Seasonal Non-Alcoholic Beverages for the Holidays

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Are you in recovery and seeking festive non-alcoholic beverages to serve at your holiday gathering? A host looking to be inclusive in the drinks you offer your guests? Someone trying to cut back and searching for alcohol-free options that will help you and others pace yourself between alcoholic drinks? Whatever your reason for seeking non-alcoholic holiday beverages, I have suggestions!

Easy ingredient mocktails

It can be a real bummer when a party is full of delightfully festive cocktails, but the only non-alcoholic option is a can of soda. Mocktails are a perfect way to make everyone feel included and special. The options for mocktails are endless, but here are a few easy mocktail recipes that you could enjoy yourself and make available to your guests.

  • Cranberry Ginger Ale + Orange Bitters + Orange: Cranberry Ginger Ale is SUCH an easy and delicious beverage to get for the holidays, one of my personal favorites. Adding bitters and any citrus adds a little something special. My preference is orange bitters & orange, but I think you could get the same desired result with any bitters & citrus.
  • Ginger Ale + Orange Bitters + Orange wedge: Y’all, I mixed this up for the first time for this blog and it has become one of my favorites! Plain ginger ale is fine, but it’s not really a mocktail. Just adding the orange bitters & orange made this so, so good.
  • Seltzer + Bitters + Citrus wedge: This is not sweet, so it’s a perfect choice for someone who doesn’t want a sweet drink, but still wants more than plain seltzer. It’s also a little more unique than just seltzer and lime.
  • Flavored Sparkling Water + Grenadine + Bitters + Citrus: This summer I started experimenting with flavored sparkling water + grenadine combos, and you can experiment with combos, too. I think the bitters make it a little bit more spicy, which is really nice. This is pretty sweet!
  • Ginger Beer + Seltzer + Bitters + Citrus: I love the bite of ginger beer, and seltzer makes it a little more drinkable for me. If you love the sting of ginger beer, feel free to omit the seltzer, lol. The ginger tastes great with the spiciness of bitters and the fresh zing of citrus. This is less sweet, but as someone who needs at least a little bit of sweetness, it was sweet enough for me.

General notes on non-alcoholic beverages

  • Order online: Don’t forget that you can order things online. It might sound silly to suggest that in our era, but it’s worth mentioning. You’d be surprised how many non-alcoholic options you can find at stores like Total Wine, which have everything from non-alcoholic beer (my favorites are Athletic & Brooklyn Special Effects), to great mixers, to zero-proof spirits. Ordering online takes more planning, but if you live in a place without lots of grocery options, it’s worth ordering online to protect your sobriety, to stay mindful of your drinking, or to be a good host.
  • TÖST Beverages: Speaking of ordering online, I LOVE TÖST Beverages and you can order straight from their website. TÖST is an incredibly festive, fun, and delicious way to honor your guests with amazing NA options.  You can check out my podcast with Ellie Singer, Mocktail Hour, where we taste test the TÖST ROSÉ!
  • Non-alcoholic bitters: Non-alcoholic bitters exist! They’re harder to find than regular bitters, but they are an option. I appreciate A Bar Above’s blog Bitters & Alcohol: All About ABV And Non-Alcoholic Bitters, which is an excellent resource for finding the right non-alcoholic bitters for your palate. The options they list would be great to try if want the complexity bitters bring to a drink without any of the alcohol.
  • Traditional bitters: Traditionally, bitters usually do contain alcohol. Because you typically only use a dash, most people don’t feel affected by them, and some folks in recovery feel okay using them. I’ve heard it compared to using vanilla extract (also alcohol-based) in your food.  That said, if the idea of putting anything alcoholic into your drink feels scary or if you think having the bottle of bitters in your home would trigger you, don’t get any. Mocktails are supposed to be fun, not stressful, and they certainly aren’t supposed to challenge your recovery. If you can’t find non-alcoholic bitters and don’t feel comfortable using traditional bitters, you could make all the recipes above without any bitters.
  • Kombucha/bitters host tip: If you are a host mixing up a zero-proof mocktail recipe that includes kombucha or traditional bitters, make sure you check in with your guest. Some folks in recovery really do not feel comfortable consuming any alcohol, and it’s important that you respect and support that choice.

Classic beverages:

Some drinks are classics for a reason. These don’t have to include alcohol to taste great and feel festive.

  • Mulled apple cider: Combine apple cider, sliced oranges, and whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, and star anise) in a pot on the stove and simmer. It’s not only delicious, but it makes your whole house smell amazing.
  • Cocoa: Cocoa feels indulgent and nostalgic! Offer tiny marshmallows, whipped cream, and candy canes so your guests can garnish their mug to their own taste.
  • Non-alcoholic egg nog: Whether you make it at home or buy it by the carton, egg nog is super seasonal. Just watch out when you’re shopping—some stores also carry egg nog containing alcohol.

Trader Joe’s beverage shopping

You don’t have to shop at Trader Joe’s, and I know not everyone has one in their neighborhood. But I do think their non-alcoholic options are amazing for ensuring you have festive drink options when you’re short on prep time. (This post isn’t sponsored by TJs; I just like them!) If you don’t have Trader Joe’s near you, look for similar kinds of drinks in your local grocery store.

  • Sparkling Cranberry Ginger: This is tangy and gingery, a really lovely mix. It’s fairly sweet, but not over the top. I love it! It comes in cans.
  • Sparkling Pomegranate Punch: This is amazing. It has the fruit flavor but it isn’t overpowering in its sweetness. It’s really delicious. It comes in cans.
  • Sparkling Honeycrisp Apple Juice: This is a very tart sparkling apple juice. I love the amount of sweetness, which is similar to the level that would be natural to an apple. Delicious! It comes in cans.
  • Winter Wassail Punch: This tastes like WINTER—apple, black currant, lemon, holiday spices, orange peel. HOO BOY, this is good! It comes in a plastic bottle.
  • Sugar Plum Sparkling Beverage: I expected this to be SUPER sweet, like candy, but it tastes like a mix of white grape and plum. So it is definitely sweet, but more of a grape juice level of sweetness. So good!
  • Sparkling Cranberry Flavored Juice Blend: If you love cranberry juice cocktail (like from OceanSpray) but always wanted it to SPARKLE, this is your drink. Honestly, I think it’s good. It comes in a glass bottle.

I hope these resources and suggestions support you as you protect your recovery during the holidays, stay mindful of your drinking, or just throw fabulous parties that honor everyone who enters your space.  No matter what: You can do this. Be kind to yourself if you can.  And let yourself have fun during the holidays!

Want to learn more?

Learn more about alcohol and alchol use disorder, read stories of recovery, and find helpful tools on our blog.

The Rev. Erin Jean Warde is an Episcopal priest, spiritual director, recovery coach, and writer. She is the author of Sober Spirituality: The Joy of a Mindful Relationship with Alcohol. She offers a course, Discerning Sobriety, which helps participants bring spiritual practices and mindfulness into their relationship with alcohol. You can explore her offerings around coaching, spiritual direction, and more at www.erinjeanwarde.com. You can explore her Substack, Gather the Inklings, which includes weekly posts and a community. In her free time, you can find her watching comedy, thrift or vintage shopping, making new friends, and hanging out with her cats.

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