Anyone who’s ever imbibed in one too many alcoholic beverages knows the debilitating effects of a hangover—physically and mentally.
Whether you’re someone who suffers from hangxiety (hangover anxiety) or alcohol withdrawal headaches, you’re aware that the negatives get, well, more negative with age. And when those negatives start to outweigh the initial dopamine rush and relaxation a cocktail brings on, it could be worth exploring a non-alcoholic (NA) or low-ABV beverage option.
If the very thought of this induces a light panic (Uhhh, no more whiskey?), you’re not alone. Denying a drink, when it’s culturally normative to accept one, feels like a giant buzz-kill. And up until recently, it kind of was. Those who chose not to partake were left drinking sodas, Shirley temples, or boring old water in the corner, while the rest of the group got loose and rowdier as the night went on.
Now, non-alcoholic aperitifs and adaptogen drinks have exploded onto the scene—a new, cool, aesthetically pleasing alcohol-free liquor brand stops us mid-Instagram scroll daily.
What’s Sober Curious?
These new brands come on the heels of the “sober curious” movement, a school of thought adopted by those who choose not to drink for various reasons; because of an alcohol dependency issue, because they just don’t feel like it works for them anymore, or because they need a booze break.
The result? NA brands that have created beverages just as complex as an herbaceous cocktail, or as full-bodied as a glass of red, without the effects of alcohol. Those that choose not to drink, whether for the evening or for life, have plenty of alternatives that allow the joys of bellying up to the bar and ordering something delicious and intricate, just like normal.
You’ve Got NA Options
For those that detest the word “mocktail” (raises hand), there are zero-proof elixirs and aperitifs meant to craft a tasty cocktail, sans liquor, hard seltzer-inspired soft seltzers, and even fruity, wine alternatives that pair with charcuterie boards and medium-rare steaks.
There are no-ABV drinks that come in a well-designed can akin to that of your favorite micro-brew. Pop a top without rotting your insides with sugary sodas. These range from mild, spiked seltzer-style bevs to complex elixirs, complete with herbs for a supposed added mood boost. If you perked up at the sound of this, try an adaptogen drink (adaptogens are herbs that help the body adapt to stress) with ingredients like CBD, ashwagandha, or ginseng.
Speaking of mood boosts—if you live in one of the 19 states that have legalized recreational marijuana use and you’re pro-pot, there are THC-infused seltzers and aperitifs for a little cannabis-induced buzz.
It took many attempts to get these NA alternatives right, but the 17 below did just that. Read on for our list of non-alcoholic, adaptogen drinks we’re confident you’ll love.
The 17 Best Alcohol Alternative Drinks
And by that, we mean high-quality mixers. While we wouldn’t necessarily down a glass neat (unless the brand specifically states that), these picks are infused with botanicals and natural extracts to add extra intrigue to NA cocktails. Grab a few to keep on your bar or in your fridge for an anytime, anywhere, zero-proof cocktail.
Non-Alcoholic Cocktails & Canned Drinks
Behold: The easiest replacement for beer. These canned and bottled adaptogen drinks offer a 1:1 swap in the relaxation department but come with none of the less desirable side effects (bloat, inflammation, sleep trouble, anxiety, etc.). Bring them to the tailgate, keep a six-pack in the fridge, or pour one into a frosted glass when you’re feeling fancy. The adaptogens will loosen you up and melt away stress much better than an IPA ever could.
By definition, an aperitif is an alcoholic drink taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite. But it’s more than a drink in European culture—it’s a way of life. And it’s not so much the alcohol that whets the palate; it’s the traditionally bittersweet flavors that get the tastebuds working. Why should the sober curious be denied this ancient right? These five NA-aperitif brands answer the question flawlessly.
There are a few cannabis-infused drinks worth mentioning on this list. Though they’re not technically substance-free, they are alcohol-free and offer a bit more of a relaxation effect than some of the other adaptogen-infused options on the market.