By Steve Hubrecht

[email protected]

The new year is already a month old. So too are new year’s resolutions, for those that have managed to keep them so far. 

Refraining from alcohol for the first month of the year has been an increasingly popular New Year’s resolution for some time now. So much so that the term ‘Dry January’ has been used for the past decade or so to describe the phenomenon.

Participation is high: a Morning Consult poll a few weeks ago outlined that 21 per cent of adults in the US (where the poll was conducted) had either outright stopped or significantly reduced their alcohol consumption this January. That’s a six per cent increase compared with January 2023. It also means one in five drinking age adults are taking part in Dry January. A Forbes report suggested younger generations — especially Millennials and Generation Z — are driving the trend. The Pioneer did not unearth any statistics for Canadian participation in Dry January in 2024. But a Statista report for January 2023 on Canadians participating in Dry January echoed trends south of the border, with younger generations leading the charge here as well (63 per cent of Dry January participants in Canada were either Millennials or Generation Z).

In the Columbia Valley, local pub operators say Dry January is definitely a trend and added it’s one they support. Many pubs, bars and restaurants try to help those abstaining from or cutting back alcohol by offering non-alcoholic drinks. That goes well beyond just having some extra orange juice and club soda on hand, however, with a burgeoning number of mocktails and non-alcoholic beers on offer.

“We’ve always encouraged Dry January and anyone who doesn’t want to drink alcohol,” said Ullr Bar owner Richard Matthews. “If somebody is doing something to better themselves, we are supportive of that . . . I’ve done Dry January. Most of our staff at Ullr have done it. It’s a good thing for everyone to do at some point.”

Matthews said that from what he sees, Dry January is driven in the valley by the younger generations (as it is in Canada and the U.S.). Matthews said that when he was a teenager, drinking alcohol was definitely seen as something cool and was frequently done as “power drinking” in large quantities at house parties. “But the younger generation is much more aware of abusive drinking, and of being responsible. And they have more access to information about health and wellness in general. It’s a really good thing,” he said.

Ullr carries a lot of non-alcoholic beers of different varieties (IPAs, ales, blondes and more) and a full selection of mocktails, explained Matthews.

“You don’t have to have just a glass of water if you’re out during Dry January. You can, of course, have water, but some people do feel a bit socially different if everyone around them is drinking and they are not. You can have a non-alcoholic drink,” said Matthews. “They taste great and you’ll have just as much fun as your friends who are drinking.”

Station Pub owner Ryan Karl said that he too sees more adults abstaining from alcohol than ever before. “Dry January has been more popular this year than last year. It is growing,” said Karl.

As a result the Station Pub doubles up on non-alcoholic beers such as Corona Sunbrew and mocktails.

“Non-alcoholic cocktails are definitely a trend. We offer them because we want to support those who are choosing to make that lifestyle change. It’s a good thing for people to try,” he said.