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Dry January 2024: Keeping Sales Rising as Alcoholic Consumption Falls

Like the fitness and weight-loss crazes that happen every year around this time, #DryJanuary is a time for those who might have overindulged during the holidays to cut back on their alcohol consumption and embrace a healthier lifestyle.  To prevent sales from drying up during the first month of 2024, resolve to meet customer demand with creative ideas and healthy beverage options.

Because many folks making a commitment to a drier start of the year are tempted to stay away from restaurants and bars to avoid temptation, let your sober-curious customers know that you fully support their efforts by offering no and low-alcohol counterparts.

Since its inception in 2011, when a British resident decided to stop drinking to train for a half-marathon, the Dry January Challenge has become a worldwide phenomenon, with millions of Americans making a 31-day commitment to "stay dry."

With an interest in Dry January jumping by a whopping 259% from January 2022 to January 2023, and numbers expected to rise even higher in 2024, savvy restaurants must rise to the challenge along with their guests. Respond to the sober-curious movement by pouring better-tasting and higher-quality alcohol-free cocktails made with fresh ingredients, high-end zero-proof spirits, and the same bar expertise that goes into your boozy beverages. 

Damp Drinking Days

While some consumers do choose the first days of the year as a time to get sober permanently, most are just looking for ways to reduce, recharge and reset.

A commitment to more of a “Damp January” than a dry one, many consumers don’t plan to abstain from alcohol completely, but rather try to take a more moderate approach to their alcohol use. 

As customers resolve to get healthier in the new year, restaurants can also use January as an opportunity to get the year off to a healthy start. 

If your restaurant has yet to tap into the burgeoning no-low alcoholic beverage market, this is the perfect time to whet your customer’s appetite for mocktails or zero-alcoholic malts. 

Then, if you find that your customers are receptive in January, consider making your drier menu a permanent part of your offerings. Use sales from January to gauge which drinks are “stars” and menu engineer your beverage menu just as you do your food menu. 

The No-Low Alcohol Movement

A shift in consumer behavior over the last decade has fueled massive growth in the low and no-alcohol industries, beckoning new brands and drumming up exciting category innovation in longstanding ones.

With as many as 55% of consumers making a switch to nonalcoholic beverages like NA cocktails and zero beer in recent years, this category is expected to climb by more than 30% in 2024.  

From beer and wine to spirits and seltzers, Dry January is about alcohol taking a backseat to health and price considerations as consumers readjust their priorities for the year ahead. 

January is the perfect time to make the move to a drier menu without putting a damper on your sales. 

Instead of looking at January as a month where sales are sure to dry up, embrace the no-low beverage movement and let it work in your favor.  With the right marketing tactics and some creative menu adjustments, Dry January can prove to be one of the most profitable months of the year. 

Whether you’re just beginning to tap into the booze-less beverage boom or if you’re looking to expand your existing menu, here are a few tips to help you get started.

11 Tips for Boosting Beverage Sales During Dry January

  1. Host a Mocktail Party and invite the local press for some free PR. Create some excitement around the alcohol-free month by designating one night a week during the month of January to host a Dry January Happy Hour. If these events prove successful, consider continuing these events throughout the year.

  1. Hold a private after-hours no-low wine, beer, and mocktail-tasting event for your loyal customers and staff. Send private evites to keep the number of attendees limited. Then ask each attendee to participate in a survey. Ask which drinks they most prefer and would order during the rest of the year and then ask them to name their price by listing a few options. Finally, use this valuable data to reimagine your beverage menu.

  2. Get Creative with Mocktails. By labeling a drink a “mocktail,” and charging a premium, you can easily boost your bottom line by using ingredients already on hand. Instead of adding new items to your inventory, save space and money by reimagining the same ingredients you use for bar drinks to create mocktails.

4.  Experiment with low-cost add-ons and mixes like:

5. Create a “Green” Beverage Menu. Feed this newfound taste for healthier living with some tempting additions to your cocktail lists. Add fresh juices with health benefits to your existing menu or create a whole new dry menu. Think of it as a vegan menu for sober customers. Just as important as it is to cater to guests with dietary restrictions, use your beverage menu to entice the healthy crowd and attract new business. 

6. Upgrade Your Wine List. For those clients that seek to just drink less, January is the perfect time to offer more premium bottles of wine or focus on investing in the top shelf of the spirits bar (rather than the speed rail). 

7. Train your crew. With crowds diminished, your staff will have more time to spend with their guests in January; so use this time to upsell. Make sure your servers are well-versed in NOLO wine service. 

Consider hiring a sommelier to teach your staff some of the finer points of your vino lists.   This is especially helpful for groups with a mix of guests that are drinking traditional drinks and those participating in Dry January. Provide your staff with a list of ingredients, demonstrate how the drink is prepared, and offer a tasting experience. 

8. Update your delivery menu. Whether you decide to test your new beverage menu options in your dining room first or want to take the leap of offering no-low beverages to your off-premise customers right away, adding non-alcoholic options to your delivery menu is a great way to pique customer interest.

And the good news is, regardless of what state you live in, there are no regulations preventing you from delivering beverages with zero alcohol. For locations that don’t allow alcohol delivery, no and low alcoholic beverages are an excellent opportunity to attract a brand new customer by offering high-profit drinks on your off-premise menu. 

Ideal for corporate catering and events for families, offer customers catering options that include your sober menu as well.  

9. Create a Healthy Bar Menu to complement your Dry January menu.  If your diners have decided to drink healthier, they’ll also be looking to up their eating game. Create a special Dry Bar Menu with specials on healthy appetizers that pair well with your alcohol-free mocktails and no-low-alcohol beer and wine options. 

Tempt guests with healthy bar menu specials like vegetables and hummus bowls and fried cauliflower bites.   This form of cross-selling will not only help your staff upsell, but it will give them the confidence and skills to offer add-ons long after January has ended.

10. #Dry January. Take full advantage of the marketing buzz surrounding the Dry January sensation by using hashtags that lead sober-curious customers to your door. Use social media to promote your Dry January menu and appeal to the GenZ and Millennial sober-curious or abstinent crowd. 

11. Create a Dry January calendar with daily or weekly specials to entice diners to visit your restaurant. Come up with clever names and promote them on social media and in-store marketing collateral. Use tabletop signs to advertise your January specials.

Defining No and Low-Alcoholic Beverages

If you’re unsure about what constitutes alcohol-free, non-alcoholic,  or reduced-alcohol drinks, here’s the breakdown.

Low Alcohol

In the US, the term “low-alcohol”  refers to drinks that have an alcoholic strength by volume (ABV) of between 0.05 and 1.2%. The term “low-alcohol” may be used only on malt beverages containing less than 2.5% alcohol by volume. 

Reduced Alcohol

The term “reduced alcohol,” simply means a drink has an alcohol content lower than the average strength of a particular type of drink. 


An alcohol-free or non-alcoholic drink, also known as a temperance drink, is a version of an alcoholic beverage made without alcohol or with the alcohol removed or reduced to almost zero. These may take the form of a   "virgin” cocktail, (AKA  mocktail), non-alcoholic beer ("near beer"), and alcohol-free wines. For malt beverages to be considered “non-alcoholic” or alcohol-free, the product must contain less than 0.5% (or .5%) alcohol by volume.  

Stats to consider

  • No-Low beer and cider represent a 92% share of the total No-Low alcohol segment

  • 58% of consumers drink No-Low and full-strength alcohol on the same occasion 

  • 42% of consumers state that health is the top priority for cutting alcohol from their diet 

  • 64% of consumers that consume no-low products prefer to drink them at home.

  • 41% of consumers reduce alcohol consumption to save money.  

  • 47% of millennials and GenZers believe mocktails are as good as cocktails.

What Motivates People to Participate in Dry January

The “sober curious”  movement is growing increasingly popular and many consumers choose the month of January to experiment with a sans-alcohol lifestyle. 

As an extension of the wellness movement, people choose to reduce or eliminate alcohol in January for a number of personal reasons, with getting healthy and saving money as the most popular.

Demographics are also at play. With younger consumers drinking less alcohol and adjusting their priorities as they move into the “adulting” phase of life with families and careers, Dry January is seen as a good time to change things up and get the year off to a good start.  

NA Beverages Trending in 2024

In 2023, NA (non-alcoholic) drinks got a lot of buzz. From pre-mixed mocktails and near-beers to zero-proof spirits, the non-alcoholic beverage industry has been steadily growing in popularity over the last few years. According to Pinterest, searches for “non-alcoholic drinks” were up 220% on the social platform, with“mocktail bar” another key phrase gaining traction.

As the world of the sober-curious seeks out fun new drink options, traditional liquor manufacturers are responding to the hype with the launch of alcohol-free versions of their flagship products, like Captain Morgan’s 0.0% spiced gold spirit.

NA beverages, like wines and seltzers competing for space on traditional liquor store shelves, more and more restaurants hopped on board in 2023, with sober-friendly drink menus abounding.


With the non-alcoholic beverage market growing at lightning speed---worth $890 billion in 2022, and expected to grow to $1.7 trillion by 2032---forecasters say to look out for these NA beverage trends in 2024.  


All the rage in 2023 non-alcoholic functional beverages that include all kinds of wellness-boosting ingredients, such as minerals, vitamins, probiotics, and electrolytes, are predicted to expand in popularity in 2024. A new category of functional beverages will likely be hot in 2024 is euphoric drinks, elixirs claiming to deliver an altered state of consciousness without any negative side effects.

As consumers gravitate towards more health-conscious choices, more players are expected to enter this space. Kin Euphorics, founded by model Bella Hadid in 2022, combines nootropics, adaptogens, and botanicals that make you feel warm and fuzzy without the booze, is one brand leading the charge in this category.


Pickle Drinks

The NA spirits segment is expected to grow with zero-proof spirits that feature healthy combinations of botanicals, herbs, and, the latest trend---pickle juice! The staying power that made it a perfect pantry stock in NY delis for centuries, a Brooklyn bar recently introduced the pickeltini in 2023.  Served up in a classic martini glass with a playful pickle garnish, the pickeltini is a fun play on the dirty martini and expected to be trending in the NA beverage arena in 2024.


Long common to see celebs launch and promote alcoholic beverage brands, 2024 will see more celebrities making a sober shift to the non-alcoholic space. Katy Perry, who launched De Soi in 2022, a line of sparkling non-alcoholic aperitifs, joined Real Housewives star Luann de Lesseps who introduced her own line of NA Fosé Rosé. As the NA space grows, more celebs are predicted to be hopping on the alcohol-free bandwagon in 2024. 

No-Low Beer

Non-alcoholic beer has been a market fixture for years, but the excitement surrounding the rapid growth of the craft segment is catapulting this industry into the stratosphere. 

Leading in the global no-low alcohol category, the craft beer space is home to a considerable number of alcohol-free beer innovations.


With the growing trend of moderation and healthy living, the no-low alcohol wine category, which first started to grow in Europe and Asia, has reached the US border.

Once taking a backseat to beer, the NOLO wine industry is expected to further expand in 2024. Major brands are releasing no- and low-alcohol labels, new brands are coming to market, and wine-adjacent offerings are expanding the category.


With at-home coffee stations replacing the ubiquitous bar cart, more coffee-infused non-alcoholic drinks are on the horizon, with a 118 percent increase in searches for non-alcoholic coffee-infused mocktails in 2023.

Lead by the rise in popularity of the carajillo, a two-ingredient coffee drink made with espresso and Licor 43, a unique citrus and vanilla liqueur, the carajillo is the hottest emerging star of the 2024 cocktail scene. Praised for its simplicity and versatility, the trend is expected to extend into the NA space in 2024.

Sparkling teas

For those no longer looking to pop champagne bottles, but still want to find ways to toast, sparkling teas are a great substitute. With fizzy, sparkling, and carbonated drinks popping across the alcoholic spectrum, sparkling teas like champagne-inspired kombucha, are gentler, elegant, alcohol-free alternatives to old-school non-alcoholic sparkling wines.


In a sea of NA drinks, the spicy-sweet aperitif is expected to be one of the newest nonalcoholic beverages of 2024. Typically involving herbs or other ingredients that arouse the drinker's appetite, the Figlia Fiore, with a juicy sweetness that makes it palatable without being overly saccharine, is a non-alcoholic aperitif meant to be enjoyed over ice.

Mocktail Mixes

Mocktail mixes, getting increasingly creative, are expected to rise in popularity in 2024. Due to rising consumer interest in health and wellness, the ‘mindful drinking’ movement is expected to rise in the year ahead. 

Take Away

2023 made it clear that the NA drink movement is here to stay. As this trend shifts into a longterm lifestyle choice in 2024, whether for the month of January or a lifetime, the future of the beverage market looks filled with sophisticated, health-conscious no and low alcohol options.

Like everything else in the food service industry, meeting customer demand should always remain at top of mind. Actively engaging and paying attention to your customer’s chosen lifestyles, changing tastes,  and industry trends are key factors for restaurants to succeed. Dry January is a great time to experiment, get creative, and dive into the sans-alcohol beverage pool and watch your profits overflow!

By Eileen Strauss


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