There are a variety of ways to approach alcohol alternative drinks. While you may want to watch the sugar and calorie content on some of these options, almost any non-alcoholic beverage will be broadly healthier than one with a significant alcoholic content, especially if those alternatives help you avoid alcohol abuse.
Here are some alcohol alternatives to consider:
Some people enjoy the taste of spirits, such as gin, whiskey, and rum. One option you can consider if you want the taste of these drinks but are avoiding alcohol is trying a non-alcoholic version. There are a variety of non-alcoholic spirits to choose from at a variety of price points, all with no risk of a hangover or other negative effects related to alcohol.
A mocktail is a fun name for the many varieties of mixed drinks meant to replicate the taste of a cocktail but without any alcoholic component. Like with alcoholic cocktails, these drinks can vary in prep time and come in many different styles and flavors, depending on what you’re looking for.
This fun salted watermelon juice recipe from Bon Appétit takes only minutes to make, requiring just some watermelon and kosher salt.
Simple Soda Mixes
Some people prefer to avoid trying to directly replicate the taste of alcoholic beverages when seeking alternatives. One very common choice is trying a simple mix of soda water and your preferred juice. You can try mixing it with cranberry juice or adding a dash of lime.
You can also try drinking soda water on its own, with or without ice. Many non-drinkers default to a simple club soda, which is a good option if you find yourself at a location that mostly serves alcohol because many bars and similar venues will still offer it.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink, often flavored with spices, that mixes a carbonated fizz with a sweet-and-sour flavor. While fermenting does inherently mean it contains alcohol, it isn’t an “alcoholic” beverage, with a negligible alcohol content that would not generally result in an alcoholic “buzz” even if you drank much more than normal.
Other Options to Consider
If you’re avoiding alcohol, you can also try a significant departure from the general flavor of alcoholic beverages. While it’s important to maintain a balanced, nutritious diet, these are some fun options you can try on occasion:
- Fruit smoothies
- Fruit juices
Even better is simply drinking a refreshing glass of water.
Tips to Reduce Your Drinking
If you’re looking to reduce your drinking, here are some tips to consider:
- Know what triggers your desire to drink. Then, avoid those triggers when possible.
- Try to maintain an alcohol-free house, and set days where you won’t drink any alcohol.
- Measure your alcohol intake, not just your “number of drinks,” as different beverages have different amounts of alcohol.
- Alternate drinks, drinking one non-alcoholic drink for every alcoholic drink you consume.
- Don’t drink alcohol to quench your thirst. Instead, choose water.
- Seek help if you can’t stop drinking more than you would want to or alcohol is actively damaging your quality of life.
One especially important tip to remember is that breaking a period of sobriety doesn’t have to represent a “floodgate” moment where you suddenly start regularly abusing alcohol again. While people who struggle with alcohol abuse are generally encouraged not to drink at all, slips happen.
If you’ve been avoiding alcohol and then have a drink, you can still avoid alcohol as best you can in that moment and then continue your sobriety in the morning or when you next have the ability to resist that temptation. You don’t “lose” when you have an alcoholic beverage, and it doesn’t have to represent any kind of major reset of your progress in overcoming alcohol abuse or addiction.
Relapse is often part of the recovery process. You can continue working to resist drinking and making the healthiest choices possible regardless of how long it has been since your last drink. The important part is to get back on track as soon as possible.
- 13 Non-Alcoholic Spirits That'll Lift Your Mood—Without The Hangover. (July 2021). Delish.
- 25 Booze-Free Mocktail Recipes That Aren’t Just Juice. (November 2020). Bon Appétit.
- Salted Watermelon Juice. (August 2018). Bon Appétit.
- Tips on Cutting Down. (November 2018). UK NHS.
- Tips to Reduce Your Drinking. Cancer Council Victoria.
- The Impact on Selection of Non-Alcoholic vs Alcoholic Drink Availability: An Online Experiment. (May 2020). BMC Public Health.
- From Dry January to Fake Cocktails, Inside the New Temperance Movement. (July 2022). The Washington Post.
- Don't Call Them Mocktails. (December 2016). The New York Times.