Last week, we published an article outlining some of the products we recommend for anyone taking on Dry January.
We wanted to provide you something in an easy to use format, so we made recommendations for beer drinkers, whisky drinkers, wine drinkers and everything in between.
You can take a look at our piece here.
But we were also curious what people are actually buying to stock up for Dry January.
So we checked in with our friend Douglas Watters, owner of NYC's first booze-free bottle shop Spirited Away.
Spirited Away is the only shop in the city selling exclusively non-alc. So Douglas has a good grasp on what the customer is actually interested in... and what keeps them coming back for more.
Below you'll find our conversation with Douglas Watters from Spirited Away.
TZP: What big trend have you seen since opening your doors last November?
DW: People are definitely interested in functional, non-alcoholic spirits... drinks that will replace the feeling of inebriation with elation, calm or lifted spirits.
Some of our offerings are functional thanks to adaptogens and nootropics (herbs that help improve mind/body functions and to regulate stress). Those brands are Kin Euphorics, Three Spirit, Bonbuz, Aplós and Rasasvada.
This isn't the only trend I'm seeing. I've sold a little bit of everything in the store. But we're still in the early stages and palates are only going to get more adventurous.
TZP: What are you most popular products right now?
DW: Top of the list are the Noughty sparkling chardonnay, Ghia aperitif, and Kin Spritz, which are three of my favorites as well.
TZP: We're not even halfway through Dry January, but have people been stopping in or calling about anything in particular?
DW: Customers are interested in the few books I carry because sometimes they want more than just replacements for alcoholic drinks. They also want resources, inspiration and recipes for maximizing their Dry January.
Our books include Hilary Sheinbaum's The Dry Challenge, Ruby Warrington's Sober Curious and Julia Bainbridge's Good Drinks. And we have a few more on the way.
TZP: What are folks responding to and/or buying in terms of sector? Any clear standouts between non-alcoholic spirits, beer or wine?
DW: It's definitely a little bit of everything. This time of year is all about the malty, rich winter beers, like the All Out stout from Athletic Brewing Company and the Bravus Brewing Co Oatmeal Stout and Peanut Butter Stout. Additionally, Curious Elixir No. 5 is really well received.
TZP: What are your 3 personal favorite products in the shop?
DW: I'm really loving Aplós's broad-spectrum hemp non-alcoholic spirit, For Bitter For Worse (I recently made a mulled wine with The Saskatoon, and a Smoky No. 56 hot apple cider, both of which are awesome this time of year) and Woodnose's Sacré: a dark, maple, coffee aperitif perfect for dark, cold, winter months, and it makes a nice espresso martini.
TZP: Any interesting insights based on your customer behavior?
DW: More than once someone has offhandedly bought a single can of Kin Spritz or been handed one during a sidewalk giveaway at Spirited Away only to return a day or two later regaling me with stories of how elated they felt!
One guy said he felt his spirits were so much higher than usual when he drank a Kin Spritz and then went to meet friends. Another guy said he felt inspired to call family and friends he doesn't speak to often. The adaptogens are interesting, they really affect everyone differently.
TZP: Predictions in terms of trends for Dry Jan 2021?
DW: As the month progresses, I hope people will expand beyond the things they already know and love and maybe try something new and different. There's a lot here to explore and if you're willing to be a little bit adventurous, I find that's often rewarded with great new discoveries, things I never I expected I would love.
I don't particularly care for alcoholic American whiskeys, so I anticipated I wouldn't like the whiskey alternatives. However I'm actually finding that I like the zero-proof options a lot... Lyre's American Malt, Ritual Zero Proof Whiskey Alternative, Spiritless Kentucky 74 and Seir Hill Mashville are the four I stock right now. And they're all great.
If you're in New York City, you can visit Douglas at Spirited Away on 153 Ludlow St. to purchase any of the products he discusses above. You can also arrange local pickup and delivery on his website.
If you're not in New York and you'd like to purchase some of the products Douglas mentions above, please check out our Zero Proof Bottle Shop here.