Teetotaling has been earning sex appeal lately, and we couldn’t be happier about it. Avoiding alcohol provides an extraordinary number of benefits to your health and well-being (as well as your bank account). To many former drinkers’ surprise, fun and alcohol aren’t actually linked—fun things are fun, and just because you are more used to experiencing them with a drink doesn’t mean the drink was essential to the fun. Truly: If alcohol and fun did depend on each other, kids would never have fun, and those little suckers look like they have more fun than any of us.
Still, danged if a fancy cocktail doesn’t make a moment feel special. But does that come from the alcohol or the fact that someone put a lot of thought into creating a drink that looks and tastes delicious? You decide. Here are some excellent options for experimenting with a booze-free drink.
Ask your bartender (confidently and unabashedly).
Social pressure is a heck of a thing to overcome, so it’s nice that there’s such a movement these days to forego the gin and push past ubiquitous cultural messages about drinking as essential to adulthood.
Most bar menus now have a list of specialty mocktails that makes ordering a non-drink drink appealing. You won’t be feeling self-conscious over a Shirley Temple, no sirree! Mocktails get all the pomp, circumstance, and herbaceous ornament that the alcohol-inclusive versions get. And fancy glassware, which may be the part that most sells it, because didn’t you always feel ever-so-adult with a martini glass in hand? (And ever-so-regret-filled on the morning after a night when you kept ‘em coming?)
Make them at home.
Humans love ritual, no question. The comfort of repetition, the feeling of celebration around a tradition—these things matter to well-being. They make life easier and happier to manage. If the ritual of mixing a cocktail at the end of the day signals to your brain that it’s time to unwind, the alcohol is merely an element and not the totality of the joy it gives you. Try the ritual without the booze and see how it feels. There are a whole lot of ways to make it happen.
- The nonalcoholic drinks market has exploded in response to alcohol sales diminishing by generation. You can now find a wealth of nonalcoholic beers, wines, and even spirits to satisfy your yen for the experience without experiencing the downsides of alcohol.
- Whether you want to bust out the blender or not, you can find an astonishing number of interesting mocktails from just a quick search. Stick with the classics, get as close as you can to the original, indulge in a fruity version, and so on and so on. If you don’t find one you love, you haven’t tried hard enough.
- Maybe you want to find a new ritual altogether. Tea is a great way to experience the variety and complexity of alcohol, inspires just as much obsession, and won’t make you talk too loudly while saying the same thing over and over. Bonus: Tea comes with a lot of great health benefits.
- You can still bring people together and share a unique experience by hosting a mocktail party. Most of the same rules apply: You need a fun guest list and some snacks, a few batches of (or at least the ingredients for) mocktails of different kinds, and a festive playlist. Maybe a theme if you’re into that.
What nondrinkers know.
For many of us, drinking has been inextricably linked with adulthood for as long as we can remember. Change is always scary, yes, and moving away from something that has seemed essential is even scarier. Maybe you’ve always thought not drinking would be dull or feel like deprivation. Maybe you’ve never imagined you could have a good time without alcohol. You can’t know until you give it a go, of course.
Evidence continues to add up on the side of alcohol being unhealthy even in moderation. Which is a big, big reason to opt for mocktails instead. Talk to a nondrinker in your life if you’re curious about what lies on the other side. Chances are good they’ll tell you that better sleep, healthier skin, less depression, and a whole host of other advantages come from filling that martini glass with raspberry lemonade instead of vodka.