Dry January: Alcohol-free alternatives to help you drink less

Discover 0.0% ABV drinks available in Malaysia.

People all over the world participate in Dry January for a myriad of reasons

After binge eating and drinking over Christmas and New Year, some may decide to abstain from alcohol for the first month of the year as part of Dry January. The public health campaign was first started by non-profit Alcohol Change UK in 2013 which drew inspiration from a woman named Emily Robinson who, for two years in a row, had found countless benefits to her health by abstaining from alcohol for a month. The concept, though, has been around for much longer — the Finnish government launched its Sober January campaign in 1942.

However, is one month of sobriety enough to have an impact on your body? Yes it is, says a study by the University of Sussex. “Dry January is the secret to better sleep, saving money and losing weight,” according to the study — led by psychologist Dr Richard de Visser — which collected data from people who took part in Dry January in 2018. While an array of results were positive, the most startling were that 80% of respondents felt they were more in control of their drinking, 71% slept better, 71% realised that they did not need a drink to enjoy themselves, 88% saved money, and 70% had generally improved health.

In the published study, Alcohol Change UK CEO Dr Richard Piper says, “Many of us know about the health risks of alcohol — seven forms of cancer, liver disease, mental health problems — but we are often unaware that drinking less has more immediate benefits too. Sleeping better, feeling more energetic, saving money, better skin, losing weight … The list goes on. Dry January helps millions to experience those benefits and make a longer-lasting change to drink more healthily.” The non-profit reports that the number of participants in the campaign has increased more than 30 times, from 4,000 in 2013 to 130,000 in 2021.


Well-known brands such as Heineken offer 0.0% ABV beer options

People all over the world participate in Dry January for a myriad of reasons, and there are other variations of the concept such as Dry February in Canada and Sober October. While some still scoff at the idea of abstaining from alcohol for just one month, many have found the experience life-changing. In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was an increase in alcohol consumption, with The Guardian reporting a surge in alcohol-related deaths when England was in lockdown — a sobering reminder of why campaigns like Dry January are so important. We need to be more mindful about our drinking.

For many, drinking alcohol comes naturally as it is an intrinsic part of their social life. Having a cheeky glass of wine with dinner, a crafted cocktail with pals after work, an ice cold beer while watching a football match — most of us do all of this unthinkingly. So the idea of abstaining, especially quitting cold turkey, could feel quite impossible.

That was until 0.0% ABV (alcohol by volume) drinks began popping up in the market. Well-known brands such as Heineken, Beck’s and Brewdog have non-alcoholic or low ABV beer options. But what about something for those who adore creative concoctions?


Lyre’s premium non-alcoholic (Photo: Lyre's)

Established in 2019, Australian brand Lyre’s set out to create premium non-alcoholic spirits, ensuring that everyone has an option no matter their drinking preferences. Its range includes American Malt, Dry London Spirit, Italian Spritz, Spiced Cane Spirit and even Absinthe. Using these alcohol-free options to replace the usual spirits or even lessen the alcohol content in your favourite cocktail could lead to an increased appreciation of flavour and help individuals be more mindful about their drinking.

With Aureal Asia as its official distributor, Lyre’s is now available in Malaysia. If you are partaking in Dry January, wanting to reduce your alcohol consumption, or simply hoping to taste something new, Lyre’s is available in selected bars and restaurants including JungleBird, Bobo KL and OpenHouse KLCC. The brand’s alcohol free spirits can also be purchased from My Liquor Base, Cincin Wine Bar & Grill, Cork & Cleaver and The Wine Shop Signature in Penang.


This article first appeared on Jan 17, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.


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