UK pubs push back against 'Dry January' campaign

Bottoms up: Cocktail bar group Be At One is urging customers to sample different products.
Bottoms up: Cocktail bar group Be At One is urging customers to sample different products.

A "Try January" movement encourages drinkers to experiment instead of abstaining

LONDON — The United Kingdom's pub and bar industry is hitting back at efforts to encourage teetotalism throughout this month by launching a campaign called "Try January," which urges customers to try different drinks (and food) rather than abstain totally.

The initiative, whose name is a reference to the "Dry January" campaign initiated by the country's nonprofit Alcohol Concern, has been pioneered by London-based cocktail bar chain Be At One and gained support from groups including Punch Taverns, Charles Wells, Brakspear, The Laine Pub Company, Craft Beer Co, MeatLiquor and North Bar, as well as independent pubs.

It is being backed by trade magazine the Publican’s Morning Advertiser, which is urging bar operators to promote it via the hashtag #TryJanuary, applying it to food as well as alcohol.

As part of the campaign, Be At One is using a feature on its smartphone app called Be Appventurous where guests shake their phone to generate a random cocktail suggestion which they can get for £5. The offer, which is usually only valid once a day, will be available for an hour every day in the month of January in the hour after the regular happy hour.

Be At One marketing manager Sarah Swaysland said: "We’ve launched the Try January campaign because we believe that the New Year shouldn’t be about completely abstaining; it should be about new beginnings and trying new things – in this case, finding your new favourite cocktail."

Cancer Research UK is encouraging people to give up alcohol for January and raise money for the charity under the new slogan "Dryathalon."

This article first appeared on

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