6 Holiday Mocktails for a Festive Celebration
While drinking alcohol tends to be a big part of holiday parties and social gatherings, it’s not very festive to wake up with a hangover or suffer the consequences of too much booze during the “most wonderful time of the year.”
According to Christine Byrne, a registered dietitian in Raleigh, North Carolina, drinking in moderation isn’t a big problem; it’s when you overdo it that you run into trouble. Drinking alcohol while eating is okay in small amounts, she says. “Your body does know how to deal with that.” However, she adds, “Too much alcohol can mess with digestion, make you stopped up or bloated, or any number of things.”
If you do choose to imbibe, Samantha Cassetty, a New York City–based registered dietitian, recommends just one drink per day or less for women and two or less for men in order to avoid alcohol-related health problems. That advice is in keeping with the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025," from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But moderating your alcohol intake doesn’t mean you have to miss out on socializing or be stuck sipping water all night.
Instead, put down your usual cocktail or glass of wine and turn to one or more of these holiday mocktail recipes from top nutritionists and bartenders, which deliver the same festive feel and amazing flavors of their boozy brethren—without the risk of a hangover.
1. The Holiday Sip
The vegan egg substitute aquafaba (starchy liquid that beans, especially chickpeas, have been cooked or stored in) adds froth and body to Atlanta-based cocktail consultant Keyatta Mincey Parker’s nonalcoholic twist on the classic whiskey sour. Keyatta loves the “celebratory flavors of orange and cranberry” in this holiday mocktail.
2 ounces Kentucky 74 Spiritless
3/4 ounce cranberry-orange cocktail syrup
3/4 ounce aquafaba
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Instructions: Combine all ingredients into a shaker tin with fresh ice, shake hard, and strain into your favorite coupe glass. Garnish with an orange slice and enjoy.
2. Mocktail Sangria
Amy Gorin, a registered dietitian and owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, Connecticut, created this seasonal sangria made with antioxidant-rich green tea and 100% fruit juice rather than wine. “It also contains minimal added sugar, less than 1/2 teaspoon per serving,” she says.
6 green tea bags
4 cups water
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups chilled white grape juice
2 cups chilled passion fruit juice
2 oranges, segmented (reserve some for garnish)
6 key limes, halved
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 cup diced pineapple
Instructions: Brew the tea bags in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove the tea bags and stir in the honey.
In a pitcher, combine the brewed tea with the remaining ingredients, reserving a few orange segments for garnishes. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or more. Pour into glasses, garnish, and enjoy!
3. Mulled Ginger-Apple Cider
Tory Pratt, founder of Pratt Standard Cocktail Co., in Washington, D.C., says the spicy cinnamon makes this holiday mocktail a celebratory alternative to the traditional hot toddy. Made of pure ginger juice, the brand’s ginger syrup adds a little kick.
1/2 ounce Pratt Standard ginger syrup
1 ounce Pratt Standard tonic syrup
4 ounces apple cider
Cinnamon stick, for garnish (optional)
Apple slice, for garnish (optional)
Instructions: Microwave all ingredients together until hot. Serve immediately, garnished with a cinnamon stick and apple slice if desired.
4. Spiced Cranberry Soda Spritzer
In addition to vitamin C–packed cranberry juice, this refreshing spritzer contains whole cranberries because “the skins contain higher amounts of antioxidants than the flesh,” says creator Cara Harbstreet, a registered dietitian with Street Smart Nutrition in Kansas City, Missouri.
1 ounce 100% cranberry juice
2 ounces spiced cranberry simple syrup*
Splash of club soda/tonic water
Cinnamon stick, for garnish
Orange wedges, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish
Cranberries, for garnish
Instructions: Mix the cranberry juice and spiced cranberry simple syrup. Then, pour into a glass over crushed ice, top with a splash of club soda or tonic water, and add garnishes.
*Spiced Cranberry Simple Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 cups cranberries fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon mulling spice
2 sticks cinnamon
3 slices orange
Instructions: Add all ingredients to a saucepan and place on the stove over medium-high heat. Bring to a low simmer and stir occasionally to help the sugar fully dissolve. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cranberries burst open and the liquid becomes a bright red color.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Prepare a Mason jar with a sealing lid or other leakproof storage container. Use a ladle and a fine mesh strainer to strain the simple syrup liquid into the jar. Seal and refrigerate until ready to use.
5. You Yuzu Call Me on My Cell Phone
Potassium-rich pomegranate juice combined with nonalcoholic orange triple sec adds depth of flavor, color, and brightness to this crimson-hued drink. Creator Alexa Delgado, beverage manager at Lake Nona Wave Hotel, in Orlando, Florida, calls her holiday mocktail “a perfect, refreshing nonalcoholic martini.”
1 ounce pomegranate juice
1 ounce Lyre’s Orange Sec
1/4 ounce yuzu concentrate
3/4 ounce simple syrup
Expressed orange peel
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin. Fill 3/4 of the way full with ice and shake for approximately 10 seconds. Double-strain into a coupe or martini glass using a Hawthorne or mesh strainer. Place orange peel over the rim of the glass.
6. Virgin Piña Colada
According to Cassetty, “an ordinary piña colada can have more than 500 calories and nearly three days' worth of added sugar,” but this nonalcoholic take is lower in calories.
“While not traditionally ‘festive,’ who doesn’t love an opportunity to imagine they’re on the beach,” says Pratt of her booze-free makeover of the tropical classic. Perfect if you're planning a staycation over the holidays.
3 ounces coconut cream
3 ounces fresh pineapple juice
Instructions: Add all ingredients to a blender. Add twice as much ice as the combined ingredients. Blend starting on low and going slowly faster as the mixture develops a vortex in the middle. Blend just until the texture is uniform.
Pour into a glass. Store extra immediately in the refrigerator and drink within an hour.
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