Wine News Wine Unfazed by Threat of Dry January

Wine Unfazed by Threat of Dry January

Non-alcoholic drinks might be popular in January, but not during the holidays.
© iStock | Non-alcoholic drinks might be popular in January, but not during the holidays.
The fad for Dry January could have a bigger impact on some sectors than others.
By W. Blake Gray | Posted Monday, 28-Dec-2020

More than half of urban American adults plan to try to spend a "dry January" without alcohol next year, according to results of an online survey commissioned by Bacardi.

That's not the only result from the survey that won't please Bacardi, which may be why it took two months to release the results. There is one huge bright spot: 56 percent of respondents say they plan to drink more wine next year, and 53 percent said they plan to drink more cocktails. In contrast, 51 percent said they plan to drink less beer

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The study, conducted by Perspectus Global in early October, asked 2015 people from 11 urban areas a number of questions about their plans for the holiday season and for 2021. Of the respondents, 34 percent were in New York City, 15 percent were in Chicago and 12 percent were in Miami. Only eight states were represented. But to be fair, urban areas consume more than our share of booze.

Bacardi tried to find a positive in the survey; its email announcing it said: "Cocktails now more popular than Champagne for New Year's Eve." That has always been true in the US, unless you count "California Champagne," but the survey doesn't actually say that. It does say 57 percent of respondents plan to drink fewer "sparkling drinks (such as Champagne or prosecco)" this holiday season.

In reading the questions and answers, it's important to remember that Bacardi owns Grey Goose vodka, Patrón Tequila, Dewar's Scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin and Martini vermouth. Rum drinks did very poorly on the survey, which makes Bacardi's diversification over the last 20 years seem prescient.

Question: When making cocktails this holiday season, what will be your spirit of choice?

Answers, in order: Vodka, Whisky, "Other", Tequila, White rum. Even though multiple answers were allowed, vermouth finished dead last on this question, which is a damn shame if you know something about cocktails.

Question: Which of the following cocktails are you most likely to enjoy this holiday season?

Answers, in order: Holiday punch, Espresso Martini (!?!), Old Fashioned, Moscow Mule, Whisky High Ball, Gin & Tonic, Bloody Mary, Spiked Eggnog. This list shows how little the respondents like vermouth, as it doesn't pop up until drink No.15, the Manhattan. I don't know about your town, but in San Francisco I'm always reading about Negronis, and now I realize I live in a Negroni bubble, as it finished 17th, behind Classic Snowball, which I don't even know what that is. (UPDATE: I just looked it up, and it's made with Dutch egg liqueur. Ewww. Americans like THAT more than Negronis? I'll stay in the Negroni bubble, thank you.)

Going dry

The dry January stats are broken down by age, gender and region. Of the 55 percent of respondents who say they plan to observe it, 35 percent say they do it every year, and the remaining 20 percent say it will be their first time.

Good luck, first timers. The average length of time people attempting a dry January make it is 21.4 days. (January has 31 days, although it's possible that some of these days came in after the election and should not be counted; attorneys have already filed motions to throw out January 22-31 entirely.) Women make it 23.9 days whereas men make it only 19.5 (reasons it's good to be a man: higher pay for the same job AND 4.4 more days of drinking). Surprisingly, the age group with the most willpower is 25-34 (22.9 days).

Dry January sufferers in Chicago make it the longest (24.5 days), though it's possible it's just too cold to go out to the liquor store earlier. New Yorkers know all about busted resolutions; they make it a nation-weakest 19.3 days. Dry January? Fuggedaboudit.

I like questions that don't turn out the way the company that paid for the survey intended. When asked "what do you look forward to on the festive holiday table?" the most popular item was turkey (48 percent). Very sensibly IMHO, pie came in second at 40 percent, followed by stuffing (38 percent) and "anything and everything chocolate" (37 percent.) Refugees from Brexit and people suffering anosmia placed fruit cake next (31 percent), ahead of cranberry sauce and candy (both 24 percent.) Surely Bacardi didn't hope for "Eggnog or Coquito" to place dead last (15 percent.)

There are a few interesting questions on the survey that don't involve alcohol. Some highlights:

* 35 percent of respondents plan to "handmake more gifts this year", and 18 percent plan to "spend more than usual on gifts this year", while only 8 percent say they won't be giving gifts.

* When asked which they are secretly thrilled to NOT participate in this year, 40 percent said the office Christmas party; 37 percent said "family arguments"; and 25 percent said traveling home for the holidays. A lonely, or perhaps no-longer-lonely, 11 percent said "finding someone to kiss under the mistletoe at midnight on New Year's Eve". (Note to self: look into an investigative story on declining mistletoe sales during pandemic.)

* 67 percent of respondents plan on buying themself a gift this year, with an average price of $266 ($296 for men; $222 for women. Is anyone surprised?) Top three reasons: "It's been a rough year and I need to treat myself"; "I have worked really hard and deserve a reward"; and my personal favorite, "F*ck it, it's Christmas!" (sic).

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