No alcohol, detox, ‘dry month’, booze-free, sober-curious...what comes to mind when you hear these terms? If you’re like me and enjoy a glass of wine (or two) to wind down while your kids are running around like maniacs, then you may go running for the hills. I took on what’s called ‘Dry January’ for the first time last year as a way to detox after the madness of the holidays, and I struggled with finding fun options to drink at happy hour or on the weekends at home with my husband. I had to discover fun mocktails, different flavored fizzy drinks, and lovely bedtime teas. I drink so much dang water that it’s nice to have something a little different in the evenings that isn’t soda (ditch the soda; it’s no good for you. That’s an entirely different story, though)
As I'm typing this blog post, we are heading into Labor Day weekend. It’s the annual “end of summer” weekend. It’s pool time, lake time, beach time, cookout time, and usually...cocktail time. Since I’m on a dry two weeks with my clients in the 30-day kickstart program, I'm abstaining as well. One of my clients mentioned needing a good mocktail recipe for this weekend. I immediately jumped at the chance to start scouring Pinterest for the prettiest, most garnished, booze-free cocktails to try!
I wanted to find some yummy, alcohol-free recipes that were festive, satisfying, but didn’t totally bomb my nutrition habits I’ve built up. If I’m going to have something sugary and sweet, well, I’d rather it be ice cream than drink a freaking mocktail. You feel me? My friend, Jenny, said she was feeling something with strawberry and basil notes. My taste buds immediately lit up with excitement. After 15 seconds on Pinterest, I discovered this Strawberry Basil Smash mocktail from Cook at home Mom. What more do you need? Ripe, beautiful strawberries. Vibrant and fresh basil. Sparkling water and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. HELLO! This is the perfect drink! Put her in a mason jar with a sustainable aluminum straw and BOOM! Summery perfection in a glass. No alcohol and no sugar! The perfect treat to a summer evening--or any evening for that matter. Thanks, Jenny, for the inspiration, my dear!
Next up on my search for the perfect mocktail, I was thinking about presentation. I’m a true southern gal. I love a good presentation. I’ll serve dinner on a serving platter even if it’s not Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter! I LIVE for the serving bowl and platter section of Homegoods. I could walk around for hours there and never tire of the servingware. I digress...back to mocktails. One of my favorite presentations is the Moscow Mule in the signature copper mug. It’s the most recognizable drink because of the cool copper mug. Allow me to introduce the Mimic Mule Mocktail from Marnie Rae. This mocktail is super simple, but it does not disappoint. This one highlights only four ingredients, and I think you could even get down to 3 (simple syrup is not necessary in this one if you ask me). My favorite ginger beer for this recipe is Fever-Tree Ginger Beer. You can find it at most grocery stores where I live, and there is something about this ginger beer that is superior to others. Before you ask me, NO IT’S NOT THE SAME AS GINGER ALE. It’s just not. Ginger beer has more of that spicy, gingery flavor vs. a traditional ginger ale. This mimic mule is simply a bottle of Fever-Tree ginger beer, a few mint leaves, and fresh lime. Marnie Rae’s recipe calls for a splash of simple syrup, but I think this is sweet enough on its own without the added sugar and calories in the simple syrup. Serve this in a traditional copper mug like this one, and garnish of fresh lime and fresh mint. Voila! You’re ready for happy hour, and you won’t even miss the vodka or the possible hangover the next day.
Some like it hot. I mean spicy hot. The next mocktail on deck is just for you hotties. Truthfully, I’ve never been a huge fan of the spicy jalapeño margs, but I know MANY who adore this feisty version of a margarita. This spicy jalapeño margarita mocktail from The Wooden Skillet includes a few simple ingredients. The main stars are orange juice, lime juice, and fresh sliced jalapeños to bring that heat. Add some salt to the rim to make it feel ‘official.’ You can remove the seeds from the jalapeño to reduce the spiciness a little, but buyer beware - this one is hot! I just love the idea of this sunny mocktail with a spicy finish being sipped out on the patio watching the sunset. How amazing does that sound?
Last up in our myriad of mocktails is quite possibly one of my favorites. Being a true southern belle, I’ve basically grown up on sweet tea. Yes, sweet tea. The sweeter, the better, in my opinion. What makes sweet tea better? Lemonade! Enter the famous Arnold Palmer drink, which is simply half sweet tea and half lemonade. How easy is that? This drink is named after the famous golfer, Arnold Palmer. Arnold Palmer started asking for this most refreshing beverage in 1960 when he was out on the golf course competing in the US Open. He ordered a half sweet tea and half lemonade, and that’s how the Arnold Palmer bev was born. This drink just screams summertime porch sipping to me. This recipe from Delightful E Made for a classic Arnold Palmer shows you how to make both the sweet tea and the lemonade from scratch. Feel free to make it yourself or buy the premade stuff. Note, you can control how much sugar is in your tea and lemonade by making it yourself. When you purchase store bought tea or lemonade, you’re at the mercy of the brand you purchase from how much sugar you’re taking in. Make this Arnold Palmer by the glass or by the pitcher for summertime parties! Serve this up in a tall glass or mason jar and garnish with some fresh lemon slices or even fresh mint sprigs! Now I’m craving one right now!
Whether you opt for the classic Arnold Palmer, the spicy jalapeño margarita mocktail, the mimic mule, or the fresh strawberry basil smash, one thing is for sure. You will not miss the alcohol, and you’ll absolutely feel 100% the next morning when you hit the ground running! Need a few reasons to try cutting out alcohol for a while? Keep reading.
Did you know that alcohol actually affects your sleep in many ways? Yes, we all know that alcohol makes you drowsy, but it actually has several adverse affects on our sleep quality. This article from Sleep Foundation outlines a few ways that alcohol negatively affects your sleep quality. The points that stand out to me (and that I’ve experienced personally) are 1. Alcohol interrupts your natural circadian rhythms. Alcohol has a sedative property, so while it helps you fall asleep quickly, you wake in the middle of the night feeling off and not well rested once the booze has worn off. 2. Alcohol blocks your REM sleep. REM sleep is the gold standard of sleep. This is the most restorative type of sleep. Since alcohol blocks this REM sleep cycle, you wake up feeling more groggy and less rested. 3. Alcohol leads to more trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Anyone who’s been pregnant before understands the misery of waking up multiple times in the middle of the night to pee since your baby is tap dancing on your bladder all night long. It’s the worst! Alcohol works the same way. Since alcohol is a diuretic, this could lead to more frequent bathroom trips while you should be getting your beauty sleep. All in all, if you want quality sleep, alcohol is not your friend.
Now, I’m not saying I don’t enjoy a glass of wine or an Oktoberfest beer here and there, but when I want to feel my best, I need to cut out the booze. If I’ve got a 6:00am workout session or I want to wake up with as much energy as my 3 year old, I’m going to opt for the mocktail instead of the cocktail. Let me know which one of these festive mocktails you try first. Until then...cheers!