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The Best Non-Alcoholic Beer, Wine, And “Liquor” I Am Into… And What Alternatives I Opt For To Help Cope Through The Winter

I, like many people, overindulge during the long and hectic Halloween-to-Christmas months and then like to hibernate in January/Feb to reset (and undo some lifestyle damage). I don’t really opt into NA drinks except when friends are over and they are drinking because then I want to feel like I’m on the same plane with them. While all “experts” agree that abstaining from alcohol completely is best for your health, with “moderation” coming in second, for some of us (ahem, me) I find that moderation isn’t my strength, and restricting myself with boundaries and discipline is an enjoyable and effective way to reset after the holidays. Last year, I was fully dry in January (fine, barring one moderate night with my MIL while Brian was out of town for 10 days) and y’all I found that with the right tools (delicious soups, good books, baths, some gummies, the sauna blanket, a lot of yoga, walks, and some NA drinks) I actually really enjoy and indulge in the reset. I want to be clear, being strict about most things isn’t necessary and is a specific personality type, of which I fall into – it is more of a personality flaw, but one that I have learned to manage in a healthy way. In the name of finding some substitutes (mostly on the weekends should we have people over), I tried all of the above. And while more has come out in the last year I figured I’d share which ones were my favorites.

1. Best Day Brewing Kölsch Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer | 2. Wellbeing Non-Alcoholic Intentional IPA | 3. Crux NO MO Non-Alcoholic IPA | 4. Athletic Brewing Company Craft Non-Alcoholic Beer

I didn’t mind most of these, but the No Mo Hazy IPA was hands down our favorite. I actually continued drinking these through spring even when I was back to having drinks on the weekends (a fun hack is to go back and forth between normal beer and NA beer, especially through long day drinking bbq days). I did reach out to one of my best parasocial friends, Dax Shepherd to see if I could get some Ted Segers sent my way but they were out, (Dax and Best Friend Aaron Weakley just created this NA beer that is meant to be awesome).

5. Recess Mood Magnesium Supplement Drink Calming Beverage | 6. Giesen Dealcoholized Sauvignon Blanc | 7. Leitz – Zero Point Five Non-Alcoholic Pinot Noir | 8. Greenbar Distillery Organic NA Un Gin + Tonic | 9. Leitz – Eins Zwei Zero Rose Can

I really loved the Leitz brand and that sparkling rose was delicious, with Recess coming in second. One of my closest friends who is solidly sober was so impressed with the Leitz brand drinks and took a photo of it so he could buy it back in his hometown. And if I’m being totally honest a diet tonic with a splash of grapefruit juice is my favorite NA drink, with a kombucha on ice coming in second. I have tried the NA spirits, and many do taste good but I don’t know – having a faux old-fashioned is only fun if you are at a party, but at home, I found myself not wanting it.

Most nights I opt for a long weighted walk around 6 pm and any desire for a glass of wine is deleted. Then after the kids are down I make a hot tea, sit in the sauna blanket, or chew on 3 MG of an indica gummy and take a bath with my romance novel. It’s legal here by the way and while I absolutely do not like being stoned, I have found that taking a very very small dosage sends me to sleep with zero of the negative side effects (munchies, paranoia, anxiety). Now, if/when I’ve accidentally upped to 5MG (which is 1/2 of a gummy) I will eat the entire carton of ice cream or a bag of Doritos – SO DELICIOUS. I’m only saying this as someone who formerly HATED weed and I still do not want to get truly stoned, like ever again. It’s clear that my body chemistry doesn’t feel compatible with it, but during lockdown, Brian and I experimented very slowly and in tiny doses and found strains that simply helped me relax at night in a healthy, moderate way. To be honest, I think there should be way more laws around it and I wish there weren’t a dispensary on every corner in Oregon. But I feel that nibbling on a gummy is a really nice alternative to a glass of wine and is totally harmless (and is a positive in my life). However, speaking from experience I only imbibe after the kids are down – I tried it before dinner a couple of times and let’s just say putting the kids down felt so long and hard as they “needed my attention” and “didn’t listen” (aka they were totally harshing my buzz!!).

For me, it’s all about replacing the bad habits with the good and in my late 30s (6 years ago when the kids were both toddlers and I felt like I was drowning). I found that consciously opting for a healthy fun thing to do to replace the wine was actually really lovely and totally doable. We all have our tools and mine are podcasts while cooking cozy soups, reading romance novels while taking a bath with or without nibbling a gummy.

Anyone else have any rec or fun new habits you’ve adopted??

*Photos by Kaitlin Green

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Karen
6 months ago

Appreciate how you handled this topic!

Susan
6 months ago

My body has always been super sensitive to all input, then I had genetic testing and found out my liver is slow to metabolize. Makes sense why drinking never was fun and 3 bud lights as a 19 year old left me on the ground puking. All this to say I appreciate the explosion of n/a options. I never cared about fitting in, but sometimes a really well crafted meal calls for a special drink to go with it. Excited to see what n/a wine tastes like.

Stephanie
6 months ago
Reply to  Susan

I suspect I have this, too, Susan! Would you mind sharing which genetic testing you did?

Susan
6 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

It was from a site called gen site and I had it done through my doctor’s office to find out why I was having med issues. The great thing is, once the test is done it gives you a list of red yellow and green meds. Red meaning your genetics don’t tolerate the med well, yellow meaning caution and green meaning go ahead. It’s also how I got the info about being slow to clear substances from my system. Not just alcohol but things like anesthesia or pain meds etc. A normal dose for most people is too much for me. Insurance is better at covering testing now but my doctor had to fight with my insurance to get it covered as a medical necessity. Everyone should have it done if they can.

Stephanie
6 months ago
Reply to  Susan

Thank you so much, Susan! This is great info. I’m going to look into it.

Cici Haus
6 months ago

I love this – thank you for sharing! As someone who just found out I’m pregnant and my friends would notice right away if I wasn’t drinking socially, I’d love having a few of these options on hand! Once they’re in a koozie, no one will notice!

Stephanie
6 months ago
Reply to  Cici Haus

Congrats Cici!

Deb
6 months ago

Without really discussing it, my husband and I have been stuffing each other’s stocking with the special treats that we indulge in during January/February. Candles, tea, local honey, etc. It’s so nice to have a stockpile of your favorite cosy aids on hand! Having a well-planned strategy like yours is absolutely the key to a lovely January. At least in the Northern Hemisphere!

Mandy
6 months ago

I love this post! I am a busy (like all of us) mother, wife and attorney. I generally have a glass of wine at night while cooking dinner and carry it over through dinner and pre-bedtime. Mostly just to cap off the end of the work day. I felt a needed a reset post holidays. So, this year my husband and I decided to do dry January. So far, so good. I love how you approach this subject. Thanks for the recommendations. I have started making TJ or Wholefoods seltzer water with ice and lime or lemon garnish in place of my wine – my favorite is the strawberry and hibiscus from TJ’s. It is easy and really doesn’t make me miss the wine! One quick question – is the NA rose you recommended above overly sweet?

Mindy
6 months ago
Reply to  Mandy

I also love the rosé mentioned and can vouch as a sober person for 3+ years it’s the closest n/a wine I have had to the real thing. It is lovely and not too sweet! Has the nice light bite at the end like a proper glass of wine. High recommend!

Kate
6 months ago

This is so helpful! I’m trying out Dry January this year, and I’ve been thinking about dipping my toes in the NA drinks waters, but I’ve been hesitant because I just don’t know if the flavor is going to be weird or what. I’m super interested in #6 and #7 on your list (the Suav Blanc and Pinot). Since New Year’s I have been settling in with a Yeti full of tea in the evenings, and that’s enough to get the hygge vibes going. Wouldn’t mind a gummy, though, if only it were legal where I live!

6 months ago

Three cheers for AF alternatives, Emily! (And for figuring out other ways that help us feel in the moment and afterwards.) I turn 4 years sober this February, and it’s truly the greatest, most transformative gift I’ve ever offered myself. I quit even though I didn’t “have a problem” and was drinking no more than 1-2 glasses of wine a night; it brought welcome changes to every single area of my life. I hope it’s okay to share here, but I have a substack called Sober Soulful. Most essays are free, and there’s a new series to support folks in the early stage of quitting a thing (substance or behaviour) that just launched: https://danaleighlyons.substack.com/p/in-celebration-of-4-years-sober-birthday Thank you for spreading this message and sharing fun reviews!!

6 months ago

And for figuring out other ways that help us feel GOOD in the moment and afterwards. (Gah, typos!)

🥰 Rusty
6 months ago

Emily, kudos. You were straight-up and clear abput this in a creative and non-judging way.👏
I tend to be an on or off the bus person and don’t do great things in the moderation lane.
I ate waaaay too much processed food and namely sugar, over the last few weeks. Sugar causes inflammation and my body doesn’t like being inflamed. So, I’m back to my almost no sugary processrd crap ‘food’.
I basically don’t drink alcohol, except if soeone is making a toast or a single glass of wine at a function.
I don’t particularly enjoy the taste of alcohol (sans sweet liquors ad I don’t buy them), so this is really easy for me. In addition, having experienced decades of abuse and physical harm fuelled by my ex drinking too much, every night, I’d happily continue this way and am wary of men who drink every day – it’s a way of life for them. A lifestyle habit.
How do you NOT imbibe in something?? Don’t buy it. 👍
Whatever the thing you don’t want to ingest – simply Do. Not. Buy. It.

Kate
6 months ago

Phony Negronis by St. Agrestis are incredible! IMO the only super convincing alc replacement. Must like regular Negronis to appreciate though 🙂

Kelly
6 months ago

I’m doing “damp” January this year after Dry January the last two years, mainly because a neighbor gifted us homemade coquito on New Years Day! Not letting that gift go to waste. But I also really enjoy this Verjus Spritz recipe that Joe Yonan at the Washington Post shared in 2021. It’s bright and zingy and you can make batches for parties: https://www.washingtonpost.com/food/2024/01/03/dry-january-zero-proof-nonalcoholic-drinks/
AND – when I want something that’s easy as a year-round drink swap, I love the Trader Joes Apple Cider Vinegar drink with lemon and ginger… feels like a spicy cider for chili nights, etc.

Molly
6 months ago
Reply to  Kelly

Trader Joes Apple Cider Vinegar drink is also my favorite!

Colleen
6 months ago

Kudos to you, Emily, and everyone else embarking on healthier habits this month! I did dry January last year and my husband and I are both doing it this year. So far, so good. I like Kombucha as a substitute and occasionally the fake beers. Am hoping to extend my dry January throughout the year for dry work nights, drinking only on weekends. So far so good, as my Grandma always used to say. . .

6 months ago

you are missing Lyre’s! https://lyres.com/
their “prosecco” and canned “aperol spritz” and “gin & tonic’s are my favorites. but they also have replacement options for a ton of spirits so that you can make your cocktail with no alcohol or low alcohol (ie, replace campari or aperol with their sub). try some!

Awulknitter
6 months ago
Reply to  heather

Love love love the Lyre’s spritz. Very convincing Aperol spritz substitute.
Martini’s red AF vermouth, Vibrante, also makes a very nice aperitif drink with tonic. My other favourite is Crodino, which is a bitter-sweet Italian soda with an unfortunate name. I find it’s got a very strong taste on its own, so I lengthen it with soda water. It looks very nice in a gin balloon with lots of ice and a slice of red grapefruit.

Meg
6 months ago

This is really helpful! I was just wondering how you are able to go for a long walk at 6pm with kids/dinner needing to happen.

Linda
6 months ago
Reply to  Meg

there is a father 🙂

Meg
6 months ago
Reply to  Linda

yep. Should have been more clear. Just wondering if he makes dinner/kids watch a show/it’s homework time etc. I love hearing other people’s routines.

MBJ
6 months ago

I think the Athletic NA beers are pretty convincing – and this is coming from a real beer lover! I’ve found most NA wines to be super gross, so I’m excited to try the ones on this list. For me, adding some bitters into homemade spritzer type drink is key… I need some of the earthy bitterness to make it satisfying and not just feel like a soda?

Tamara
6 months ago

Hi! Thanks for the suggestions. I really love Ghia. It’s got a very bitter, refreshing zing when mixed with club soda and ginger. I love it! Ghia comes in cans (premixed with optional flavors) Orin a bottle for you to make your own concoctions. I keep it on hand year round.

Hilary
6 months ago

I absolutely love the Curious Elixirs. They are stupidly expensive but so, so yummy. I ordered myself some as a treat this month – the #1 is my favorite.

Angela
6 months ago

For the equivalent of 1/3 to 1/2 a glass of wine, but greater volume (10-16 oz.), I like to mix an ounce of St. George Bruto Americano (24% abv) into sparkling water or sparkling water with a splash of Trader Joe’s Power of 7 “Purple Juice” blend. Then I feel like I am having a drink while I make dinner, but it really isn’t that much alcohol and it lasts. The Bruto Americano is like Campari or Aperol, but naturally dyed with beetle shells (too much info?), and the bitter taste makes a good aperitif.

Margaret
6 months ago

We’re big fans of Recess (the hemp ones are good too!–and has anyone tried the drink powders?), and I’d like to add my recommendation for Lagunitas Hoppy Refreshers, which I’ve seen at TJ’s and Costco. The bitterness of hops (best part of an IPA, IMO) works really well as a sparkling water flavor, and it also makes a great, almost gin-esque mocktail base.
My wife is actually to alcohol–like, got a full on reaction from regular (not hard) kombucha–so while it’s generally fun to see more NA stuff appearing on the market, I do wish brands and restaurants would be better about labeling alcohol free vs. just < 0.5% ABV (which I think is considered legally “non-alcoholic”).

CB
6 months ago

Love this post!
Also, is anyone else having issues with the blog freezing quite a bit recently? I’ve only noticed this for the past few days (usually desktop, safari) but curious if anyone else is having trouble.

Jo
6 months ago

I’m big into NAs — I also like Peroni NA and Heineken 0 because they just taste like a light beer.
I also like pouring kombucha into a glass. My friend once served me chilled chamomile tea in a wine glass and it was delightful! Also a “fun” juice (like guava or something) cut with sparkling water with a lime wedge.

TW
6 months ago

Love so many NA drinks!

  • NA spicy marg (pinch of yum recipe) – cilantro jalapeno simple syrup, small can of tonic, lime juice, shake of tajin
  • Kosterina fruit vinegar (whole foods) over iced sparkling water (its like a simple shrub)
  • Olipop or De La Calle Tepache canned drinks
  • Athletic brewing sour beers
  • Kombucha in a wine glass
Shauna Fessler
6 months ago

Appreciate this post! Things have definitely gotten out of hand for us over the holidays, and while we’re not going full dry January, we’re definitely cutting way, way back. When I was pregnant I practically lived on HopTea and various hop waters, so I will throw that in as my favorite personal recommendation. I’m in Iowa and while weed isn’t technically legal, there is a loophole in the law that allows some THC products to be sold. A local brewery makes THC seltzers that are fun once in a while! I also don’t like being totally high but sometimes enjoy a nice little buzz before bed!

SARAH
6 months ago

so Many books come to the same rec, breathe and sit in some silence

Irene
6 months ago

I tried Wander + Found 0.5% Pinot Noir last month, and thought it tasted great. Sadly, it started tasting like vinegar just two days after I opened it. Highly recommended, if you have someone to share the bottle with!

Nicole
6 months ago

I highly recommend Feals gummies which microdoses THC with CBD. One gummy is 1.5 mg of THC and
for me is the perfect amount. I pop one at the start of bedtime with the kids and it’s enough to take that edge right off.

Bridget B
6 months ago

I no longer drink and I love to listen to audio books while I walk around the neighborhood to wind down. I have never regretted a walk, and I am loving my latest audio books series – Red Rising (future dystopian galatic hunger games -ish)

Thanks for sharing your own journey!

Jen
6 months ago

A suggestion I read years ago when I was doing dry January was subbing GT’s Trilogy Kombucha for red wine. It taste nothing like wine but scratches that itch, I even pour it into my stemless wine glass to drink.

Lisa H
6 months ago

Yes! We’re doing a dry January. Sometimes we try to throw in a dry July too. I was just out of town for a few days, and ordered a mocktail at a nice restaurant. Nice to have that choice!
At home, I definitely have a 6 pm craving for wine or a cocktail. I’ve started to think of it as a habit to break. At that particular time, I enjoy these two things.
I mix a homemade syrup with sparkling water. Key is a lot of ice and a pretty glass. https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ginger-lime-syrup
the other is this soda, which is made near my hometown. Again, ice and a pretty glass.
https://satisoda.com/products/cbd-soda-chill-ginger

Kate
6 months ago

For future reference, here are the three additional ones that Emily mentioned in her Instagram Stories: Hiyo, Sparkle Hops, and Hella Bitters & Soda.

Shannon L.
6 months ago

I’m actually finding that I tend to drink less during the winter than summer. I live in Houston, and it is OPPRESSIVELY hot from June to September. I had reverse SAD this year because of it. Those are the days I definitely wanted a cold glass of wine/rose. Will save some of these recipes for then!

Lori
6 months ago

I’m also doing Dry January & my favorite cocktail substitute I actually found through this blog— De La Calle Tepeche! The Pineapple Spice flavor is my favorite, and they do a grapefruit flavor that’s fantastic over ice as a Moscow Mule substitute. I like that I can just get them at the grocery store.

Kari
6 months ago

The Clever G&Tonic is really good – tastes very like the real thing (and I like the pretty can also – good ambiance)

tina/mormormedstiletter
6 months ago

Nice post and I am totally with you:-)
Where I live, we also have a lot of NA possibilities, which I enjoy instead of constantly overwhelming my body with alcohol – I definitely think, that this is the path forward, if we wat to stay healthy for the while life….

Cheryl
6 months ago

I’m with you on dropping alcohol and feeling immediately better. There’s so much to love about how you feel sober vs the buzz that is short lived with a stiff drink. I haven’t found a wine I like because without the fermentation process it’s all juice in my opinion and I’d rather have an Arnold Palmer or something equally refreshing for way less money. Kombucha also fits the bill. I like Fre Sparkling Brut for a special occasion. The bubbles give it the body a NA needs to replace that alcoholic kick. It’s also much cheaper than most. I tried NA spirits and after a month of making mocktail recipes and trying my hardest, it just wasn’t worth the effort and they’re all expensive. What’s the point, really? Interestingly, I’ve found traveling around Europe that the NA options are incredibly plentiful. In Switzerland I had an amazing brut called Zotz but it’s not available here. In Italy we enjoyed San Bitter, a dupe for an Aperol Spritz, available in any roadside market there and online at Italian marketplaces here. So many NA beers, too. Loved that about Europe. My hands down fave NA beer is Brooklyn Special Effects NA. It’s… Read more »