Somewhere near the end of 2019, I decided that I would participate in Dry January. I didn’t anticipate that I would end up abstaining from alcohol for a full year. 2020 was my dry year. Despite all the jokes about needing a multitude of stiff drinks to get through this past year, 2020 was probably a good year to experiment with going dry. It’d have been far too easy to drink far too excessively given the year we’ve all had and that is not a road I want to go down, especially with a new baby in the house.
Technically, I can’t say I didn’t have any alcohol. I had a sip or two of a friend’s homemade wine (but literally just a sip or two, from my wife’s glass – no having a glass of my own and calling it a “sip”). But other than that I went a full year without a drink.
This led me to explore the world of alcohol-free beer, wine and spirits. The wine is god awful and the spirits are lacking (more on this in a bit), but there is a lot of fantastic alcohol-free beer on the market these days. It’s not just O’Douls anymore! Going forward, I will continue to drink primarily non-alcoholic beer. It’s so good and I don’t miss the alcohol at all. I will have the occasional full-strength beer, but that will likely be rare.
What I do miss is a good whisky or other spirit. It turns out, when you remove 40 per cent or more of the thing that makes a spirit a spirit, you fundamentally change it’s character. Most non-alcoholic spirits are like the homeopathic version of the thing they’re meant to replace. Beer doesn’t suffer from removing the alcohol because it’s a relatively low portion of the overall beverage. Spirits, alas, aren’t even remotely the same without the alcohol. So I will continue to have the occasional glass of whisky but, again, this will be rarer than in the past – likely just for special occasions.
On the whole, I don’t miss alcohol and generally prefer not drinking it. I’ve really rethought my relationship with alcohol, which I don’t think was ever unhealthy, but was still worthy of rethinking. So even though I’ll be drinking again in 2021, it’ll be much less than ever before. Beer will be mostly non-alcoholic, but spirits are something that can’t be properly had without alcohol (in my opinion). Maybe, one day, when my liquor cabinet goes dry, I won’t bother to restock it. But, for now, this is the “happy medium” I’ve decided upon.
Update – Jan. 01, 2021: I neglected to mention in the original version of this post that I will continue to take regular breaks from alcohol, such as Sober October and future years of Dry January (just not this January).