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HomeLife In the BerkshiresDry January offers...

Dry January offers plenty of opportunities for socializing, good food

If you count yourself among the 1 in 5 Americans estimated to be taking part in Dry January, don’t despair; the local food scene might just be enough to satiate your need for heading out for a night on the town sans alcohol.

Great Barrington — I finally made my way to Mooncloud on Saturday night; I was elated to check out downtown’s newest cocktail lounge in person as opposed to via Instagram as I’d been doing since its mid-December opening. I’m not much of a drinker anymore, but it took little more than the sight of Billy Jack Paul behind the bar and the thought of a Luxardo cherry to order a whiskey sour — topped with froth from real egg whites, no less. And then it hit me: It’s Dry January. In fact, we are smack dab in the middle of a month in which, for some reason or another, it’s become trendy not to drink.

Britt Plante of Sheffield. Photo courtesy Berkshire School

My little brother and his girlfriend have been observing Dry January for several years. “I mostly stop [drinking] in January to recharge and shift perspective,” Andrew told me from his home in Burlington, Vermont. “For me, it’s mostly just about taking a break after imbibing to excess around the holidays,” he added in a nod to the ostensibly overindulgent period between Thanksgiving and the various winter holidays that follow. Britt Plante of Sheffield, agrees. “Starting a new year with a fresh mindset has always felt good,” she said. “I’ve held off from wetting my whistle in the month of January for seven years,” she added when I bumped into her at the Railroad Street bar where she was sipping a Safe Haven — one in a pair of craft “mocktails” on the menu consisting of fresh pineapple, ginger, cinnamon, lime and bubbles.

A mocktail at Mooncloud in Great Barrington, right in the midst of Dry January. Photo courtesy Mooncloud

Most research concludes there isn’t any major health benefit to a month off of booze, as most people return to drinking at the same frequency come February. Rather, like Plante says, “it feels like a fun challenge, [one that is] relatively light-hearted.” So if you count yourself among the 1 in 5 Americans estimated to be taking part in Dry January, don’t despair; the local food scene might just be enough to satiate your need for heading out for a night on the town sans alcohol. As the latter two weeks of the month commence, a bunch of local restaurants are looking to lull locals with mid-week prix fixe menus to keep you socializing and connected, with or without alcohol. And some are opening their doors for a REALLY good cause.

Shout Out to Dine Out: January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and Jeanet Ingalls is spreading the word. The founder of Shout Out Loud Productions Inc., a not-for-profit organization committed to elimination of and education about sex trafficking, is once again sponsoring Dine Out nights at some of the area’s favorite restaurants to raise funds for education programs. Please inquire at each restaurant as to the establishment’s parameters for taking part. This year’s dates include:

Wednesday, Jan. 15: Alta Restaurant and Wine Bar, Lenox
Thursday, Jan. 16: Frankie’s Ristorante, Lenox
Wednesday, Jan. 22: Methuselah, Pittsfield
Thursday, Jan. 23: cafeADAM, Great Barrington
Thursday, Jan. 24: Olde Heritage Tavern, Lenox
Wednesday, Jan. 29: Tito’s Mexican Grill, Pittsfield
Thursday, Jan. 30: Firefly Gastropub & Catering Company, Lenox

John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant, South Egremont: Chef Dan Smith is offering a regional Italian prix fixe menu Thursday, Jan. 16, for $30 per person. This additional menu includes three courses and offers diners choices that include crispy fried artichoke hearts with roasted garlic aioli and local mushroom lasagne with prosciutto and parmesan crema. My gut tells me these menus will be ongoing each week; check the website for details.

Zagat calls the midweek dinner special at the Old Inn on the Green in New Marlborough ‘the best bargain in the Berkshires.’ Photo courtesy Old Inn on the Green

Old Inn on the Green, New Marlborough: Dine by candlelight with Chef Peter Platt’s Fireside Ambience Welcome Menu available Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday — featuring choice of appetizer, entree and dessert — for $46 per person. Zagat calls it, “The best bargain in the Berkshires.”

No. 10, Great Barrington: Unwind, celebrate and explore with the midweek three-course prix fixe menu featuring connoisseur portions of the downtown eatery’s most popular offerings. Choices range from a wedge salad to Cuban egg rolls to start and include mains from petite filet mignon to wild mushroom risotto, plus a trio of desserts. Available Sunday-Thursday, $29 per person.

Gedney Farm, New Marlborough: Take a figurative journey to varied cuisines of the world, from Spain, Peru and Vietnam to Creole Louisiana. This $50-per-person fixed menu is available Saturday evenings Feb. 10-March 28.

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