It's been going on for years ... an overwhelming shift to healthier living. For the past decade, better-for-you options have been popping up across all categories: skipping happy hours with friends in favor of workout classes, subbing in herbal tea instead of coffee, prioritizing meditation and sleep above all else — and suddenly alcohol is getting into the mix in a major way.
Spiked seltzers have been dominating lately as the latest and greatest drinking trend, advertised as a tasty and healthier alternative to throwing back beers. Lately, though, we've been seeing alcoholic beverages with less sugar content, cleaner ingredients, and even lower ABV levels, popping up everywhere.
From Haus's low-ABV aperitifs and Bev's zero sugar sparkline wine to Pulp Culture's hard-pressed juice and June Shine's alcoholic kombucha, design-friendly brands are coming out of the woodwork to provide options for every type of social drinker, whether you're trying to avoid carbs, a hangover, or alcohol entirely.
"Consumers are finally realizing their ambition to 'drink better,' explains Mark McTavish, CEO of Pulp Culture. "The 'less bad for you' approach isn't cutting it anymore, and we're seeing a demand for functional ingredients that lead to positive outcomes."
Here, just a few of our favorite healthier alcohol alternatives for when you want to kick back with a cold one.
This line of hard-pressed juice uses 100% raw, fresh juice that naturally ferments over three months, in a process called "wild fermentation." Created by two wellness entrepreneurs, Mark McTavish and Brendan Brazier, this process results in a zero-sugar beverage with "six billion naturally-occurring probiotics, B vitamins, and 4.9% ABV," which is then mixed with nutrient-dense super fruits, including guava and passionfruit, and performance-boostings botanical adaptogens, like ginseng and reishi.
After growing up around winemakers and grape farmers and learning the ins and outs of the industry, husband-and-wife founders, Helena and Woody, decided to create lower-alcohol beverages that are fermented naturally and made with real fruits and botanicals, not artificial flavors. With flavors like "yuzu and ginger" and "rose rosé," the lighter alcohol content makes them perfect for sipping on throughout the day or evening on the rocks or added to simple mixers like soda and tonic.
Our pick: Haus Rose Rosé, $35
Created by two women, Bev was started out of an apartment in Venice, California with the aim of disrupting the mostly male-driven alcohol industry to "build a brand centered around an inclusive, respectful drinking culture with an emphasis on creating female-friendly spaces." It started with a lower-alcohol canned rosé and now includes a sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio. Each can is made with all-natural fruits, zero added sugar, and a little bit of sparkling bubbles for a perfect summertime treat.
Our pick: Ladies Night Variety Pack, $99 for 24
Kombucha has been having a moment lately, thanks to its gut-healing properties, so it makes sense that someone would add in alcohol. The team at JuneShine wanted to create a drink that was equally healthy for consumers and the environment. The drinks are crafted with an initial brew of organic green tea, honey, and JuneShine's signature SCOBY, plus organic honey sugar cane, juices, and spices to taste, to create its variety of flavors. The result is a delicious refreshment with up to 6% ABV (in super-cute cans to boot).
Our pick: Blood Orange Mint, $29.99
Recess is a sparkling water infused with CBD hemp extract and adaptogens for balance and clarity, and real fruit for delicious flavor. The cans are all designed in dreamy pastel colors and filled to the brim with healthy ingredients that help you feel calm, refreshed, and focused. Use this instead of your afternoon coffee (or as the base for a cocktail).
Our pick: The Sampler, $29.99 for a Six-Pack
You're probably already familiar with Cupcake Vineyard's wine and Moscato, but this newly launched subset of the brand is designed for those who like to lead healthier lifestyles. "I'm an avid runner, and some days I want something that's lower in calories and alcohol but doesn't sacrifice flavor," explains Jessica Tomei, winemaker for Cupcake Vineyards. The end result is just 80 calories, 8% ABV, and less than 1g of sugar per serving. It comes in four fruit-forward, aromatic varietals — Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Rosé, and Pinot Noir — that will still allow for that ritual glass of wine at the end of a hard day, without any negative side effects.
Our pick: Pinot Grigio, $9.99