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How to enjoy Dry January in Chi

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_


‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’re trying to eat healthier, exercise more, or not drink alcohol

U.S. alcohol sales increased during the pandemic, totaling $41.9 billion between March and September 2020 — 20% higher than that same period the previous year, according to a Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health study.

Alcohol alternatives are becoming popular, too. 

Non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic beverages saw a 315% increase in online sales in the last year, Chicago-based data analytic group Nielsen IQ found. 

And local restaurateurs and distributors want some of that money.

Patrons can sip on loose teas and kombucha at Eli Tea Bar, a sober bar that opened in Andersonville last month. 

Customers can order the alcohol-free Hummingbird at Virtue, a Hyde Park restaurant. 

Ritual Zero Proof in Lakeview makes and distributes alcohol alternatives.

💛 Planning to abstain from alcohol this month for Dry January? Join the Queer Sober Social club or women’s sober-curious Meetup group

🍹 Make yourself some mocktails.


The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago has been around for nearly 170 years. And some of that age is showing. 

The place where you can play basketball, learn to swim, get child care, or find temporary housing saw membership decline before the pandemic. 

🎧 Listen to Dorri McWhorter, the Y’s new leader, share her plans for the organization and why she thinks it’s where everyone belongs.


▪️ CPS classes are canceled today after CTU voted Tuesday night to work remotely amid clashes with the district over COVID-19 safety protocols. [Chicago Sun-Times’ Nader Issa; City Cast Chicago]

▪️ The landlord of a Kenwood apartment building could be fined $800,000 for not fixing unsafe living conditions. [Block Club Chicago]

▪️ Is age more than a number? A new Northwestern study might find out. [Chicago Tribune]

▪️ All hail the pizza puff 🙌 [Chicago Magazine; City Cast Chicago]


Parents, what are you doing with classes canceled? How do you feel about returning to school amid the omicron surge?

Respond to this email directly or email You can also text us or leave a voicemail at (773) 780-0246. 

We might feature your response in a future podcast or newsletter.


+ THURSDAY: Chicago Obscura in Lakeview
Hear about local aviation pioneers at the Old Chicago Inn Thursday at 7 p.m. 

+ FRIDAY: Artist city grants deadline
Individual artists can apply for project grants by Friday at 5 p.m.

+ SATURDAY: Cheese fortune-telling virtual workshop
Bring moldy cheese and see what the future holds Saturday at 2 p.m. 🧀🔮


Englewood native Dion Dawson fed more than 100 families across Chicago last year.

Now, he’s trying to raise $250,000 by the end of the month to serve 250 households in 2022 through his nonprofit, Dion’s Chicago Dream. 

He told City Cast about his own experiences with food insecurity and why he always includes grapes in his deliveries. 

“Grapes aren’t cost effective — that is why you don’t see them given out. They’re too expensive. I make sure I put them in every day because people like grapes,” he said. 

What. A. Gem 🥺

💌 Donate to Dion’s Chicago Dream if you can.

A Black man, Dion, stands in a green sweatshirt, jeans, and boots by a white community fridge that is open and full of fresh produce. Snow is on the ground. A car, tree, and short building is in the background on a sunny day.
Credit: Dion’s Chicago Dream Instagram

A yellow cartoon duck does a happy dance.

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