Dry January is almost upon us, when Americans are encouraged to remove alcohol from their diet for 31 days.
I removed drinking alcohol from my diet for health reasons in 2017. Although I’m a Boomer, I was ahead of the curve on my decision to give up booze. The most recent statistics show that youth drinking in America is declining, especially among Gen Z adults and high school students. Gen Z drinks 20% less alcohol per capita than Millennials did at the same age, and the decline in youth drinking appears to be something of a movement.
Gen Z appears to be more health conscious than previous generations, at least when it comes to alcohol.
When I stopped drinking, there wasn’t much of an alternative beyond O’Doul’s beer, which basically signaled to a bartender/server that you had a drinking problem. Today, there is an entire section of non-alcoholic beers and spirits at my local Bev Mo on The Old Road. Plenty of choices, although I would like to see more.
The non-alcoholic beer market grew to $22 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach $40 billion by 2032. Smart restaurants and bars now serve both non-alcoholic beers and mocktails, which are cocktails made from non-alcoholic spirits, thus allowing an adult to avoid the embarrassment of ordering a Shirley Temple.
We recently visited Montreal, Canada, and happened upon an upscale food court that had its own non-alcohol bar, featuring mocktails and non-alcoholic Canadian craft beers. The Canadian craft beers were delicious. The customers were (besides me) all in their 20s or 30s.
On that same trip, I enjoyed a non-alcoholic craft beer at the Whitney Museum of Art café in New York City. You can even order a non-alcoholic beer at 35,000 feet on JetBlue and Alaska Airlines.
Yes, I admit that sometimes I still miss a good pinot noir or a great California sparkling wine. And yes, Mexican cuisine without a margarita or cerveza doesn’t seem right.
But as someone who observes Dry January for 12 months, I won’t mind if you mocktail me.