Every year, January kicks off a season of New Year’s resolutions, plans to meal prep, new gym memberships, and other self-improvement goals. And for a growing number of people, that also includes giving up alcohol.
Dry January, the idea of beginning the new year alcohol-free, got its start ten years ago as a public health initiative in Britain. Since then, it’s gone global, with as many as 13% of Americans taking a short break from spirits. Benefits include better sleep, more energy, and more mindfulness around alcohol consumption during the rest of the year.
But temporary temperance doesn’t mean sipping Shirley Temples until February. The Vitamix Culinary Team created these tasty zero-alcohol cocktails so you can skip the watered-down substitutes and enjoy the full flavor of grown-up drinks.
How do you keep the flavor but lose the liquor? “You’re removing alcohol, so you’re removing the main component of what makes a drink delicious,” says Matt Dugan, Vitamix’s Corporate Executive Chef of Culinary Experience. To replace alcohol’s kick, Dugan had to get creative.
In the Zero Proof Cucumber Gimlet, Dugan substituted champagne vinegar for gin or vodka. Like some vinegars, champagne vinegar is made from wine but doesn’t contain alcohol. Adding a touch of vinegar elevates this mocktail by adding a sour/umami punch that more than makes up for the missing alcohol.
Dugan, who’s been with Vitamix for 9 years, knew he wanted to be a chef ever since he was a little boy. Growing up in Lima, Ohio, Dugan learned his way around the kitchen helping his grandfathers. One was a former Navy cook who included Matt in preparing family meals; the other owned golf courses where Matt helped out with the clubhouse menu. As his confidence in his cooking skills grew, so did his curiosity about how different flavors and textures combined for a palate-pleasing dish.
That willingness to experiment is how Dugan and his team were able to ditch the alcohol and amp up the flavor in the Zero Proof Espresso Orange Tonic. The unexpected pairing of coffee and citrus wakes up the taste buds while the tonic’s fizz gives this non-alcoholic drink a crisp finish. An added bonus? This drink will impress your friends because it’s on trend. “Tonic and espresso aren’t something that normally go together,” says Dugan, “but you’re seeing effervescence come to play with coffee drinks like nitro cold brews and sparkling coffee.”
All three mocktails get a flavor assist from the way they’re made, and that’s definitely true for the Zero Proof Lemongrass Jasmine Iced Tea. “With a tough, fibrous plant like lemongrass, you want to extract as much flavor as possible,” Dugan advises. “In order to do that,” he says, “you need a high performance piece of equipment, like a Vitamix. This will ensure you pulverize the plant to extract as much of the essential oil as possible.”
Another way of extracting maximum flavor is the Aer Disc Container. “We chose savory drinks over fruity to show off the Vitamix Aer Disc Container,” Dugan says. The Aer Disc’s patent-pending design pulls liquid ingredients through small holes in the spinning disc, aerating and emulsifying them; while firmer ingredients like are agitated but not puréed. And, if you’ve ever muddled the mint in multiple mojitos, you’ll also appreciate how easy the Aer Disc Container makes large batches of drinks as if crafted by hand.
So raise a glass — filled with one of these yummy libations — and toast yourself for doing Dry January deliciously.