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Calgary liquor stores stocking up on non-alcoholic options for Dry January

As the calendar flips to a new year, so do the habits of thousands of Calgarians who aim to remove alcohol from their lifestyle for the next month.

It’s called Dry January, and local retailers are taking note of the trend as they see increasing demand for non-alcoholic products.

From de-alcoholised wines and spirits to beer, ciders and mocktails, Vine Arts co-owner Jesse Willis says sales are increasing.

“We’ve really seen demand spike these last three years, we’ve seen more selection on the market and more people looking for it both during Dry January and throughout the year,” Willis said.

“Sometimes it’s people just looking to moderate their drinking and they want to mix in some non-alcoholic options as well, but it’s also for people hosting who are really cognizant of making sure they have something on hand for people who aren’t drinking.”

The need for non-alcoholic options is what inspired Jonathan Barembruch to start Santé Dry Bottle Shop in the summer of 2023.

“It really started with my wife getting pregnant and obviously with her reducing her alcohol intake, I wanted to support her in any way I could, so it became a passion of finding new non-alcoholic drinks.”

Barembruch has since launched online and opened an in-person shop Fridays to Sundays at the Crossroads Market (1235 26 Avenue S.E.) where he offers 100 different non-alcoholic products.

“There are so many benefits to drinking non-alcoholic drinks, a lot of consumers are looking for mood elevators so we have a selection of products with adaptogens, those roots, herbs and vegetables that can help with brain functioning,” he said. 

“Added B vitamins can help elevate your moods too, and we do have a couple of tea-based beverages as well, which will help release endorphins.”

Santé Dry Bottle Shop will be offering free local shipping for the entire month of January.

Jonathan Barembruch holds a glass of alcohol free beer.Meanwhile, other local liquor stores like Market Wines are also launching Dry January tasting events this month for customers who want to better understand and try out new alcohol-free options.

The event runs at the store’s University District location at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Store manager Kristina Munro says there’s been such high demand that another non-alcoholic tasting is also planned for Jan. 20 at 4 p.m.

“Some of the products for wine and beer have really elevated in style along with the variety of selection that is available on the market, so instead of having one option, we’re actually seeing things change in quality,” she said.

“There’s also more demand for information on these products which is what the tastings are really great for understanding what’s hot, what’s good and what maybe to avoid.”

THE BENEFITS OF GOING DRY

A local psychologist among those raising awareness about the benefits of removing alcohol from your diet as a way to increase brain functioning and overall mental health and wellness.

Canada’s new drinking guideline, released earlier this year, cautioned that the safest amount of alcohol consumed is ‘none,’ adding that anything beyond one or two ‘standard’ drinks per week could increase the risk of breast, colon or other cancers.

A ‘standard’ drink is defined as a 12-ounce glass of beer, five ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of whisky, vodka or other spirits.

The guidelines have ben widely criticized, but registered psychologist Aimee Reimer says moderation is best.

“We noticed that alcohol has an impact on our daily functioning, it could be impacting our sleep, our mood, our relationships, our motivation or our work,” she said.

“So sometimes people find that it can be really helpful to be able to cut back on their alcohol or other substance use and often they do start to notice an improvement in those areas in their life.”

Reimer advises looking to family members or friends for support, and suggests that cutting back on your alcohol consumption may make for a more manageable start instead of going cold-turkey.

“I always give clients the advice to be kind and gentle to yourself whenever we’re making big changes, and that there can be a lot of criticism that we have to ourselves,” she said.

“Maybe it doesn’t go quite how we hoped, but … Every little change helps you make that big change, and I think that can help you to make the lasting changes that you’re hoping for.”

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