No, Dry January Is Not “Pure Evil” for Bars Reeling From COVID

A new clickbait editorial from the New York Post suggests abstaining from booze for a month is a "wholly selfish endeavor"

Amusing board outside The Banker pub makes reference to the modern construct that is 'Dry January' where upon people abstain from drinking alcohol for one month on 14th January 2022 in London, United Kingdom
Lighten up about Dry January, New York Post.
Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images

An extraordinarily weird argument from Johnny Oleksinski at the New York Post posits that people engaging in “Dry January” — a voluntary, personal choice to not drink during the first month of the year — is a “slap in the face to the struggling bars and restaurants that have suffered a seemingly unending bout of COVID-19.”

Oleksinski — who seems obsessed with the Golden Globes, based on his recent writings — basically cites the lack of customers at a couple of NYC bars as proof that people are staying away from their favorite watering holes due to “self-righteous sobriety.” He also cites a Morning Consult poll that shows 19% of respondents are partaking in Dry January, up from 6% last year.

Somehow ignoring the recent effects of Omicron (which shut down the InsideHook office for over a month and has prevented yours truly, the resident spirits writer, from going to bars) while still playing up how COVID has decimated the bar industry is quite an argument. He also calls out people who go to bars and don’t order a drink due to Dry January personal commitments.

This is all clickbait, obviously. An article entitled “Will an Increasing Acceptance of Dry January Hurt Bars Still Reeling from COVID?” that then offered up some sobering reality (as we’ll outline below) wouldn’t get traction, but would probably present some interesting thoughts on the hospitality industry still needing our help, how to order non-alcoholic drinks at bars, or, really, anything better than a case that Dry January is somehow evil.

Let’s outline our counter-arguments below:

  1. It’s a voluntary choice to do Dry January.
  2. We’re probably more concerned about our health now than two years ago.
  3. We’ve been drinking a lot since COVID. And some of us (admittedly, not me, though I’m drinking less) need a full break and support from other people if we’re choosing not to drink.
  4. COVID and its variants have made going out in public, especially indoors in winter, a dicey proposition.
  5. You can order food and non-alcoholic drinks at bars, and tip well.
  6. Every other month is the opposite of Dry January. What about the poor gyms and other health establishments reeling from two years of COVID? Don’t they (sarcasm alert) deserve your support from selfish people who choose to imbibe instead?
  7. That Morning Consult poll cited in the article? It turns out more people are trying Dry January “but many aren’t aiming for total abstinence” … so people are still drinking.

The article ends with a bartender at McSorley’s — an East Village dive that didn’t allow in women patrons until 1970 — hoping Dry January turns into a boozy “No-Mask February.”

Anyway, same drinking rules apply in year three of COVID: Buy local, buy craft, tip well and, if you’re not drinking but want to support restaurants and bars, there are plenty of non-boozy alternatives to order.


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