Night Out: A Night of (Mostly) Not Drinking With a ‘Drynuary’ Expert
Other than some exceptions here and there, John Ore has not had an alcoholic drink during the month of January in 10 years. This is part of an annual seltzer-soaked exercise in temperance that he calls Drynuary.
Mr. Ore, 46, is a longtime subscriber to the idea that a January without booze can lead to better sleep, better dreams and a weight loss of roughly 10 pounds. But on a recent evening in December, he could be found sitting under a ceiling of red and gold Christmas ornaments at the Brass Monkey, a bar in the meatpacking district, drinking a pint of Lagunitas. After all, it wasn’t Drynuary just yet.
Over a couple of pints of beer — and, later, a seltzer-based drink — Mr. Ore was preparing to hit the reset button after a grueling holiday season filled with gluttony and family-related stress. Maybe you know the feeling. For those who are thinking of taking the month off from drinking, he has some pointers.
Develop a thick skin.
For years, Mr. Ore, a senior vice president for product at the news website Business Insider, has peppered the internet with essays about Drynuary in Slate, The Awl and Deadspin — indeed, he’s the top Google result for the term.
“The one thing I’ve not gotten my head around is the reaction of people I don’t even know,” he said of Drynuary’s detractors, of whom there have been many, from those who think it trivializes the problem of binge drinking to those who just think it’s stupid.
Drynuary is the “Love Actually” of lifestyle choices: Most people don’t care either way, but the same handful return year after year to tell you how bad — or how good — a programming choice you’re making.
“Last year, someone tweeted at me and was like, ‘Hey, Drynuary guy, I get what you’re doing but you’re kind of a smug ——,” he said, ending the sentence with a four-letter expletive.
Mr. Ore, a father of two, emphasizes that Drynuary is not a cult or a movement: “I’m not recruiting.”
Speaking of seltzer …
During the month of January, Mr. Ore is a Canada Dry kind of guy. He enjoys mixing fruit with his seltzer. At the Brass Monkey, he swaps his Lagunitas for seltzer with a splash of cranberry and lime.
“It’s like a virgin Cape Cod or something,” he said after taking a sip of the slightly syrupy drink. He thinks of an alternative name for this mocktail: the Drynuary Sadness.
For those new to Drynuary, Mr. Ore says that ordering a seltzer drink at a bar or a party can be a provocation, mostly because others may be compelled to try to undo any progress with peer pressure.
“If people get salty about it, it says more about them than it does about you,” he said. “Say, ‘This is why I do it, and this is what I’m getting out of it.’”
Drynuary is not going to be easy.
After leaving the Brass Monkey, Mr. Ore sits down to a dinner of sliders and a cheese board at Tanner Smith’s in Midtown. Here, he drinks a cocktail called the Hudson Duster — rye, lemon juice, amaretto — and contemplates the cadence of the average Drynuary.
“The first week, you’re overenergized,” he said. “I’m having lucid dreams more often.”
The second week, his clothes fit better, but after that, it’s all uphill. By the fourth week, he said, “I’m sick of whatever it is that used to be interesting about this.”
Tonight, dinner comes with a nonalcoholic round of tonic waters and lemon.
“You get a little bit of the interestingness of a cocktail,” he said, regarding the drink. “I could see cranberry in this, too. Nothing too fancy.”
As other observers of Drynuary have noted, completing a month without drinking is an achievement, especially in a city where socializing without alcohol can be tricky and social calendars are defined by happy hours and bottomless brunches.
“If you can get this done,” Mr. Ore said, “there is this sense of accomplishment.”
The month can end early.
On one or two occasions, Mr. Ore and his wife, Jennifer Jerutis, have ended the month a little early or started a few days late because of vacations — including “flying to Puerto Rico with a 4-month-old” — or because of hard-to-get dinner reservations. One year, he just didn’t feel like drinking seltzer water with his steak at Peter Luger.
This year, he says he may have to make contingency plans for the second half of the month.
“I was thinking I’d maybe do something different,” he said, “like have a beer on Inauguration Day.”
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