Mad About Midtown: New Year, New Brew — Crushing Dry January

With the New Year officially upon us and condolences paid in full to our freshly pickled livers, my colleagues and I have piled on the Dry January bandwagon in earnest at our Midtown East branding agency. There’s power in numbers and only a select few among us have what it takes to go it alone (non-drinkers and pregnant people, we salute you), so we sat down as a team one surpassingly dehydrated lunch hour and hatched a plan. Sure, the debaucherous end-of-year office parties and beery familial cope-a-thons were all fun and games. That is, until the first week of January found us crawling out of our booze-addled dens into the harsh daylight like bedraggled disco rodents.

We candidly dove into logistics, sharing our concerns: would Drynuary entail that we all become quinoa-gobbling hermits huddled on yoga mats at home, listening to Enya? As far as we knew, the New Year’s trend of month-long abstinence from “the good stuff” was a relatively recent practice, taken up in the UK about a decade ago. Is it really even a thing, we wondered? The nerdiest among us quickly drummed up hard facts about what some have nicknamed “Dryathalon.” The first such formal initiative in Western history, “Sober January” took place in Finland, 1942, as a public campaign to bolster the war effort. My workmates pointed out that our reasons for hopping off the booze train are far less noble. We just want to debloat, reclaim our naturally boundless energy, and not feel bored, irritable or sad all the time due to chemical imbalance.

Since the holidays cannot be undone — and no regrets, people, the merriment of excess did seem like a good idea at the time — we collectively agreed to sweep up the shards of our fabulous, tinsel-strewn lives and piece them lovingly back together again. But how to enjoy the process in good company and style? Mocktails, mes amis. Nevermind that one responsible uncle’s “Near Beer,” these non-alcoholic mixed drinks are out for your palate as well as your own good. With a little investigation, on a dry-erase board hung proudly next to the water cooler, we brainstormed this killer shortlist of hot spots where the Midtown mocktail reigns supreme.

No longer just glorified fruit juice blends for adults, mocktails have taken on pedigree and panache at culinary hotspots like Grand Central Terminal’s Agern, where season-driven organic ingredient sourcing culminates in uniquely Nordic fare that will find its way to your heart via your stomach. Pull up to their chicly designed bar for an assortment of virgin libations, including the Shrub District with strawberry dill or blueberry basil, Hudson Standard spicy turmeric cocktails, the renowned Seedlip carrot martini whey or Agern’s own house imitation aquavit.

The Modern at MOMA is one of the hottest tickets in Midtown. Where else can you let the art intoxicate you before sitting down to sip on something as tastily crafted as it is zero-proof? Their ricey, spicy horchata, freshly juiced ginger with lime cordial (dubbed the Buck Lite) and zippy Cuzco Collins — a medley of Chicha Morada, lemon, and club soda are light years ahead of the Coca-Cola you thought you’d begrudgingly get stuck ordering all month long.

Still on a wild sobriety tear? The night is young. Head over to the NoMad Hotel bar on West 28th Street to partake in soft cocktails like Paradise City, with its blend of passion fruit, cream, and vanilla soda, or the kicky Peter Piper, which will responsibly quench your thirst with soupcons of lime, white balsamic, and pineapple. Order your Bumble date a delightful Yuzu Arnold Palmer and toast to your revamped immune system. Why rush? You’ve got the rest of 2019 to transgress together if things work out.