Although I enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail every once in a while, I’ve been mostly sober/curious for the past several years. I don’t generally react well to drinking, and I realized, five years ago while doing a Whole30, that it is just so much nicer to wake up on a Sunday morning and not feel hung over. Add the issues of money and sugar intake, and it seems like a win-win to me.
Of course, drinking in moderation can be part of a healthy lifestyle, if it’s something you can tolerate. But if you often don’t feel your best from drinking, you might want to play around with drinking less or swapping your alcoholic drinks for something more functional.
Enter the herbal mocktail: a delicious, health-supportive beverage you can sip alongside your friends. And the best part is that you can pick the herbs that’ll deliver the mood boost you’re looking for.
Herbal mocktail tips and tricks
You can customize herbal mocktails in many ways, but here’s how to get started:
Choose your base. Start off with a base such as kombucha (which has a very minimal amount of alcohol, so steer clear if you don’t want that!), herbal tea, seltzer, a healthy soda such as OLIPOP (my personal favorite), or juice — but don’t go overboard with juice because it’s high in sugar.
Go for flavor. Next, add flavors such as fruit, citrus or even veggies such as tomatoes, fennel or cucumbers, if you want to go more savory. Add fresh kitchen herbs such as rosemary, sage, basil or mint, or ground herbs such as cinnamon, cardamom or ginger. (Fresh ginger is great, too!)
Add your herbal medicine. I love to add it to mocktails in tincture form. You can find single-herb extracts from Herb Pharm at your health food store or Whole Foods; also try the mixes available atWooden Spoon Herbs andAnima Mundi. Some herbs are relaxing, and others are energizing. Some are great for stress response, and others are heart openers, aphrodisiacs, gut soothers and more. One important note: Tinctures are most often extracted in alcohol. The amount of alcohol you ingest is minimal, but if you are 100 percent alcohol-free, opt for glycerine-based tinctures and powders, or make teas using the loose herb.
Herbal mocktail recipes
Note: Feel free to use a half instead of a full dropper of any herbs if you are new to them and want to take it slow.
1. The skullcap + chill
Skullcap, a member of the mint family, is primarily known as a nervous system soother — meaning you can sip on this and welcome relaxation. It’s paired with rosemary, which has been indicated medicinally to ease stress and offers other benefits, too (yes, your common kitchen herbs are highly medicinal!).
6 ounces blood orange seltzer (I usedKoios, a nootropic seltzer, but a blood orange La Croix would work perfectly)
Mix all ingredients together, muddling the rosemary if possible.
2. The yin and yang mocktail
This mocktail features the adaptogens ashwagandha and shatavari — the primary male and female herbs in Ayurveda. These herbs aren’t gender-specific, per se; their classification is more indicative of their energetics. Shatavari is known to support reproductive health and vitality in both men and women, and ashwagandha supports overall vitality and stress management. The recipe also includes apples, which are considered cooling in Ayurveda, and ginger and cinnamon, which are warming.
This one’s loaded with herbs that support mood, relaxation and intuition. I used Anima Mundi’s Euphoria Elixir, which features aphrodisiac and happiness-inducing herbs including guarana seeds, Catuaba bark, muira puama, yohimbe bark, hibiscus flower, damiana leaf, schizandra berries, Goji berries, rose petals, and night-blooming jasmine. If you can’t get your hands on it, feel free to swap it out for another happiness tincture at your health food store. The mocktail also includes blue lotus, which is known for enhancing intuition and is a mild sedative (which is why I only used a little!). If you can’t find blue lotus, or if it makes you too sleepy, leave it out. Lastly, cardamom has mood-elevating properties, along with a long list of medicinal benefits.
Steep the blue lotus leaves in the hot water for 5 minutes, making sure it’s covered. As you wait, mix the rest of the ingredients. Pour in the shot of blue lotus after it’s finished steeping, and mix.
This mocktail is full of herbal goodness, including damiana, an herbal aphrodisiac. The recipe also calls for hibiscus ginger kombucha, but if you want to go kombucha-free, just grab a tea bag or some loose hibiscus leaves and steep as a tea along with some fresh ginger to use as the base (or swap it out for another kombucha flavor that sounds good to you). Hibiscus is very high in vitamin C and minerals, and is known to stabilize blood pressure. Ginger is a powerhouse herb: It aids digestion, lowers inflammation, reduces pain, and more. And we can’t forget about cinnamon, which helps to regulate blood sugar and is highly antioxidant. Reminder: Kombucha does have a minimal amount of alcohol as well as caffeine, so be aware if you are sensitive or do not consume one or both.