Kitchn Love Letters

My Dry January Plans Completely Tanked. I’ll Try Again in February with This Insta-Famous Alcohol Alternative.

updated Jan 16, 2021
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Credit: Lauren Masur

After a long, cold, dark December, and a particularly somber holiday season, I noticed that my apartment’s recycling bin was filling up at a more rapid pace than usual — mostly with empty wine and spirits bottles. But after the year we’d been through, could you blame me?

Still, I had every intention of starting out the new year on a slightly more virtuous foot — and one area I knew I could certainly cut back was my happy-hour habit. I’ve never committed to a full “Dry January” before, but I thought at the very least I could avoid drinking on weekdays, right?

Reader, I could not. Once my plans for a Dry-ish January were quashed — in that first doozy of a week in January — I decided to commit to lower-alcohol consumption in February instead. (A mere 28 days is a lot more manageable than 31, anyway.) With impeccable timing, my Instagram algorithm led me to Ghia, a “spirits-free apéritif” that promised to allow me to continue enjoying happy hour — booze-free. I got my hands on a bottle to do a dry-run. (Get it?)

Credit: Lauren Masur

Ghia is “a social tonic inspired by Mediterranean aperitivo culture” made of botanical extracts, that’s meant to be enjoyed “without numbing the night (or the next morning).” For newbies (like me), the team at Ghia recommends trying it for the first time paired with bubbles, in a one-to-one ratio, to really get the essence. I used Trader Joe’s plain sparkling water, poured it into a fancy flute, and prepared to be amazed.

Credit: Lauren Masur

The resulting drink is pleasantly bitter, herbaceous, and more than complex enough to mimic the taste of an expertly crafted spritz. Meant for “slow sipping,” the flavor lingers (in a good way!) and really makes you stop and savor what’s in your glass.

Ghia’s ingredient list would delight even the nerdiest professional mixologist: Water, riesling white grape juice concentrate, gentian root extract, yuzu juice, lemon balm extract, fig concentrate, elderflower extract, acacia, orange peel extract, rosemary extract, ginger extract, and fruit and veggie juice for color. It makes sense it tastes so interesting and delightful.

You can enjoy it straight with seltzer, like I did, or use it to make booze-free cocktails of your choosing. (Ghia’s website has a whole selection of recipes to try, and their loyal fanbase has even more ideas in the reviews section.)

After a completely failed Dry-ish January, I’m ready to head into a more promising, booze free-ish February — with Ghia in tow.

Credit: Lauren Masur

At $33 per 18-ounce bottle, Ghia is most certainly not a bargain — but compared to a quality bottle of liquor, it’s right on par. (Plus, if you buy more than one bottle at once, you’ll save money.) While it looks great on a bar cart, once you’ve opened it, you should stash the bottle in the fridge and finish it within three weeks.

Buy: Ghia, $33 for 18 ounces

Are you doing a Dry January? How’s it going? What are your drinking plans for February? Discuss in the comments below!