This summer, skip the booze without missing the fun

Ksenia Prints (Associated Press)

If you thought that going sober meant signing up for a lifetime of tepid ginger ale, think again. In the past few years, non-alcoholic drink options have become more popular than ever. So whether you’ve been dry for a decade or have recently become sober curious, read on for an inside look at why so many Americans are embracing mocktails this summer.

Americans are breaking up with booze

Ever thought about reducing your alcohol consumption? If so, you’ve likely noticed that summer social events and alcohol seem to go together like gin and tonic: a frustrating combination for those looking for alternatives.

It might be a glass of wine with lunch, a couple of beers on the dock or an evening enjoying margaritas on the patio – whatever the occasion, alcohol starts to feel inescapable. Even when what you really want is a non-alcoholic Aperol spritz, it can feel awkward to repeatedly say “no thanks!” in the face of constant pressure to imbibe.

Is this the summer of sobriety?

The good news is that due to increasing awareness of alcohol’s effects on physical and mental health, non-alcoholic summer drinks are becoming more widely available than ever before. A recent Canadian Geographic article cited cost, diet and legal cannabis consumption as additional factors motivating consumers to seek out sober drink options.

According to Forbes, sober bars are popping up across the country, reflecting the demand for social spaces that don’t involve inebriation. And with 67% of Americans taking steps to reduce their alcohol intake, it’s no surprise that beverage manufacturers have responded by introducing a host of new and enticing sober drink options.

The non-alcoholic drinks you need to know

Designated drivers, rejoice: in recent years, a wide range of non-alcoholic options have started to pop up on shelves. When looking to stock your sober bar, don’t ignore these types of non-alcoholic drinks.

Zero-proof spirits: Miss the experience of drinking hard liquor, but not the hangovers that come with it? You can now find zero-proof versions of spirits like gin, tequila and even whiskey, as well as unique options like Seedlip, non-alcoholic spirits distilled from botanicals.

Mocktails: Whether you’re ordering a virgin mojito at a bar or shaking up your very own spicy pineapple margarita, mocktails let you experience all of the summer fun without any of the alcohol.

Non-alcoholic and dealcoholized wines: Skip the grape juice and pick up one of these options for your next dinner party. Alternatives to alcoholic wine can come in white, red, rosé and sparkling styles.

Alcohol-free beer: Today, lagers, stouts and ales can all be found in non-alcoholic form. These low-alcohol and alcohol-free options may also be cheaper than their traditional counterparts.

Your guide to hosting alcohol-free functions this summer

Are you curious about the benefits a sober lifestyle can provide? Or are you looking to create a more inclusive environment for loved ones who are avoiding alcohol? Whatever the reason, here’s how to embrace sobriety during the warmer months.

Stock your non-alcoholic bar

Seek out non-alcoholic liquors such as vodka, tequila, gin or rum. You can even embrace your inner mixologist by investing in a few non-alcoholic bitters.

Embrace alternatives to alcohol when serving food

Ditching wine doesn’t mean that you have to limit yourself in the drinks department. Hosting a barbecue? Pair everything grilled with some fizzy, fruity kombucha for your guests to enjoy. Have guests over for dinner? Try adding some non-alcoholic sangria to your table. Fancy fruit juice, elegant sparkling water and electrolyte-packed coconut water are all great options that don’t involve alcohol.

Shine the spotlight on other treats, not alcohol

When was the last time you made s’mores? Instead of a toast that involves alcohol, consider toasting marshmallows over a fire pit or some candles. Or think about swapping a drinks bar for a nacho bar where your guests can customize their meals.

Challenge your friends to create unique drinks

Think potluck, but for drinks: challenge your friends to come up with inventive mocktails for everyone to enjoy. Don’t forget to assign each drink a creative name, like the unforgettable glamorous pornstar martini – yes, that’s a real drink.

Give dry a try this summer

Summer drinks don’t have to be synonymous with alcohol. Thanks to the growing popularity of mocktails and other non-alcoholic drinks, it’s never been easier to try out sobriety or commit to living life alcohol-free.

If you’re looking for ways to make summer drinks without alcohol, check out local stores for non-alcoholic drinks or consider hosting a casual, alcohol-free function with your friends. Stocking a non-alcoholic bar or placing the focus on other fun activities is a great place to start. You can also seek out sober bars or sober influencers for more inspiration.

After all, a non-alcoholic summer drink can be packed with all of alcohol’s complex flavors but none of its ill effects. Non-alcoholic drinks are often less expensive, lighter on calories, and better for your body and mind. So why not raise a glass to that?

Ksenia Prints is a writer, blogger, photographer and recipe developer from Montreal, Canada. She blogs over at MyMocktailForest.com, writing about food and drink for adventurous home cooks.

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