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Happy New Year! Somehow, we blinked and it was…mid-January?! And yet, it feels like the holiday season — full of pandemic plot twists as it were — is still lingering. And if you’ve got more than a persisting holiday hangover, you may be considering a Dry January (er, Dry Rest Of January. It’s been a slow start, ok?!). Or maybe you’re not going full temperance movement, but are looking to mix in some non-alcoholic options into your cocktail hours. Well, you’ve come to the right place — we’ve pulled together a few reader favorites around town for mocktails and relaxing, non-spirited beverages. 

MOCKTAIL HOUR

It’s still possible (and vital) to support local bars and restaurants through Dry January — this year’s Omicron-laden December put a dampener on the usually profitable holiday season, leaving city restaurants in need. Check out one of these spots offering creatively designed cocktails and mocktails!

Kashkaval Garden (852 9th Ave bw W55/56th Street)

Kashkaval Garden, 9th Avenue’s tasty Mediterranean tapas go-to, is offering a set of specialty Mocktails priced at $8 each — good for the liver and the wallet! Try a Ginger Cranberry Mockmule (cranberry, ginger beer, lime) or a Winter Spiced Orange Mocktail (squash cordial, orange, cinnamon, anise, spice) with a Tapas Sampler for Two (you can select the sampler sans wine) and you’ve got a nourishing and satisfying dinner date.

Dolly Varden (302 W51st St — west of 8th Ave)

Opened in 2020, Dolly Varden is a welcome addition to Hell’s Kitchen and an ideal place to grab a pre- or post-theater drink from their award-winning cocktail program. Their mocktails are equally beloved (recommended by W42ST readers Barbara Isenberg and Savannah Wu) and feature a nice variety of flavor profiles, and as is Dolly’s signature, they’re beautifully presented. Try a Diamond Handcuff (cucumber, mint, citrus, soda), Loco Motive (passionfruit flavors with soda), Grand Central (tart and sour peach, lemon, sugar), or The Real McCoy (lime rickey with aromatic hibiscus) for a bespoke cocktail experience and a clear head the next morning! As Isenberg mentions, “They have a small but excellent menu of NA cocktails that taste and look amazing. If you don’t mention they’re NA, no one but you will know!”

Cedric’s at the Shed (545 W30th Street bw 10/11th Ave)

Danny Meyer’s groovy, retro-meets-Hudson-Yards-modern cocktail joint at The Shed is already a reliable place to sip on a Golden Hour (bourbon, lemon, honey) and snack on marinated olives. But thanks to loyal W42ST reader Jess Judd’s tip, we now know that most of Cedric’s well-loved cocktails can be re-made as mocktails — we spoke with a bartender at Cedric’s to confirm and they recommended trying the No Track of Thyme (gin rickey, raspberry syrup, and water). 

Most of Cedric’s well-loved cocktails can be re-made as mocktails.

Marseille (630 9th Ave — corner of W44th Street)

This French eatery recently featured on our guide to NYC Restaurant Week in Hell’s Kitchen, and is already famous for its cocktail and wine program. They also offer a refreshing series of lemonades (strawberry, mint, or basil) and an Elderflower Spritzer mocktail (elderflower, soda, lemon) recommended by reader Eliza Zarr. Try one paired with their Vegetable Couscous for a fulfilling and nutritious meal!

Add a virgin Bloody Mary to the brunch lineup. Photo: Friedman’s Instagram.

Friedman’s (450 10th Ave — corner of W35th Street)

Friedman’s, a dependably tasty choice for brunch, offers a Virgin Bloody Mary that W42ST reader Sheri Barnes described as, “One of the best tangy, spicy, juicy Bloody Marys I’ve ever tasted. A great morning eye-opener. Can’t wait until February to add the booze!” And while you’re at Friedman’s, try a Challah Avocado Toast with poached eggs and chili flakes.

The Orchard Townhouse (242 10th Ave — corner of W24th St)

This delightful Chelsea spot adjacent to the High Line is known for its elevated New American fare (and actual townhouse apartments available to rent above the restaurant). Enjoy a refreshing Cucumber Cooler (Seedlip garden, cucumber, pressed lime, agave, saline, soda) that would pair well with their raw seafood tower. 

Crave Fishbar (428 Amsterdam Ave and 945 2nd Ave) may best be known as New York’s first 100% sustainable seafood restaurant, but in addition to their excellent happy hour raw bar and enviable Nashville-style fish tacos, both the UWS and Midtown East locations feature a well-curated cocktail and mocktail program. Try a Blueberry Fauxjito (blueberry puree, lime juice, mint) or the Cucumber Lemonade (muddled cucumber, lemon juice, agave) before diving into some handmade squid ink spaghetti or fusilli with Jonah Crab. 

Special Effects, the grooviest non-alcoholic beer in town. Photo: Brooklyn Brewery website

Brooklyn Brewery (79 N 11th St — corner of Wythe Ave, Brooklyn) Looking for a change of scenery? Hop on the train down to Brooklyn Brewery’s Williamsburg tasting room, for all of the charm and camaraderie of a pub without the alcohol. Brooklyn Brewery’s first non-alcoholic beer collection, Special Effects, features carefully reconstructed versions of their classic IPA, hoppy amber, hazy amber, and pilsner flavors in equally jaunty cans. 

Dirty Precious (317 3rd Ave — corner of 1st Street, Brooklyn) is the place to take your friends when you want to show them you still know how to be cool. This intensely casual, hip cocktail bar whose motto is “Life is short. Take big gulps” not only has a well-designed cocktail menu (to return to in February!) but also two popular mocktails, the Red Hook Rising (grapefruit juice, blackcurrant, fizzy water) and the Where’s My Mocktail?!?! (ginger, mint, lemon, bitters, cucumber, spritz). Go here when you can’t get into The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. Again. 

GET JUICED

If you’re looking less for mocktails than for a tasty cocktail substitute, may we suggest becoming a juice person for January? Yes, it still has (natural) sugars in it, blah blah blah…let us have some joy! Life is short! Juice is tasty! 

Reader David Sachs likes Galaxy Diner (665 9th Ave — corner of W46th Street) — here’s their recommendation: “When everyone else is going for boozy brunch, you can go and get a spinach, carrot, and celery juice, which pairs perfectly with Eggs Benedict! You can custom combine from a whole list of fruit and veg. They make it fresh to order and it makes a huge difference vs pre-prepared juices! I have so much energy after having one of these — sometimes I’ll specifically go there to get a juice when I’m feeling like I need a pick-me-up!” And if the prospect of choosing a good produce combo overwhelms you, you can always try one of Galaxy Diner’s pre-approved menu combinations like Carrot/Apple/Celery or Apple/Lemon/Ginger. 

If you don’t have time for a sit-down meal, head a block over to Healthy Corner Juice Bar (637 9th Ave — corner of W45th Street), a cheerful bodega and market stand full of easy to-go snacks and freshly blended juices!

Reader Ellen Ko recommends heading west to the excellent Mexican restaurant Tulcingo Del Valle (665 10th Ave — bw W46/47th Street), which has been delighting Hell’s Kitchen for over 20 years. “The fresh grapefruit juice at Tulcingo Del Valle is phenomenal! I don’t know how they make it taste so good! I asked if they add anything and they said it’s just grapefruit but WOW!! There is some magic in there!” Go for the magical grapefruit juice, stay for the Pollo Asado soup!

We can’t talk about the Hell’s Kitchen food scene without mentioning Fresh From Hell (326 W47th Street bw 8/9th Ave), a cafe and juice bar where everything is meticulously made from scratch, down to the almond and coconut milk in their smoothies! Try their Hellth Insurance (Lemon, cayenne pepper, Fuji apple, ginger, filtered water) for a spicy kick or a Hell’s Kitchener (Carrot, ginger, apple) for a slightly milder but still tangy vibe. 

So you’ve decided that 2022 is the year you start lifting. You’ve signed up for one of our local reader-recommended gyms, and you’re actually going! You’ve heard trainers talk about getting enough calories to fuel those “gains”, but have no idea where to start beyond…eating a bunch of pizza??? Head over to Fuel Grill & Juice Bar (683 9th Ave — north of W47th Street) for “high-quality, protein-rich, nutritious meals with half the carbs.” Try a Popeye’s Arm’s Juice (broccoli, celery, parsley, spinach, and cucumber) and their Muscle Wrap (four egg whites and grilled chicken breast with sauteed spinach, whole wheat wrap) to complete your Hulk transformation in the tastiest way possible.

Need even more protein? Doing a Whole 30 and looking for a little variety beyond your daily eggs? Restaurant CEO Robert Guarino recommends heading to his own place, 5 Napkin Burger (630 9th Ave — corner of W45th Street), and sampling their special-edition Lifestyle Burger. Says Guarino, “Every January I skip alcohol, but also sugar, gluten, grains and dairy as part of a Whole 30. The lifestyle burger is a fully compliant and super satisfying meal choice for anyone doing Whole 30.”

It helps when you’re the boss and can get what you want on the menu — check out this 5NB Lifestyle Burger.

And if you’d rather run in the other direction from Whole30, reader Michael Miller recommends the donut ice cream sandwich from Holey Cream (791 9th Ave bw W52/53rd St). As he mentions, “…being January, it’s still cold by the time you get home.” We applaud your strategy, Michael!

And if all you can think about is what you’ll do when Dry January is over — pay it forward to Future You and support our local restaurants in one fell swoop by purchasing a gift card to use later on. You’ll be giving neighborhood eateries some much-needed revenue in the slowest month of the year, and even though you’ll have technically paid for it already, dinner or happy hour in February will sure feel free!! Remember you can check out all the best places in the neighborhood on the W42ST Local App.

WORK FROM HOME, DRINK FROM HOME

If part of the Dry January plan is to find replacements for your after-work pandemic apartment cocktail, the good news is that there are many tasty substitutes with just as much celebratory ritual and more pizazz than cracking open another La Croix.

Upgrading your sparkling water game is easy with Recess, a wildly popular new sparkling beverage infused with CBD (here labeled as hemp), real fruit flavor, and adaptogens to give you the zen of a cocktail buzz without the hangover. Sip on a coconut lime flavor backed by the calming powers of hemp, brain-boosting buzz of ginseng, the relaxing nudge of amino l-theanine, and lemon balm as a citrusy balancer. Recess has become so ubiquitous that you can purchase it everywhere from the grocery store to the corner bodega — reader Diana Kusko tells us it’s available near her at the bodega at 9th Ave and W49th St as well as The Market @ Mercedes House on W54th Street bw 10/11th Ave.

So, does Recess really work? Is it a hype-filled placebo or a genuine Dry January miracle? Well, we won’t pretend that it’s a 1:1 substitute for a strong margarita, but we can tell you that it tastes good and has chilled out a few chronically-stressed New Yorkers. It’s us, we’re the New Yorkers!

Do you want your happy hour beverage to taste less like soda and more like, well, alcohol? Check out Athletic Brewing Company, dedicated to making craft non-alcoholic brews with the same taste profile as their alcoholic cousins, beer. After crafting over 100 homebrews, founders Bill Shufelt and John Walker opened the only two dedicated non-alcoholic breweries in the world (in Stratford, CT and San Diego, CA). Athletic releases IPAs, goldens, and sours, as well as seasonal flavors, some of which are available in their Dry January Party Pack. Snag one and throw a non-kegger for you and your Dry January comrades!

The Dry January Party Pack. Photo: Athletic Brewing Company

And if you’re itching to go out instead, stop by Pocket Bar (455 W48th St — corner of 10th Ave) and Back Pocket Bar (462 W 49th St — corner of 10th Ave) where owner Suzy Darling is stocking plenty of Athletic Brewing beer and guarantees a great Dry January ambiance: “Pocket Bar — where your January can be as dry as our humor.”

Enjoy your AB NA beer with a side of shark at Back Pocket Bar. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Are you passing Dry January by longingly watching Sideways? Pop open a bottle of Surely, the chicly packaged non-alcoholic wine specially sourced from the finest California grapes and carefully dealcoholized. Since Surely uses the same grapes reserved for alcoholic wine, you get the same antioxidant benefits without any headaches! 

Surely you’ll try a glass. Photo: Surely website.

So where should you pick up all of your new non-alcoholic goodies? Lucky for you, New York is home to several specialty non-liquor beverage shops. Head to Nolita to check out Spirited Away (177 Mott St — corner of Broome St), a “zero-proof” booze shop full of non-alcoholic mixers and substitutes that opened in late 2020. Owner Douglas Watters decided to found Spirited Away after finding that he enjoyed the pandemic ritual of fixing an evening cocktail, but didn’t want to drink every day — instead, he took up the mantle of sourcing the world’s best mocktail ingredients and has since collected an admirable bevy of beverage must-haves. And yes, Spirited Away carries both Athletic Brewing beers and Surely wines!

If you had a great time at mocktail hour in Brooklyn, head over to Minus Moonshine (433 Sterling Place — corner of Washington Ave, Brooklyn), boasting “Dry Drinks and Potions”. Grab some satisfying aperitifs and mixers from this Latina and Nonbinary-owned shop before hitting up the weekly Grand Army Plaza farmer’s market for a truly wholesome and tasty outing. 

Spirit-free shop Boisson has quickly franchised itself — with five New York locations, it’s easier than ever to pick up mocktail supplies on your way home. Swing by the Upper West Side location (326 Columbus Ave bw W74/75th St) to find a large selection of pre-made mocktails, liquor alternatives, and non-alcoholic wine and beer — and be sure to try reader Emily McGill’s favorite brand, Curious Elixirs. You may find yourself stocking your bar with their wares long after January!

So whether you plan on a quick Dry January challenge or are considering weaving mocktails into your life all year round, we hope this helps you on your journey! We’ll see you in Central Park tomorrow for a 6am jog! Just kidding. Cheers!

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