Ditching alcohol has never been so delicious thanks to these healthful registered dietitian–approved mocktail ideas. Quitting alcohol may seem like a major challenge, but considering the number of perks associated with limiting your alcohol intake, it might be worth reconsidering. There are many ways to do so, whether for Dry January or any other month, day, or week of the year when your body needs a break from booze. One way to do it: Trade your typical alcoholic beverage for one without booze, whether it’s a mocktail or soda water. What’s making it easier than ever to cut back on alcohol is the emerging mocktail trend. More bartenders are having fun creating innovative alcohol-free drinks, says Karen Ansel, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in Long Island, New York, and experts in the health sector, including registered dietitians, have begun mixing up delicious takes on mocktails that aren’t full of sugar and artificial ingredient–packed syrups. “Mocktails are definitely a wellness trend,” says Christine Palumbo, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in Naperville, Illinois. “So many of us are trying to minimize the toxins in our body, whether that’s with the makeup we put on, the cleaners we use around the house, or the food we eat — so avoiding alcohol is another piece of this low-toxin environment we’re creating,” Palumbo adds.
Sparkling Blood Orange Mocktail
Eating in-season fruits and veggies is a health food trend, so why not drink what’s in season, too? You can, thanks to this delicious, seasonal mocktail. “Made with freshly squeezed blood orange juice, this mocktail uses of one of the most beautiful citrus fruits available in winter,” says Marisa Moore, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in Atlanta. And not only does the citrusy drink taste good (it’s also made with vanilla, lime sparkling water, and a little bit of honey), it’s good for you, too. “Blood oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is essential for healthy cells, healing, and immune function,” adds Moore. So you’ve got a great excuse to whip this drink up if you notice a cold coming on.
You can feel like you’re on a getaway with a sip of this sangria mocktail — whether you’re enjoying it in the heat of summer or the dead of winter. The secret ingredient that gives the drink its bold flavor and bright red color? It’s the hibiscus tea. Meanwhile, the fruit gives the mocktail that hit of sweetness that you’d expect from a sangria — without any added sugar. Just be sure to eat the apples and oranges after, for some extra fiber and vitamin C. Want to mix things up? “For a summer variation try hibiscus, berry, or peach tea and fruits like berries, plums, and peaches,” suggests Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in Chicago. And for a warm, winter variation, use orange spice or cran-apple tea, plus fruits like clementines, cranberries, and pomegranate, Blatner advises.
Moscow Mules are refreshing and easy to whip up, and this mocktail version delivers all the same great flavors, without the day-after hangover. “What makes this mocktail is the ginger kombucha,” says Kaleigh McMordie, RDN, a dietitian based in Lubbock, Texas, and founder of LivelyTable.com. “Not only is kombucha full of gut-healthy probiotics, but it’s usually lower in sugar than most mixers, though you still get the bubbles and flavor!” One of those typical Moscow Mule mixers is ginger beer, an ingredient in traditional recipes that’s a “high in sugar” offender, according to an article published in March 2016 by the BBC. You’ll get to sidestep it in this recipe, and likely won’t even notice the swap. Do know that kombucha does include trace amounts of alcohol due to the fermentation process, but it is not regulated as an alcoholic beverage by the government as long as it contains less than 0.5 percent alcohol.
Strawberry Sparkling Mocktail
Too-sweet mocktails can give you a sugar rush — but this one offers the perfect amount sweetness thanks to the strawberries, and the tartness of the lemon juice gives it a sweet-meets-tangy taste. Plus, you also get some nice nutritional perks. “Both strawberries and lemons are great sources of vitamin C, which is a nutrient our bodies don’t produce, meaning we need to get it from the food we eat,” says Tara Rochford, RDN, a dietitian at Butler University in Indianapolis and founder of Tara Rochford Nutrition. And there’s more. “Vitamin C helps to keep our skin healthy and glowing, aids in wound healing, and helps keep our immune system strong,” she adds.
Pomegranate Ginger Sparkler
Opt for this drink if you want to get your antioxidant fix. “The pomegranate juice packs in potent anti-inflammatory phytochemicals called polyphenols that protect bodily cells against damage,” says Lindsey Pine, RDN, a dietitian at University of Southern California Hospitality in Los Angeles, and founder of Tasty Balance Nutrition. “Those polyphenols may have a positive effect on memory and cognition as well as post-exercise muscle recovery,” she adds. Plus, she says, you’ll get a dash of probiotics from the ginger kombucha, which is useful for gut health. The best part: The garnish. You can top yours with pomegranate arils, blueberries, or both for an extra nutritious punch.
Ruby Sparkler Mocktail
What makes this mocktail extra-special is the homemade rhubarb-plum syrup, which combines diced rhubarb, a plum, and agave nectar or honey. And an added perk? You can save the extra syrup you don’t use in the recipe for up to two weeks in the fridge, and then use it to elevate other dishes. (Perhaps even drizzle it atop a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream?) To make this drink a mocktail versus a cocktail, swap out the St. Germain liqueur and prosecco for 4oz of chilled sparkling water, advises Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in New York City. Then just be sure, she says, to toast to a lovely occasion!
Grapefruit Mint Kombucha Mocktail
Thirst-quenching: Check. Vitamin C-packed: Check. Gut-friendly: Check. “Made with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and probiotic-rich kombucha, this mocktail is low in calories and sugar, good for your gut, and filled with immune-boosting ingredients,” says Sarah Gold Anzlovar, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in Boston. “It’s light and refreshing, and feels like a special drink — you won’t even miss the booze!” she adds. This drink makes an excellent summer treat, but don’t let that limit you — you can also enjoy it during cold and flu season, to keep your immune system going strong and make your winter days seem not so dark and dreary.