There are many reasons to cut back on alcohol. Maybe you’re participating in Dry January, are “sober-curious,” or want to make it easier to hit your fitness goals. Or maybe you’re looking for ways to improve your sleep quality or just want to be more intentional with your overall health and wellness. Well, you’re not alone.
The rise of mocktails
According to marketing research by Drizly, Gen Z and millennials are replacing at least some traditional drinks with non-alcoholic versions. They’re consuming less and drinking more mindfully, citing a “healthier lifestyle” as the main reason. As spirits companies take note of these significant trends, better alcohol-free products are hitting the market.
The popularity of non-alcoholic cocktails, wine, and beer has been steadily rising over the last several years and shows no sign of slowing. For good reason: Experts agree that alcohol can have a not-so-great impact on your physical and mental wellness, with an especially negative effect on sleep.
With the advent of higher quality non-alcoholic spirits and creative “mocktail” recipes, it’s easier than ever to cut back on casual drinking without feeling unsatisfied or left out.
Some zero-proof spirits even contain sleep-friendly adaptogens and botanicals, like reishi mushrooms, melatonin, and magnesium. Especially considering how alcohol negatively affects sleep quality and quantity, this is a trend we can certainly get behind.
Keep reading to learn more about mocktails, their benefits, and recipes for some delicious mocktails that won’t ruin your sleep.
What is a mocktail?
A mocktail is simply a cocktail without liquor—but don’t let that fool you into thinking a non-alcoholic mixed drink is boring or unsatisfying. The best mocktail recipes incorporate ingredients like fresh juices, flavorful syrups, sparkling sodas, and often non-alcoholic spirits to create balanced, refreshing drinks without the negative health effects of traditional booze.
How mocktails benefit sleep
Health experts are pretty much in agreement: Alcohol can wreak havoc on your rest, robbing you of deep sleep or making problems like insomnia, sleep apnea, or sleepwalking worse— especially when you imbibe too close to bedtime.
A mocktail can be a great alternative to a traditional nightcap—just keep a few simple tips in mind when crafting a pre-sleep drink. Limit energy-boosting ingredients like sugar, caffeine, and vitamin C. And try to incorporate ingredients with shuteye-supporting compounds such as antioxidants, potassium, and magnesium. Tart cherry juice, chamomile tea, and pure coconut water are great sleep-friendly mocktail ingredients.
The best mocktail recipes
For Dry January and beyond, we’re sharing some of our favorite, easy mocktail recipes you can enjoy without having to sacrifice precious sleep (or experience a hangover!).
A traditional Mexican fermented beverage made from pineapple skins, Tepache is easy to make and super-refreshing with its light tropical flavor and natural bubbles. The fermentation process takes a few days, but its probiotic digestive benefits are worth the wait!
2. Fizzy cherry mocktail
A delicious drink that also helps with sleep? Yes, please! This tart cherry sparkler makes a great pre-sleep refresher.
3. Cucumber-lemon mocktail
Fresh, vegetal, and bright, this crisp cucumber-lemon mocktail makes an excellent post-meal tonic.
4. Cranberry-vanilla shrub/sparkler
This sweet-tart drinking vinegar makes a great base for a multitude of mocktails. We like it simply topped with lemon-lime seltzer for a crisp, winter sparkler.
5. Monday galaxy gin and soda
Made with Monday non-alcoholic gin, this magical, color-changing mocktail is delicious and has wow factor to spare.
6. Apple-chamomile smash
Alcohol-free whiskey, crisp apple, and sleep-friendly chamomile tea meld beautifully in this aromatic mocktail, made just for Saatva.
- 1/2 of a fresh apple, cored, seeded, and sliced
- 1 heaping teaspoon demerara sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 4 ounces Monday alcohol-free whiskey
- 3 ounces strongly brewed chamomile tea, cooled completely
- 1 ounce sparkling apple cider
- Sprinkle of cinnamon to garnish
To a cocktail shaker, add apple slices, lemon juice, and demerara sugar; muddle well. Add alcohol-free whiskey, chamomile tea, and ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain mixture over ice into two lowball glasses. Top off with sparkling cider and a light sprinkle of cinnamon to garnish. Enjoy!
Are mocktails just juice?
The best mocktails use a variety of ingredients to create a balanced drink. Components like infused waters, syrups, fruits, herbs, kombuchas, teas, sodas, bitters, and of course, juice, can all be used when crafting mocktails.
What do you replace alcohol with in mocktails?
There are several high-quality non-alcoholic spirits, wines, and beers available on the market today. A skilled mocktail mixologist can even mimic the taste and mouthfeel of certain liquors with the right ingredients, like botanical-infused waters in place of gin and strongly brewed barley tea to replace whiskey.
What are some easy mocktails to make at home?
Refer to our recipes above! You can also start simple with a splash of your favorite fresh fruit juice over ice, top with sparkling water, and add an edible garnish like mint or cucumber. And if you want to take your mocktails to the next level, check out some mocktail recipe books.
How do beverages like milk, water, and coffee affect your sleep? Check out our guide to the best and worst drinks to sip before bed to find out.
All photos courtesy of Alisha Hidalgo