Whether you’ve been in the DMV for 15 years or are brand new to town, one thing is certain: D.C. has become a wellspring of booze-free sips. But it wasn’t always this way.
I started my time in Washington fresh out of college in 2005, bar-hopping, rabble-rousing and getting lit regularly. But two years into my time here, I faced a stark reality: My life was spiraling down the drain. After getting hospitalized for alcohol poisoning twice in 18 months, I checked myself into an intensive outpatient program for substance use disorder.
Starting out as a 24-year-old Sober Sally in 2007 wasn’t a walk in the park. With no social media for connection or unique zero-proof sips, my options were limited. But as time passed and I got more comfortable in my sobriety, I knew I wanted to be a catalyst for change. So I launched Booze Free in DC, a way people could explore the DMV through a wellness and booze-free lens.
As we head into 2021, #dryjanuary gives us all the opportunity to take a quick, or long, break from booze. Whether you’re looking to stock your bar cart with #madeindc, ready-to-drink craft beverages sans booze or wanting to sip on zero-proof cocktails, here’s a few of our top five lists for what to drink when you’re not drinking.
#ZEROPROOF COCKTAILS IN THE DMV
For those who want to get their sip on via takeout, delivery or outdoor dining.
“Imagine the subtle spice and vegetal-ness of green pepper, the bite of pine and the unctuousness of coconut set against the background of cinnamon and orange-driven cola,” says Paul Taylor, mixologist extraordinaire at Columbia Room. Available for pickup and delivery within D.C.; limited dine-in reservations via Tock. Your Only Friend pop-up at Columbia Room: 124 Blagden Alley NW, DC; www.columbiaroomdc.com // @youronlyfriendDC
The Cheery Night
Refreshingly hydrating, the tartness of lemon and cranberry meets the earthiness of rosemary syrup in this concoction. It’s a summer night in a glass. Available for pickup and delivery within D.C. Bay Leaf Bitters Co.: 3607 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.bayleafbittersco.com // @bayleafbittersco
Master and Margarita
This zero-proof cocktail is made with squeezed orange, lime essence, fresh lime, tajin, urfa, agave nectar and salt, and it’s all you need for to create those “day at the beach” vibes at home. Available for pickup and delivery via Neighborhood Provisions. Multiple locations in the DMV; www.neighborhoodprovisions.menu // @nrgprovisions
Will Hunting called, and he wants ‘dem apples back. With J.T. Copper’s Amber Caramel syrup and apple juice with a lemon-lime base, this tasty pint is garnished with a Gala apple wedge. Available for indoor/outdoor dine-in and pickup. Crossroads Tabletop Tavern: 9412 Main St. Manassas, VA; www.ttoptav.com // @crossroads_tabletoptavern
Just Ask Ralph
“Lapsang souchong Chinese black tea, Giffard Aperitif, Stirrings Blood Orange bitters and seltzer bring a soft, bitter complexity to your palate,” says Topside in Baltimore’s Anna Zelker. Available for pickup and limited dine-in reservations via OpenTable. Topside at Hotel Revival: 101 W Monument St. Baltimore, MD; http://topsidebmore.square.site // @topsidebmore
#MADEINDC, READY-TO-DRINK, BOOZE-FREE BEVERAGES
For those who want to stock their booze-free bar at home.
Charlie Berkinshaw’s Arlington, Virginia-based creative shrub biz (can we call it a shrubbery?) offers up winning flavor combos like chai pear and peach tamarind. This is literally one of my favorite things ever. www.elementshrub.com // @elementshrub
Pauline Idogho started experimenting with recipes for her apple cider vinegar (ACV), craft, nonalcoholic cocktail company when she was pregnant. My top picks from this D.C.-based company: Havana twist and Manhattan berry. www.mocktailclub.com // @mocktailclub
What was once a staple in colonial times, Nikki Blank’s hip D.C. company is a modern-day take on the old-timey apple cider vinegar, ginger and molasses-based beverage. www.drinksunomi.com // @drinksunomi
With flavors like lime mint, lemon ginger and wildberry, this District gem started by Chris Williamson serves up the (fermented) tea. www.drinkeverydaykombucha.com // @drink.everydaykombucha
I invite you to discover or rediscover D.C., whether in your travels or as a local, from a healthier lens. Check out District Fray’s Dry January guide online, and stay tuned for a virtual booze-free cocktail class and more Dry January content after the holidays. In the meantime, happy zero-proof sipping.
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