Just like so many New Year's resolutions, Dry January is often thought of as a challenge: Can you make it through a month without your favorite cocktail or a glass of wine with dinner? It makes sense to want to take a break from the spirited sips that are a hallmark of so many celebrations, but this year we're approaching Dry January from a different angle—using this time as a moment (or many moments) to reset, without having to deny ourselves the joy of a delicious drink.

With help from our friends at Seedlip and bartender Harper Fendler, we've mixed up a guide to Dry January complete with inventive non-alcoholic cocktail recipes you can make at home with ease, paired with thoughtful tips and ideas for creating your own no-proof bevs. Also on the menu: a weekly giveaway series featuring Seedlip and some of our favorite glassware.

A Bartender's Approach to Quality Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

"Making a good non-alcoholic cocktail requires the same building blocks as making a good cocktail," Harper explains. "The finished product should be balanced and appropriate for the setting." The drink should have an equilibrium of flavors, depending on the result you're looking for—whether it's something bright and refreshing, or more on the cozy, warmly spiced side. "Thinking about the season is a great opportunity to seek out inspiration when getting started," he says. For instance, summer is a great time to use citruses, stone fruits, and herbs, while winter calls for baking spices, marmalades and jams, and extracts like vanilla or almond.

In many examples, a cocktail will feature some combination of a base spirit, something sour, and simple syrup for sweetness. To make up for the missing volume and body that a base spirit would provide, non-alcoholic sips of days past relied largely on sugary fruit juices, seltzers, and syrups. The results were oftentimes overly sweet and under considered. Luckily, the arrival of high-end, non-alcoholic spirits like Seedlip—created by Ben Branson in his English country kitchen with a copper still and a centuries-old manual entitled The Art of Distillation—have opened up a world of flavor possibilities. "It brings back a foundation to build on in a cocktail, instead of adding more sugar or soda," says Harper.

Seedlip's pioneering first bottle was the Garden 108: "Herbaceous and bright, the Garden 108 is aptly named as it begs for you to roam around outside for inspiration," Harper explains. "Fresh berries (think: raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry) all provide a complementary balance of sweet and tart. It loves honey and melons, as well—take a swing with cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon and you won’t miss."

As the word of Seedlip spread to some of the world's best bars and Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as home bar carts, so did its portfolio. "Spice 94 has notes of cardamom, allspice, and oak that are all conducive to toasted, rich flavors and (of course) spices," Harper says. Espresso, ginger, apple all work nicely with this particular bottle. "That said, these flavors also pair beautifully with bitter citrus, like lime and grapefruit." Another pro tip from Harper: Play around with temperature here, as Spice 94 shines in a warm cocktail (hello, hot toddies) just as well as it does in a chilled drink.

The latest from Seedlip is Grove 42, a sophisticated blend of Mediterranean orange, lemon peel, lemongrass, and ginger. "Naturally, the lush oranges of Grove 42 love to play with other citruses, especially those with a brighter profile" Harper says. He recommends pairing it with lime and soda water for a simple sip, or the tart notes of unsweetened cranberry or rhubarb juice. "At the other end of the spectrum, ingredients with body allow the Grove 42 to act like a blanket," he explains, "creating a spice-forward build." For instance: egg whites or coconut milk in conjunction with black pepper, cinnamon, and coriander.

Seedlip Non-Alcoholic Spirits

Seedlip Non-Alcoholic Spirits

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A Seedlip Giveaway

Thanks for entering—this contest has now closed.

To set you up for sipping success, one lucky winner will receive a bottle of Seedlip and a set of four glasses from the Food52 Shop every week throughout the month of January. Simply enter your email below to be in the mix—and don't forget to check out the deadlines for entry, plus what we're giving away each week (full contest rules and conditions here).

Week 1

The Prize: Seedlip Spice 94 + Five Two Stackable Tall Glasses
Giveaway Opens: December 31, 2022 | Deadline to Enter: January 6, 2023

Week 2

The Prize: Seedlip Grove 42 + Retro Italian Goblets
Giveaway Opens: January 7, 2023 | Deadline to Enter: January 13, 2023

Week 3

The Prize: Seedlip Garden 108 + French Textured Tumblers
Giveaway Opens: January 14, 2023 | Deadline to Enter: January 20, 2023

Week 4

The Prize: Seedlip Spice 94 + Modern Colored Coupe Glasses
Giveaway Opens: January 21, 2023 | Deadline to Enter: January 27, 2023

Essential Tools & Glassware

"I use the same bar setup for non-alcoholic drinks as I do for regular cocktails," says Harper. His kit is simple, but versatile enough to make a number of different recipes: cocktail shaker, Hawthorne strainer, fine strainer, jiggers with a variety of measurements, a barspoon for stirred sips (and floating liquids), and a knife and cutting board for prepping citrus and other ingredients. Some nice-to-haves include a lighter for toasted garnishes or flamed twists (if you're feeling extra fancy), plus a mallet and Lewis bag, which'll come in handy if you need freshly crushed ice.

Keeping a few select styles of glassware on hand will also maximize your drink-making abilities. You don't need a lot, but "a good tumbler or rocks glass is a must," says Harper. "Want something on the rocks, over a big rock, neat, served down, or a fizz? That’s your glass, and the glass I use most often." It never hurts to have a few highball or Collins glasses, too, though a decent set of wine glasses can handle most any task, he adds. "Yes, they work for wine, but they’re also great for a spritz—and no one should complain if you serve a Collins cocktail in a wine glass."

Meet Harper

Meet Harper

Harper Fendler is a writer and bartender based in Portland, Maine. Born and raised in the Pine Tree State, he spends much of his free time exploring the outdoors and ocean, taking advantage of his wilderness guiding background to find inspiration for recipes with wild and foraged seasonal ingredients. His favorite no-proof drink to make at home: an espresso and tonic, with a squeeze of lemon over the top.

More Non-Al Inspiration

These creative recipes—from riffs on classic cocktails (we're looking at you, Espresso Martini) to warming beverages made for winter sipping—are proof that non-alcoholic drinks never need be boring again.

Words by Erin Alexander