The idea of a “dry” January after all the excesses of the Yuletide season is nothing new.

Neither are the hopes of generation after generation that it will do some good as a long term health strategy.

Personally I don’t get it. What’s the point in drinking nothing for a month if in February in a pique of self-righteous indulgence you return to bad habits? What’s the point of stopping in the first place if you don’t have a problem with drinking too much?

Moderation after all is the best way isn’t it?

Ian Hamilton, a lecturer on substance misuse at York University summed it up well in the national press recently: “Dry January risks sending out a binary, all or nothing, message about alcohol – that is, either participate by abstaining or carry on as you are.”

A £900 cost

Funnily enough this article isn’t actually about moralising about alcohol. I’m far more concerned about the law of unintended consequences.

Just think of the effect on the licensed trade. January is bad enough anyway as a trading period, given the collective empty coffers of imbibers, without a significant percentage of your trade effectively boycotting your business.

Jess Gardham plays the Golden Ball this month. Photograph: David Sault

The average British drinker goes to the pub once per month according to research – so that’s potentially two million people not spending on average £20 including food in their local. That’s around £880 less per pub in takings.

Then there’s the knock-on effects to the supply chain associated with a pub – the breweries that supply the beer; wine merchants; the local food companies that supply meat, vegetables and assorted ingredients plus the cut in shifts for the staff who aren’t needed to cover uncommonly quiet periods.

Support your local!

As if pubs haven’t enough to contend with the rest of the year round, with the bulk discounting of the supermarkets undercutting them on price and the avaricious and manipulative practices of the pub companies forever hacking away at their profit margins with high rents and overpriced beer lists.

Not to mention the thousands of pubs that the big pub companies are looking to sell off for change of use and redevelopment that will be lost for ever.

So come on you good people of York – don’t abandon your local for a month.

After all it’s a good excuse for getting out of the house. And if you must give up the hard stuff then why not try a good non-alcoholic beer or a soft drink?

You gotta know when to hold ’em… Several pubs are holding poker nights in January. Photograph © shoobydooby on Flickr

The local hostelry is about far more than alcohol anyway. It’s about socialising and bonhomie.

So in my book it’s not Dry January but Try January. Try a new beer; try a new cocktail; try a new wine, try a new dish – but above all try a pub, new or old and keep our much celebrated York pubs and bars alive.

To help you on your way here’s a selection of what’s to be found in the pubs and bars in York over the next few weeks or so…

Monday

Music at Golden Ball (Open Mic); Victoria Vaults, Nunnery Lane; The Phoenix, George St
Darts and dominoes at The Cross Keys, Tadcaster Rd

Tuesday

Quizzes at Snickleway, Goodramgate, The Golden Ball, York
Music at Sotano (Open Mic); Victoria Vaults
National Poker League at The Knavesmire
Poker night at the Fox, Holgate Road

Wednesday

Quizzes at Cross Keys, Tadcaster Rd; The Hop, Fossgate, The Swan, Bishopthorpe Rd; Wellington, Alma Terrace; Last Drop Inn, Colliergate; Red Lion, Merchantgate
Music at The Habit (Open Mic); The Phoenix (Jazz Jam) Victoria Vaults (Open Mic)

Thursday

Quizzes at The Fox, Holgate Road; The Rook & Gaskill, Lawrence St;
Music at Victoria Vaults; 3 Legged Mare (Open Mic); Eagle & Child, Petergate;
Pool, darts and billiards at The Knavesmire
Curry night at Cross Keys, Tadcaster Rd

Friday

Music at The Habit, Goodramgate; Victoria Vaults; Old White Swan, Goodramgate; Snickleway;

Saturday

Music at The Habit, Goodramgate, The Snickleway, Goodramgate, The Hop, Fossgate, Volunteer Arms, Watson St, The Habit, Victoria Vaults

Sunday

Quizzes at Volunteer Arms, Watson St
Music at The Hop, Fossgate (Open Mic); Kennedy’s, Little Stonegate, Sotano, Little Stonegate; Victoria Vaults; The Phoenix
National Poker League at The Knavesmire

Special events and offers

Chris Sherratt behind the bar at the Woolpack. Photographs: Sam Preece

The Woolpack
Jan 12 Launch of the Revolutions new core range of beers in the form of a special tap takeover. This event also marks the official re-opening of the Fawcett Street pub and is an opportunity to try several completely new beers.
Jan 27 and 28 Mini beer festival as part of Veganuary. A selection of vegan beers from superb independent breweries will be on offer plus vegan food.

Golden Ball
Jan 19 Jess Gardham performs an acoustic gig
Jan 28 Rare soul and old R’n’B vinyl at Soul Provision.

The Fox
Jan 25 To mark Burn’s Night The Fox has live music from David Ward Maclean, offers on its new malt whisky range and haggis-based bar snacks.

The Minster Inn
January Free bottle of Warsteiner or a soft drink with each pizza purchased.

Nick Love

Nick Love

As well as being a writer for YorkMix, Nick is presenter of Vale Radio's Classical Collection, a beer campaigner and musician, as well as being active in the city's politics