There’s something to be said for the ritual and romance of an evening cocktail. In a year that’s been so terribly monotonous, to say nothing of impossible, I think it’s nice to home in on any of the habits that can make things feel even marginally better. Enjoying an evening drink even in non-pandemic times can demarcate the space and time between the work day and the everything-else-day. There’s simple pleasure in the time spent making something a little bit bubbly, a little bit herbacious, a little bit bitter, or flowery, or maybe all of these things at once. Looking forward to anything special that’s JUST FOR ADULTS, NO KIDS ALLOWED, well, in year of non-stop parenting, that’s nice, too. Drinking a cocktail feels rarified and special and fancy. When most everything else feels anything but, I say cheers to that.
Still, especially in a crap year, falling into a pattern of drinking a cocktail or a glass (or two) of wine every single night wasn’t doing me any favors in the coping department. A few months ago when I found myself starting to troll the internet for tips on waking up every morning less miserable, it occurred to me that starting with eliminating a nightly drink might be a place to start. (I appreciated Julia Bainbridge’s thoughts on the subject and am curious to peek inside her book!)
I still like to enjoy a delicious cocktail or a glass of wine once in a while, but I’ve been working on diversifying my diversions. Here, in the spirit of sharing, a few non-alcoholic drinks I’ve been enjoying lately:
Seltzer water: In what’s an understandably precious sounding update, we’ve started to receive a monthly delivery of Brooklyn Seltzer Boys bubbly water. It’s an old-fashioned operation that delivers the most bitingly bubbly seltzer directly to our door. The bottles work out to $4.50 each, which isn’t terribly much more expensive than a regular habit of buying LaCroix, and certainly less expensive than a bottle of wine. Cost notwithstanding, the whole enterprise feels luxurious, which is partially the point. I can’t in good faith recommend that everyone support their local bottling company delivery service, but if you’re in Brooklyn and enjoy very fizzy water and maybe also have a penchant for old-timey things, you wouldn’t be wrong to give them a try. Best enjoyed cold, cold, cold (never frozen).
Bitters: Once, in my pre-child days I attended a bitters making class and then came home, promptly forgot to ever agitate the jar and eventually lost track of it altogether. Now older and wiser, I take delight in buying my bitters. I love Bittercube’s Jamaican No. 1 and I recently I gave myself the gift of a Dram Apothecary Bitters Set.
These bitters are beautiful, which is of course what I noticed first, but they’re also delicious to add into seltzer (or spirits) or even tea, et cetera! For folks who abstain from alcohol entirely, they’re glycerin-based and alcohol-free, which is nice to know! The Palo Santo Bitters are my favorite.
CBD Seltzer: I’ve tried my fair share of CBD seltzers recently and I can’t really say they all pass muster. Still, some are yummy and feel appropriately special for the task at hand (which is, remember, feeling special). I don’t have any particularly strong evidence on whether the CBD is doing a huge amount to chill me out, but I do enjoy a good placebo effect. I like Dram Apothecary’s CBD Seltzers best of all, which are dangerously for sale at our nearest grocery. (Now that we have our own seltzer delivery, I’m curious about adding their water-soluble CBD mixer to my kitchen mixology practice.)
Curious Elixirs: If mixing anything at all feels like too much work, or if you just want to rely on someone else’s expertise, these are delicious cocktails—minus the booze—in a bottle. We were recently able to try a whole box in the form of their Monthly Variety Pack and honest to goodness, they’re so good and fun and wholesome?!
The elixirs have a vaguely healthful taste—the way that a good Bloody Mary can—which is nice. But I also appreciate that they don’t tip all the way toward vegetal in the way of, say, a wheatgrass juice. They’re effervescent and come ready for drinking, though I’ve also diluted mine slightly with seltzer for a lighter taste and I would describe that as success, too. Maybe most importantly, they’re not sweet or cloying like most mocktails out there! We’ve loved them all, but my personal favorite is the No. 4—a non-alcoholic take on an Aperol Spritz that’s super refreshing. James and I have both decided we could drink the spicy, margarita-inspired No. 2 nightly. (All the better with a salted rim.)
Amass Riverine Non-Alcoholic Spirit: Beautiful bottle and branding aside, the non-alcoholic Riverine from Amass is a real delight. It tastes fancy and adult—though the lack of the alcoholic burn takes a minute to get used to. Like the bitters, this works as well as part of a classic cocktail as it does in anything mock. I especially like it mixed with tonic water and lime, like a slightly smoky gin and tonic minus the next day’s headache.
What about all of you? Enjoying more or less of anything special lately?
For the curious:
Our ice cube tray.
Our bottle opener.
Our linen dish towel.
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