified after Christmas and New Year festivities? Maybe your skin’s a bit puffy, your eyes less shiny than usual? Perhaps you’re also feeling not drinking would make you less anxious, more energetic? Hold onto those thoughts, because your gut feeling about alcohol’s effect on your body is 100% correct! Alcohol is a depressant, and can cause bodily inflammation, so taking a break from it will help you feel better, and look better, guaranteed. To do this the right way, you need to start with the right mindset. Here is what I know.

Verity Casey
Verity Casey is founder of The Truly Sober Company

Don’t begin your Dry January journey by setting yourself huge goals in work, health and fitness. This can set you up for failure. The best way to approach it is by taking your Dry January just one day at a time. Tell yourself you deserve a sober day, and that your body needs a sober day.  That way, if you slip,  you can start again the following day.  Starting and ending each day with a little pep talk works wonders for staying on track.

Morning: As you wake, before reaching for your phone, before speaking to anyone else,  tell yourself you are bright, brilliant and deserve a healthy body and a peaceful heart.  You have talent and intelligence and so much to give to the world. The universe wants to give you good things, your only payment to the universe is to stay sober for just this one day.  

Evening: Thank yourself for the sober day. You did it! You are winning! Write down a 5 point gratitude list, or longer.  Your gratitude can be as simple as noticing the blue sky, the smile from a barista, the cuddle from your child, the chat with a friend. Keep it simple, keep it precise and relevant. Before you go to sleep thank yourself for taking care of you today.  It works.

Plan It

Get rid of any booze in your house, and swap in some non-alcoholic versions of your favourite drinks, I’m partial to a Nogroni, made using Seedlip Spice 94 and Æcorn Bitters, which is satisfyingly bitter, and anything but a soft drink. Tell your friends and family you’re doing Dry January, and familiarise yourself with The Wise Bartender, a specialist non-alcoholic drinks retailer. London based readers can visit Club Soda in Drury Lane, which has a tasting room for low and non-alcoholic drinks, and offers courses in how to reduce your alcohol intake. Why not make an appointment to go there instead of going out to a pub or bar? That way you can hold yourself to account more easily, and have the support you need from those around you.

I also recommend signing up to a motivational app. I use “I Am Sober” which gives you motivational prompts every day, and – this is my favourite bit – it tells you how much money you are saving, reason enough to keep it going.  I also love Pep Talk, which I listen to every morning. Alcohol Change UK, the people who came up with Dry January in the first place, also have an app Try Dry, (and a book) specifically aimed at people who want to have a go at being booze free for a month.  

The Coral Room offers delicious non-alcoholic cocktails using Seedlip
Trick your triggers by choosing to drink adult cocktails without alcohol
Get Ahead of Your Triggers

Do you usually crack open a bottle of wine at 6pm? Or does walking into a pub or restaurant immediately turn on your desire for a delicious glass of Rioja or Chablis, or a cold beer? Acknowledging and getting ahead of your triggers means acting on what you know are deeply embedded habits in your daily life, and avoiding those moments by planning to do something else instead, rather than flail in confusion as your old routine calls out to you to be fulfilled.

Wine o’clock, for example, is easily replicated by choosing to drink something non-alcoholic - yet adult – at the same time, in the same glass, with similar rituals of enjoyment. My go-to for this is Marks & Spencer’s sparkling Rosé. If beer is more your thing, you can’t go wrong with Lucky Saint. I first discovered this at Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurant Nopi, and you can order by the case, meaning you have a full supply for the month. You will still get the sound of the drink being poured, and the familiar chink of the wine glass as it hits the table. All part of the drinking experience, but it can be part of the non-drinking experience too.

People are also a trigger. Choose this month to spend time people who don’t trigger you. It’s as much about taking a break from people who you socialise with, as it is to take a break from alcohol. Perhaps come away from noisy What’s App groups, and simply say you are using this month to focus on work. Seek out people, places and things that uplift you.

Noughty Sparkling Chardonnay
Noughty is a B-Corp Certified Company founded by Amanda Thomson, and its drinks are vegan, halal, and low sugar and zero alcohol
How to Handle Social Situations

One of the first things I look for at any party or event is whether the host has considered those who are not drinking. More often than not, they haven't. It's a common moan amongst the sober-ati.  So its gold stars all round when I see a bottle of Noughty's sparkling Chardonnay, or Three Spirit's Social Elixir on the bar - it contains lion’s mane mushroom, yerba mate and damiana for a herbal lift.  At parties, if there is nothing of offer, my strategy is to get myself a glass of something that looks like a gin & tonic, (I’m a big fan of the non-alcoholic gin, £18, from Caleno) and have the evening I want, on my terms, and leave when everyone gets a little the worse for wear. If I am socialising in a bar or pub, I go and get myself a drink first, and if anyone offers me one, I say I’m fine, thus avoiding the need for THAT conversation. 

For work events, plan ahead. My favourite party trick is to pick three people to engage with, and spend 10 minutes with each of them. Ask them about themselves (people love this!) and you’ve got yourself a goal before you get there, and don’t feel like a wallflower, or worse, a purposeless floater. Follow up with those three people the next day, which, I find, helps foster a sense of achievement. Choose your “Cinderella hour”, mine is 10pm.

Three Spirit
Three Spirit create non-alcoholic spirits that blend adaptogens, nootropics, herbs, distillates + ferments.
Beat those Pesky Cravings

Did you know a craving lasts a maximum of 15 minutes? I didn’t either when I started my journey into sobriety. But it’s true. Whether it’s for sugar, a cigarette, an alcoholic drink, or indeed anything else, a craving is a craving, and it is easy to defeat if you follow these simple steps. If you’re wanting a drink, break down the 15 minute crave window into three five minute sections. Say to yourself, “I’ll wait five minutes, and if I still want that drink, I’ll have it. Repeat three times, if you still have the desire, go for it, but chances are the craving will have passed, and that night you can thank yourself before going to bed, and wake up feeling clear the next morning.

Super Victory Tea at The Goring
The Goring offers this non-alcoholic cocktail, inspired by Winston Churchill featuring a blend of Everleaf Forest, raspberry syrup, cranberry juice, and citric solution, topped with Frankly & Sons grapefruit tonic.
Dare to Dig into the Clarity Dry January Will Bring

After a week or so, you’ll notice you wake up feeling brighter, more clear headed, less anxious, and more energetic. Use that buzzy energy for good in your life. Ask yourself what you love doing, and choose to do it, instead of what you think you “should” be doing

Use your clarity to do more of what you love – whether that’s joining a choir, picking up an instrument, going running, or spending time with people you haven’t seen for a while. If nothing comes up for you, sit quietly, and ask yourself without noise, distraction. “What will actually make me happy? Where does my creativity lie?"

It could be anything – give yourself the gift of digging deep into your happiness a bit.  What’s your secret thing? Let your secret thing play out in your life. Quietly get on with it. You don’t need to tell everyone, or indeed anyone, that you are doing Dry January. If you want to secretly give up booze, just do it!

Club Soda's HQ on Drury Lane
Club Soda recently opened Britain’s first non-alcoholic tasting room on Drury Lane, with 150 alcohol-free drinks to choose from