(This is the first installment of Drink to Your Health, a series of recipes for alcohol-free drinks. Each week for the month of January, we’ll feature a different drink developed for one of the various reasons that people abstain from the hard stuff.)
Taking a “dry January” has become a frequent resolution among regular drinkers.
We’ve tried it ourselves in past years; we’re in favor. The holiday season is like one extreme marathon of overindulgence, and finding equilibrium after January 1 can require a move of similar intensity.
It’s not just the lack of booze that we miss during these bouts of liquor-free living, though we do sometimes crave the relaxing effects of a whiskey neat. It’s also the complexity of flavor that boozy beverages provide: an ideal balance of bitterness, acidity, sweetness and heat that soda, juice and water lack. Coffee and tea can fill this bill in the morning, but the evening hours demand a different jolt.
This dead-simple syrup can be made ahead of time and quickly mixed into a beverage that quietly echoes the herby comfort of a gin and tonic. Juniper berries provide herbal resinous heat and lemon peels—pith included!—add acidity and slight bitterness.
If you’re entertaining guests who haven’t sworn off the sauce, make the drink with sparkling wine instead of tonic. Just be sure to garnish the alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks differently so that you can keep them straight.