How to Drink Better in 2022

It’s hard not to feel a collective sense of déjà vu right about now. Weren’t we just here, enduring another wave as we hunkered down and thrust all our hopes and dreams onto the new year? Even if 2021 wasn’t exactly what we had hoped for, it wasn’t all bad, either. As restaurants pivoted to stay afloat, we were given a welcome crop of new-look wine clubs to quench our thirst; during the times that we were allowed past their doors, our appreciation for the dive bar only deepend. And, if nothing else, the end of this year gives us another chance to look forward—to more whiskey sours, spirit-free cocktails and all-around better drinking.

To get a sense of what 2022 might hold, we checked in with some of our favorite drinkers and asked them what they will (and won’t) be bringing with them to the new year.

My drinking resolution for the year 2022 is a vow to myself that every time I’m craving a 50/50 Martini, I will follow through and make myself one rather than settling for a glass of boxed red wine that’s been sitting on my kitchen counter for three months. To fully commit to this vow, I will also purchase myself a pair of silk, feather-adorned pants to truly embody my Martini Fantasyland (she says while wearing sweats covered in her children’s snot). Here’s to treating ourselves with a little more kindness and care.

“Never easy but always worth it” is something my favorite Peloton instructor often says about working out. But it applies equally well to hangovers. I realized this only recently when thinking back on the past year and coming to the unbelievable conclusion that I suffered exactly zero hangovers—the result of rarely being afforded the chance to overindulge. Drinking, as we all know, is enjoyable for what’s in the glass, yes, but doubly so for the people we raise a glass with. As we endure another wave of outbreaks, I’m looking forward to the chance to toast with the people who make it worth it to have one more round, even if it’s one too many. 

After suffering through the self-imposed alcohol reduction of two pregnancies, I swore to myself I would never restrict my booze intake ever again. But then the pandemic hit and I overindulged for about a year straight, and decided maybe it was time to cut back—at least midweek. Now, not only are the bags under my eyes a little less pronounced Monday through Friday, and my “cheap date” status has risen significantly, but the reduction in alcohol consumption means that when I drink, it needs to count. So my resolution for 2022 is this: Only drink the good stuff.

Aside from one very unexpected blackout (thank you, Hotel Saint Vincent), I was pretty tame in 2021. I attribute this to a steady diet of wine and sherry, and the fact that my partner and I opened a very intense wine shop pop-up for several months, which required a steady, sober hand most days. It’s also possible that a year and a half of living in New Orleans (despite lockdown) has whipped me into pretty good drinking shape. Because now that I really think about it, there was plenty of partying. Was being the operative word. So, here’s the thing: I’m pregnant. I never really understood N/A drinks before, but I do now. When you find an ingredient that really rounds out a refreshing cocktail or aperitivo beyond citrus and syrups, it’s a game changer. Shout out to Seedlip Garden, El Guapo, Amass Riverine and Kin Euphorics. Also, Athletic Brewing’s N/A beers really hit the beer spot. So, perhaps this is a lame resolution for all you not-pregnant folks out there, but I’m down to drink more spirit-less cocktails (please, just don’t call them mocktails), all while looking forward to postpartum Champagne and Margaritas.

A single copper-rimmed glass tumbler that I got as a gift two years ago is now the only presentable cocktail vessel that my partner and I have in our home, after I inadvertently sent its twin set-mate flying while trying to open a capped bottle of kombucha. (Really showing your ass here, Danny.) No one knows what 2022 might bring, so I’ll play things safe: I resolve not to serve cocktails out of the cute, sloth-faced coffee mug that I also received as a gift two years ago.

I’ve always had a thing for an old-school shaken, egg-white Whiskey Sour over ice in a big rocks glass with a lemon peel and bright cherry. After interviewing Sonny Donato, the longtime bartender at Musso & Frank’s, who played himself shaking up a Whiskey Sour for Rick Dalton (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) in Once Upon a Time In… Hollywood, I became a bit obsessed. DiCaprio’s down-on-his-luck Dalton notoriously drinks eight of them while rehearsing lines and the next morning regrets that decision while  hungover on set (“Eight goddamn fucking Whiskey Sours…”). It’s not a laudable goal by any means, but I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to recreate that moment in my own life. Five is my current record. I still have a bit of 2021 to get to eight, and then immediately regret it and resolve to make better life decisions in the new year.

Well, looking back on my resolution from last year, my predicted post-COVID rumspringa was more of a half-hearted ’springa. But as we stare down round four (five?) of all this, let’s not get too down. We did tumble out of hibernation and into the light, however fleeting. I went on vacation, drank many Martinis at places I love to drink Martinis (Bemelmans, Maison Premiere, Bamonte’s, The Bar, and, now, Gage & Tollner and Ci Siamo), got reacquainted with the frozen Margarita, drank many wines and returned to my favorite neighborhood bars. But I’ll take the full ’springa, with the rum, in 2022, thank you very much. Let’s try this one more time, with feeling.

I definitely say this every year—actually, I say this every time I go out: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I aim to start with a glass of water and to sip through a few other glasses between cocktails. It never happens! A second serving of water never happens, so the next day I face a 12-hour hangover. Since I can’t seem to get it together, I’ve decided to quit my neat whiskeys and tequila shots and have more cocktails on the rocks, with coconut water or seltzer mixed in.

At home, the plan is to get that wine fridge—which I’m going to need if I follow through on another resolution: making a sustained effort to explore importers who’ve sparked my interest. When I’m out, the goal will be to stop asking for “the grossest, bitterest, most medicinal thing you’ve got” at the end of a long dinner, because it’s time to finally learn about the wide, wonderful world of amaro (and have some self-respect).

My drinking resolution for 2022 is, truthfully, only indirectly about drinking. I am one of the recent omicron-variant COVID cases, and while my illness was very mild, I did lose my sense of smell and most of my sense of taste. Despite the deficiencies, after the worst had passed my muscle memory kicked in: Glad to have survived the plague, particularly after all these months of worry and stress and layered precautions, I poured myself a celebratory “you’re not sick anymore” Scotch. Nothing special—just a midgrade, peaty dram with a small ice cube—and, boy, will I … never do that again. I had a mouthful of what can most closely be described as “sucking on a kerosene-soaked chunk of charred Ikea particle board.” All my nose could pick up was the oily inverse of a good go-to drink, like ordering a cocktail in the Upside-Down. So my resolution is manifold: Definitely don’t get COVID again; cherish an intact sense of smell like the miracle it is; and never, ever, try to drink something I love when I’m literally incapable of experiencing it with even a whisper of pleasure.

In 2022—fates of our collective health willing—I resolve to host as many loose and giddy bacchanals disguised as “dinner parties” with all of my friends and loved ones as possible. All of the bottles I’ve been hoarding over the pandemic have started to precariously strain the reasonable limits of NYC apartment storage space, and I can think of no higher calling than to foist them upon my kind, semibuzzed friends, new and old. The only rules are: Come thirsty, bring dessert (I cannot be bothered and have no intent to change) and plan to stay at least three hours past bedtime.

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