The Essentials With Hilary Sheinbaum: A Sober-Curious Workbook, Ginger Soda and Barry’s Bootcamp

'The Dry Challenge' author shares where you’ll find the best non-alcoholic beverages in New York City.

Hilary Sheinbaum. Lisa Richov

For Hilary Sheinbaum, a New Year’s Eve bet ended up changing the trajectory of her career. As a freelance reporter in New York City, Sheinbaum’s afternoons were primarily spent writing about food and beverage, while her evenings involved red carpet interviews with everyone from Brad Pitt to the Kardashians, followed by after-parties where alcohol was always in abundance. But at the end of 2016, Sheinbaum met up with a friend for dinner, where he introduced her to the concept of Dry January, a month-long challenge of abstaining from alcohol. “I thought it was ridiculous because my job was so focused on going out, and in New York, everything is centered around booze,” recalls Sheinbaum of her initial reaction. Still, a bet was proposed, rules were set out (the loser had to take the winner to the restaurant of their choosing), and Sheinbaum ended up scoring even more than a dinner at Momofuku Ko.

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“I experienced all of these amazing benefits and truly realized what it was like to sleep better,” she says of the most significant impact cutting out alcohol had on her life. “I went from sleeping four to five hours a night to sleeping seven to eight hours. My mood was better, my interactions with people were better and my diet changed because I wasn’t craving bad-for-you foods.” Though not fully sober, Sheinbaum has completed a Dry January every year since 2017, with a number of dry months in between. She also scored a book deal following her experience, The Dry Challenge, which was published in 2020 to serve as a step-by-step guide for going alcohol-free, as well as an informative introduction about its many benefits.

In addition to recruiting a friend and giving yourself some grace, Sheinbaum recommends trying out non-alcoholic beverages to successfully complete an alcohol-free month. “When I first started doing this, you really had to be in the know when it came to finding non-alcoholic options, but now there are so many great-tasting alternatives and entire menus dedicated to non-alcoholic beverages.” Also helping to make that transition easier is Sheinbaum’s newly launched GoingDry.co, which caters to planning both public and private events in the non-alcoholic space. “I’ve done events at F45 on the Lower East Side, where I partnered with Celsius to make non-alcoholic cocktails for the attendees after a workout—it’s a great way for people to come together and share common interests without alcohol,” she says of the company, which has hosted pop-up events in cities across the country.

Later this year, Sheinbaum will introduce a companion piece for her first book: a workbook for readers to track their progress with a dry challenge. “It will still have an abundance of information, but it will also allow the reader to reflect on their own lives and how drinking plays into their daily plans,” explains Sheinbaum of Going Dry, which will officially be available on September 3. “It’s a little bit more personal, and it allows the reader to evaluate where they’re at.”

From her skincare must-haves to her favorite non-alcoholic beverage, Sheinbaum shares her current essentials with Observer.

SkinMedica. SkinMedica

Morning skincare routine: 

If I’m feeling like I don’t have time for a million steps, I will just use a gentle cleanser and a facial oil and go about my day. But if I have the time, I start with Tula’s Gentle Cleanser, and then I follow with SkinMedica’s TNS Serum—it is the best! I also love their HA5 Hydrator with hyaluronic acid on days where my skin feels dry. And then I’ll just use any generic moisturizer and sunscreen that I find at the drugstore.

What she’s currently reading: 

I’m in the middle of The Joy of Funerals by Alix Strauss, which is so spot-on right now with all of the talk about the loneliness epidemic. It came out 20 years ago, when it was more taboo to talk about, but it was just re-released, and it’s really interesting that it’s so topical at the moment.

Barry’s Bootcamp. Barry's Bootcamp

Her workout routine:

I think I’m approaching 300 classes at Barry’s Bootcamp; I probably go once or twice a week. It’s so convenient, and whenever I travel it’s my go-to because I know what workout I’m getting and I know what to expect. I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to feel after or if I’m wearing the right thing. There’s also a CorePower Yoga super close to me that’s great. I did the New York City Marathon in November, and I would leave a day or two open during training to go and do a formal class, which I think was key. I’m not training for a marathon right now, but it’s still helpful to have that ability to stretch my muscles.

NYC non-alcoholic favorites:

On the Lower East Side, there is a hotel called Unlisted that has really great non-alcoholic beverages made with Free Spirits and with a brand called Fluère. There’s also a place in Brooklyn called Club Curious that is all non-alcoholic, and they have comedy shows and DJs and things. And then there is this homemade ginger soda at Via Carota that I could drink every day.

What she’s binge-watching:

I watch more movies than TV, and I definitely indulged on the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour. I was sick during a weekend recently, and I just watched it for three hours on my couch, which was just what I needed.

Paris. Margarida Louro/Unsplash

Favorite vacation spot: 

I just went to Paris recently for the first time in about 15 years, and I loved it so much that I’m already planning to go again and stay at SO/Paris. I was there for the Paris Marathon, and at the end of the race, instead of the usual apples or bagels that they have for the runners, there were croissants and chocolate croissants. I don’t know why I was shocked, but I was so happy.

What she’s traveling with: 

I only carry on, I can’t check bags. This is going to sound ridiculous, but I’ll usually wear my heaviest pieces of clothing and shoes on the plane, even if it’s a pair of boots or a layer or two of clothes. I have this Adidas bag that I always use for my additional carry-on, which has one of those straps that you can slide onto your suitcase and it stays secure on top. It’s big enough that it fits my laptop and my charger, and I always have my AirPods, a Slip silk eye mask and earplugs.

The one thing in her wardrobe she refuses to part with:

There is a pair of Stan Smith black leather sneakers I got in Germany at the Adidas store that go with everything. They have a little bit of metal hardware on them, and they have been through so many things that I should get a new pair, but I haven’t been able to find them online.

The Essentials With Hilary Sheinbaum: A Sober-Curious Workbook, Ginger Soda and Barry’s Bootcamp