What to Drink When You’re Not Drinking

I’m not a Dry January person, but I imagine there are some of you out there doing it. Or maybe you are pregnant, on antibiotics, or at work and need something to both hydrate and excite you. Or you could have a friend who wants something delicious and festive but doesn’t drink or has to drive. Whatever the reason, sometimes a glass of something that doesn’t get you tipsy is in order. And there are SO many lovely liquids to enjoy. My beverage enthusiasm has long extended to nearly all liquid universes: from childhood Fruitopia glory (the 90s were literally the best time to be alive) to the Godiva chocolate liqueur my bestie and I nabbed from her mom’s fridge (quite the discovery) to of course, coffee…Liquids. Are. Important. So is how they taste. And yet I drink my Los Angeles tap water unfiltered. Go fig. I am limiting this to non-blender drinks with no solids in them. Fun with boba, floats, smoothies and shakes would be a whole other thing. Explore on your own and report back! I AM including some alcohol subs, as well as a smattering of other random fun things to imbibe. NOT DEALCOHOLIZED FUN: PROXIES WINE The Proxies I tasted are NOT dealcoholized wines but come in bespoke wax-topped wine bottles and contain beverages that build flavor with all sorts of ingredients. There are some wine grape juices in them, but they have been infused with fruits, herbs, spices, teas, and more. They aren’t meant to taste like any particular wine. Truly, every single one I had was SO complex, more like spiced and infused juices. I was particularly fond of the Proxies Velvet, which had a tart and spicy nose. Red cherry, cardamom, and mocha notes were all on the palate. Then there was Proxies Sauvage, a white not-wine, that is absolutely delightful, very crisp, and almost lemony, but just a pinch woodsy, with a lovely bittersweet finish that brings to mind a slightly more subdued honeyed cough drop, the type you’d pretend to have a cough to get to suck on, crossed with a mild green apple Jolly Rancher. I tasted some prototypes of Proxies to come that were fun too, so if you can’t find these, keep an eye out for whatever they are dropping next. DEALCHOHOLIZED FUN: THOMSON AND SCOTT NOUGHTY DEALCOHOLIZED WINES Now, unlike Proxies, these ARE dealcoholized wines meant to taste like wine. They are also made with organic grapes; they are vegan and halal, and the company is a B Corp. Good stuff. I was especially fond of the Thomson and Scott Noughty Sparkling Chardonnay . I was pleasantly surprised by this! It shows a little bread dough and fresh and browned green apples, with a refreshing lemon and honeysuckle finish. The bubbles are vibrant and lend enough body to make up for not having the alcoholic heft. I was also surprised by the Syrah , which (omg) tasted like Syrah; it's a little smoky and olive-y, with a pleasant tannic structure. Like grape juice on steroids. APERITIF FUN: GHIA APERITIF Before I even got it in the glass, my first thought on opening this was WOW, it is intense. And indeed, the bottle suggests mixing it with sparkling water, ginger beer, or even sparkling wine if you must, but in keeping with this assignment, I went with club soda. Once bubble-ized, it is reminiscent of an amaro, and sure enough, there is gentian in this, along with Riesling grape juice, fig concentrate, orange peel, and an assortment of other botanicals. Honestly, I want to play Negroni with this. Yes, “playing Negroni” is something you can do. I think I'll switch it and Campari out for a lower alcohol take. I have a lot of plans for Ghia. BARELY ALCOHOLIC FUN: BITTERS AND SODA Technically some (not all!) bitters have a tiny bit of alcohol. There are SO many bitters beyond the ubiquitous Angostura and Peychaud’s (not that anything is wrong with those). If you just use a few drops, I am pretty sure the alcohol will come out in the wash, so to speak, but if you are strict, seek out bitters without alcohol, like Fee Brothers Grapefruit bitters . Add to sparkling water to taste and garnish with a grapefruit rind. ENERGIZING FUN DRINKS: KETONAID AND ALANI NU For something completely different, give KETONAID SNAKEWATER a shot. Instead of caffeine and taurine, it has ketone esters and nootropics. It is labeled as tropical, but I almost got cocoa-type flavors out of it. Moreover, I got delightfully wired in a zoned-in sort of way; focus was zero problem, which is unusual for me. On a not-alcohol-free note, well, skip to the end of the article for more on that! It may be 57 percent packaging and naming, but I’ve been enjoying ALANI NU energy drinks. Cosmic Stardust was my entry drug, with the purple packaging, but my favorite is Cherry Slush. I find them at Target; they are also online. Apparently, there's a whole line of products like protein shakes, but I’m here for the pretty cans and bomb-ass flavors and the caffeine-taurine jolt of it all. INFUSED FUN: GINGER TISANE (ESPECIALLY CHILLED) Boil water with fresh sliced ginger root. Let it sit for half an hour, then strain and chill. It is BRACING. I guess you could drink it hot too, but I’ve established that I am not a fangirl of hot liquid beverages unless a) it’s coffee, preferably pour-over or a French press or a double shot of espresso in Italy, after a big Italian meal or b) I’m freezing, which is rare being hot-blooded and in LA. SALTY FUN: LMNT I am OBSESSED with these electrolyte beverage powder packets. I love LMNT so much that I gave some to a friend in my writer group who has low blood pressure, and she got obsessed. Then another member of my writer group tried it, and she, too, is obsessed. But you don’t have to be a writer to love it. Just be a person with electrolyte needs and working taste buds. It has, like, soooo many electrolytes. And being a powder, you can adjust to the saltiness by adding more or less water. The Citrus Salt flavor tastes like a happy hour margarita; in fact, I plan to add tequila soon just for kicks. The Chocolate Salt reminds me of Nestle Nesquik. THE BEST. ALT MILK FUN: CHOCOLATE OAT-LY It is so delicious and rich, and you can forget about most anything, and not in a way that you’ll forget anything else that night. It will just take you away on a momentary pillow of happiness you can tell yourself is healthy because, oats. MY FAVORITE MOCKTAIL FUN: CRANBERRY WITH GINGER ALE AND A TWIST I love nothing more than a cranberry juice cocktail (this actress buys the “diet” type, but any will do) topped with ginger ale. No precise measurements, as sometimes I am feeling more like that cran flavor, and sometimes I want more ginger and bubbles. Just make sure both are cold. I then take a wedge of lime, rub the rind on the glass to express oils, squeeze it, and drop it in. I like this drink any day, any time. Oh! And it’s Vernor’s Ginger Ale for me. Also, the diet version. But use your favorite genre of ginger. TECHNICALLY ALCOHOLIC BUT NOVEL FUN: HARD KETONES Yes, from the same folks as the Ketonaid above. Technically these have alcohol, but instead of ethanol, it’s R 1,3 Butanediol, so instead of converting the alcohol to the stuff ethanol does in your liver, it converts to ketones. I am not a keto diet person, but their Ginger Mule is really fun; it’s slightly spicy, definitely ginger-y and a touch lime-y and will give you a buzz. But my favorite, surprising for me, was the Raspberry Lime Seltzer. I’m not a big hard seltzer girl, but I really liked this. Lastly? Never forget coffee is acceptable at any time of day or night, which reminds me: what is my non-alky shower beverage? I’m going with ginger tisane for a morning shower and bitters and soda for a nighttime one. Because fun beverages have no boundaries. Let them in. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: RAW and Natural Wine: Chilled, Unfined, Unfiltered Sugar and Wine and Everything Fine Further Down the TikTok Rabbit Hole Riesling Part Two: Prädikats-Fine-Wine You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! Megan Bell Wine Situation Final Five! Andrea Jaramillo

Thomson & Scott

Noughty Dealcoholized Syrah

It…tastes like Syrah! With good tannic structure to boot. I was surprised. — 21 days ago

Josh, Trixie and 2 others liked this

Proxies

Sauvage Non Alcoholic White Blend

Very vibrant, crisp! But also with a hint of honey. Just tasty juice. — a month ago

Josh, Trixie and 3 others liked this

Acid League

Proxies Velvet

Complex as can be—the nose is pungent, and on the palate gets mocha and red-fruited. — 21 days ago

Josh, Trixie and 2 others liked this

Thomson & Scott

Noughty Dealcoholized Sparkling Chardonnay

If you told me it was a low alcohol bubbly I’d almost believe you—this is really a pleasant sipper, great if you are entertaining non-drinkers and want something sparkling that’s way more sophisticated than Martinelli’s. — a month ago

Josh, Trixie and 3 others liked this