Low-in-alcohol and no-alcohol drink options are in high demand. Here’s a guide to the mocktail trend that’s changing the definition of happy hour, including why now and how to try it at home.

By Karla Walsh
June 17, 2019
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Mocktails, also known as no ABV (alcohol by volume) or virgin drinks, are alcohol-free options that are now moving far beyond kid-favorites like Shirley Temples, flavored sodas, and lemonade. Whether to make happy hours during pregnancy more enjoyable or to allow for more options for those who choose to abstain, these spirit-free sips are having a moment.

Why Are Mocktails Trending Now?

It’s no longer just about Dry January. As a growing number of people are tuning in to their physical and mental health (and aiming to cut back on calories or the potential headaches the next morning), they’re also trying to down fewer boozy beverages.

Get the Honey Ginger Limeade Recipe

More than one in four Americans are seeking ways to trim down on alcohol consumption, according to Nielsen’s State of the Nation report. And sales trends confirm this shift as more than a fleeting fad: A new report from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis group found that worldwide alcohol consumption declined 1.6 percent during 2018.

Related: Our Favorite Veggie Mocktails

Kate Bee, the creator of online abstinence course The Sober School, started her mission of preaching the power of sobriety after she took her last drink in April 2013. “I'd had an unhappy relationship with alcohol for a long time,” Kate tells us. “I was repeatedly drinking more than I wanted to and it was making me miserable. I'd tried cutting back, only drinking on certain days and taking months off, but nothing ever worked for long.” More than six years since she last imbibed in alcohol, Kate says she’s spreading the word to other women because “I wish someone had told me how good—and normal!—life without alcohol could be. Alcohol is a drug, just like any other, and it’s not essential to wholesome, joyous living.”

At the same time, the sober curious movement is booming. Sober curious individuals focus on abstaining from alcohol most or all of the time, but don’t have a 100 percent strict stance on drinking. For example, someone who is sober curious will likely still imbibe with pals over happy hour, and once in a rare occasion, she may opt for a glass of rosé or ask to add a shot of spirits to her drink.

Courtesy of Amazon

3 Products to Get Sober Curious at Home

If you’re curious about being sober curious—or want to try a no ABV drink instead of that go-to glass of wine a few nights a week—more products than ever are available to boost your beverage beyond plain sparkling water territory.

Like gin? Try Seedlip Garden 108

Distilled like gin (without the juniper) and infused with botanicals, this spirit-free mixed drink ingredient is a star at many craft cocktail bars. At home, try the SEEDLIP Garden 108 ($37.50, Amazon) by adding a couple ounces to a highball glass with ice and top with ginger ale, homemade ginger soda, or tonic.

Buy It: Seedlip and GINSIN Non-Alcoholic Spirits Sampler, $179.99 for six 700-milliliter bottles, Amazon

Enjoy Aperol spritzes? Try Curious Elixir No. 4

This “booze-free cocktail” company offers hand-crafted, no-added-sugar options to cure your cravings for drinks with layers of complex flavors—just without the alcohol. Their recipes are made with organic juices, spices, roots, and herbs. Their Elixir No. 4 doesn't require any shaking or stirring. It comes in what looks like a wine bottle ready to pour. If you like, garnish with an orange slice or wedge to make it feel more like a cocktail.

Buy It: Curious Elixir No.4, $22 for 750 milliliters (five drinks), Curious Elixirs

Prefer wine? Try Ariel Cabernet and Chardonnay

Touted as “the world’s best dealcoholized wines,” ARIEL isn’t just grape juice. The creators harvest grapes from vines that normally go into regular wine, then age and ferment them in the same way. During cold-filtration, all of the alcohol is removed. The results: A similarly complex drink with fewer calories (about 30 vs. 100 per four-ounce glass) and zero ABV.

Buy It: Ariel Non-Alcoholic Wine, $32 for two 750-milliliter bottles, Amazon

Bars and cocktail lounges all over are getting in on the no-alcohol trend and stocking their bars with these craft mixers (or their own) that are free of alcohol. That means even if you're abstaining you can have a handcrafted alcohol-free cocktail that doesn't taste like a kiddie drink. Check to see what's at your favorite establishment next time you go out for drinks (even if it's just zero-alcohol beer), or whip up some mocktail recipes at home to see if the trend is a fit for you, too.

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