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Mocktail Mastery: Healthy, Non-Alcoholic Drinks!

Have you ever wanted to change your relationship with alcohol?

Or have you ever thought about going alcohol-free for a period of time, but are concerned about how it will affect your social life?

Or maybe you don’t want to give up all those tasty refreshing drinks?!

We have had mocktails on our list of coaching tip ideas for a while.  Then, one of our amazing Eat REAL America members, Jenny, gave us an encouraging kick in the rear!  She wrote us talking about the challenges she has faced as she has learned more about what alcohol does to her body, yet feeling the pressures to drink in social settings and around other people.

Jenny shared what she has done and how she has overcome those peer pressures.  She has gained a whole new appreciation for non-alcoholic drinks.  Now when she goes out with friends, she feels so much better knowing how she will get home, how well she sleeps and how she feels the next day.

We also changed our relationship with alcohol over a year ago.  You may recall our coaching tip where we talked about what led to our decision and some of the ways alcohol can adversely affect your health.

So, this week we want to provide you with some inspiration to enjoy delicious, refreshing AND HEALTHY non-alcoholic drinks!  Keep reading for ideas you can enjoy at home as well as tips when you are out at bars and restaurants and in those social situations.

It’s all about the ingredients!

Let’s start with some basics on ingredients.  If you are anything like us, we were confused about all the different waters, syrups, mixers, and bitters that go into these drinks.

Water:  The best choice is seltzer water, which has carbonated water as the only ingredient.  When you are looking at sparkling water, it’s important to read the ingredients because some are just carbonated water and natural flavoring, while others contain artificial sweeteners and preservatives.  Club soda can be a decent choice but know that it typically has ingredients that add sodium.  The ones to limit or avoid include ginger ale, ginger beer and tonic water because they are typically loaded with added sugars (often high fructose corn syrup) or artificial sweeteners, and questionable ingredients.  For example, according to Canada Dry’s website, an 8 oz serving of its tonic water has 35 grams of added sugar (almost 9 tsp!).


Whole fruit: let your imagination run wild!  Whether blended into a frozen drink, “muddled” into a mixed drink, or added as a garnish, fruits are fantastic ingredients in healthy, non-alcoholic drinks.  And by using the whole fruit, you get the benefit of the fiber too.

Fruit juice:  a little fruit juice is a key ingredient in many refreshing beverages.  Just make sure it is 100% juice, without any added sugars or artificial sweeteners.  If you use the juice from fresh fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges, these will add amazing flavor.  And, it is usually best to stay away from pre-made drink mixes, including most water flavoring drops, which are often loaded with a variety of undesirable ingredients.

Fresh herbs and spices:  you will be amazed how much flavor can come from adding some fresh mint, fresh basil or fresh ginger.  But don’t stop there!  Rosemary, thyme and other fresh herbs can also add delicious flavor to your drinks.  And don’t forget to “muddle” them like in the Mojito Mocktail.

Simple syrup:  Many cocktails call for sweetness from simple syrup because it blends easier than just adding honey or sugar.  It’s super easy to make your own (then you know exactly what is in it!).  We like to make a Homemade Honey Simple Syrup:  add 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup of honey (or a 2:1 ratio of water to honey) in a small saucepan and simmer on low heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the honey is dissolved.  Let cool and store in a covered container or mason jar in the refrigerator – it will last for several weeks.  You can also add flavor to your syrup by adding your favorite fruits, herbs or spices while it is simmering.  With sweeteners like this, you can start by adding a small amount to your drink, and then add more if desired.

Aromatic bitters:  these are a mixture of herbs, spices and botanicals that are typically made with alcohol.  Only a few dashes are required to enhance the flavor in drinks and recipes, so the alcohol content in a drink is insignificant.  Because aromatic bitters are considered a food product, in most states you don’t have to be 21 years old to buy them.  If you are trying to avoid even one single drop of alcohol, you can find aromatic bitters made with no alcohol.  They are not all created equal, so be sure to read the ingredients on these too.  Aromatic bitters will add a delicious unique flavor to all kinds of drinks, salad dressings, sauces, and more.



With these ingredients at your fingertips, you can easily make some super-refreshing mocktails — what a great way to inspire your family and friends!


A few examples include:

Margarita Mocktail

Mojito Mocktail

Strawberry Daiquiri Mocktail

Lemon Drop Mocktail

Cosmopolitan Mocktail

Tropical Island Breeze Mocktail

Bloody Mary Mocktail

Old Fashioned Mocktail



A lot of progress since O’Doul’s!

When non-alcoholic beers first hit the mainstream market, O’Doul’s was one of the few options readily available.  It was criticized by many because it didn’t have much complexity or depth in its flavor.

Now, there is a large and growing variety of non-alcoholic beers from virtually all of the major breweries.  You can typically find them wherever you buy beer, including many grocery stores, convenience stores and liquor stores.  Most of these beers have less than 0.5% alcohol, although there are some (often referred to as “hop water”) that have no alcohol.

We were inspired to try some of these non-alcoholic beers in doing our research for this coaching tip.  Twist our arm, right?!  We were so pleasantly surprised…actually shocked by how far they have come!  We tried several varieties from Athletic Brewing, which has become a big player in this space.  Their IPA and Hazy IPA had great flavor and paired well with our meals.  And even their “Lite” beer was light and refreshing (and it has only 25 calories).

We also tried some of the Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher sparkling hop waters.  They have just a very slight hoppy flavor, and they were a nice cool and refreshing treat on a hot summer day.  Just know that they are quite a bit more expensive than the naturally flavored sparking waters.

We haven’t tried them yet, but a growing number of alcohol-free wines and spirits such as gin, vodka and rum are now hitting the scene as well!


“We can still have fun!”

Let’s face it.  In many circles, there is a perception that someone who doesn’t drink is a “teetotaler” or isn’t as much fun.  This is changing.  People are realizing the health effects of alcohol, and many are switching to non-alcoholic alternatives.  There are even bars now that serve exclusively non-alcoholic beverages.

Many of us love going out with family and friends, laughing and enjoying live music, savoring dinner together, or just hanging around a group of fun people.  Maybe this will inspire you to try different non-alcoholic beers or mixed drinks with your friends and experience this journey together discovering how much fun you can have even without the alcohol!


Here are some tips for when you are out at bars or restaurants or just out on the town:


  • Ask the bartender to transform your favorite drink into a non-alcoholic version.  In most cases, they are happy to do so!  If you want, you can even keep this between you and bartender – no one else needs to know!
  • Seltzer and club soda are good options.  Ask them to add a splash of your favorite juice and some fresh herbs.  A bartender once provided some advice – when ordering a non-alcoholic drink, he said to reorder it as a club soda with a splash of pineapple juice and a lime – that way, he would only have to charge for a club soda.
  • Ask the bartender if he or she can add some muddled herbs or fruits to the drink to unleash even more flavor.
  • If you like the flavor that aromatic bitters add to your drink, ask the bartender to add a couple splashes.
  • A lot of drinks will have flavored simple syrups.  They can add a nice sweetness, but just remember that a little goes a long way.
  • Limit sodas, tonic water, ginger ale, ginger beer or pre-made drink mixes.  Remember, these are loaded with undesirable ingredients.
  • If you are drinking alcohol, alternate with non-alcoholic drinks as well.  You may find they are just as refreshing and decide to stick with more of the non-alcoholic alternatives.  And as always, enjoy in moderation!


Thank you, Jenny, for your inspiration and contributions to this coaching tip!


If you have a story or experience others would benefit from – or if you have a favorite mocktail – please share!



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