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Published Dec 13, 2022 1:00 PM
The holidays can be a booze-heavy time, between bottles at family dinner(s) or popping Champagne at New Year’s. Alcohol also tends to be everyone’s favorite coping mechanism when first introduced to the extended family or just dealing with distant relatives you’d rather remain removed. However, there are better, healthier ways to cope. Moderation can improve your mental health, lower blood pressure, and, best of all, prevent a dreaded hangover and related hang-xiety … and maybe an argument or two with that cousin. Instead of snagging another beer out of the beer fridge, consider an NA beer or alternative spirit this holiday season. Even better, the best non-alcoholic drinks can be enjoyed year-round and make a great gift for a pregnant person looking for something other than seltzer to sip on. Dry January, anyone?
Note: If you have moderate to severe alcohol use disorder, please see a healthcare provider before withdrawing, as it can be quite dangerous to detox at home by yourself.
Best tequila alternative: Optimist Botanicals Smokey
This botanical spirit has woody, floral, and bitter notes, and is designed to be mixed like a premium spirit. This one specifically drinks like smooth tequila. Mix it with your favorite ginger ale and garnish with a jalapeno slice or an orange peel for a scrumptious sipper sans alcohol.
Best NA Beer: Athletic Brewing NA beer
If a fresh, cold one is more your style, Athletic Brewing has your back with its NA brews. They don’t have a bready aftertaste like other NAs; in fact, they are some of the best-tasting NAs you can buy, with the company racking up plenty of awards over the years. This 24-pack can fill the fridge so everyone can crack open one outside in the snow without the mood threatening to be cracked when too many full-strength brews make tongues loose.
Best gin alternative: Abstinence Spirits
Step up your soda water with this non-alcoholic gin from Abstinence Spirits, which uses a single-batch distillation process for careful craftsmanship and a smooth taste. Even better, the company works to preserve and protect the biodiversity of the Cape Floral Kingdom in South Africa, meaning each sip is technically environmentally responsible to make up for all the gas you used getting to your in-laws.
Best non-alcoholic aperitif: Ghia
Inspired by Mediterranean aperitivo culture—think Campari and amaro over finger food before 9 p.m. dinner in the bustling streets of Milan—Ghia is light, dry, and the right amount of bitter. Drink it on its own or combine it with a mixer of your choosing for a spritz or cocktail. If a bottle seems like too much of a commitment, check out Ghia’s transportable cans that add lime, salt, and ginger to the OG Ghia aperitif.
Best mood lifter: Crisp & Crude
These NA craft cocktails are made with botanical terpenes extracted from plants, fruits, and roots for calmness, creativity, and relaxation. You can purchase each flavor individually, but we’re fans of the variety pack that includes four cans of its three flavors: Paloma Daydream (a salty, woody grapefruit drink with Space Queen terpenes); Gold Fashioned (bitter orange, zesty dandelion, and Chocolate Thai terpenes); and Mellow Mule (ginger, citrus, and mint with Pineapple Express terpenes). Leave the joint at home and pass around a can of this instead.
Best alternative cocktail: Flyers Cocktails
These sparkling, non-alcoholic drinks are made with 20 milligrams of CBD and are inspired by cocktail menu mainstays. BKLN Gold is reminiscent of an American Bourbon cocktail thanks to its oakiness, spice, and smooth vanilla. Tokyo Marg is a citrusy Yuzu sparkler with a touch of heat. Our favorite, however, is the Sydney Spritz Highball: a bold, herbaceous blend of citrus zest, mandarin orange, and bitters.
Best bundle: Seedslip
If you’re looking for a bundle package, look no further than this one from Seedlip. It includes Seedlip Grove 43 (a citrusy, ginger, and lemongrass spirit), Seedlip Spice 94 (a waltz between allspice, cardamom, and grapefruit), and Seedlip Garden 108 (an herby promenade of peas, rosemary, and thyme). They are best served with ginger ale and a citrus peel garnish—perfect for breaking out the fancy glasses sans next-day guilt.
Best celeb-made NA: De Soi
Katy Perry is known for hits like “Teenage Dream” and “Hot N Cold,” but did you know she is also in the health and wellness biz? Not only is she an investor in apple cider vinegar giant Bragg Live Food Products, but she co-founded De Soi, an adaptogen aperitif company, in 2022. Golden Hour (above) is made with maca and L-theanine for relaxation and is great for making mocktail mules and a non-alcoholic spritz. Champignon Dreams is a bitter, earthy reishi and passion flower spirit for negroni or old-fashioned lovers. Purple Lune mixes ashwagandha, tart cherry, and botanicals to give the feel of a nightly glass of red. If bottles aren’t your style, De Soi also sells its three flavors in cans.
Best whiskey alternative: Ritual
This whiskey alternative is rated 85/100 Silver by the Beverage Testing Institute, a spirits research & review company. This makes it the highest-reviewed alcohol-free whiskey alternative. The numbers don’t lie! Vanilla and oak overtones mingle with notes of stone fruit and a little kick of heat at the end. Although it’s not meant to be sipped straight, you can use it to make an almost-NA Boulevardier or safer whiskey sour.
Best NA wine: Surely Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Rose
Some NA wines include fruit juice, but if you’re looking for something that screams more wine glass and less Welch’s, Surely’s line of dealcoholized wines is for you. It’s aged in the barrel just like its boozy counterpart, but then the alcohol is removed. The final product is a dry, full-bodied sparkling rose that pairs well with seafood and dessert—just like what someone would find at a liquor store. Coupe glasses sadly not included.