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 for coffee, prioritizing meditation and sleep above all else — and suddenly, alcohol is getting into the mix in a major way.
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Spiked seltzers have been dominating as the latest and greatest drinking trend, advertised as a tasty and healthier alternative to throwing back beers. Lately, though, we've been seeing other types of wellness-focused alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages — those with less sugar, cleaner ingredients, and even lower ABV (alcohol by volume) levels — popping up everywhere.
From Haus's low-ABV aperitifs and Bev's zero-sugar sparkling wine to Pulp Culture's hard-pressed juice and JuneShine'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, prevent a hangover, or decrease your alcohol intake 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."
From hard kombucha to adaptogen-packed drinks, check out a few of our favorite low-alcohol beverages and nonalcoholic alternatives to test out during Dry January.
The Best Low-Alcohol Drinks
Created by Kevin Wong and Sean Ro, Lunar seltzer is made without artificial chemicals or flavors. Described as "Asian Americana in a can," the brand uses premium fruits from Asia. The bright packaging immediately draws you in; they'd look great on any bar cart.
This inventive line of hard-pressed juice was created by wellness entrepreneurs Mark McTavish and Brendan Brazier using 100% raw, fresh juice that naturally ferments over three months in a method called wild fermentation. This process results in a zero-sugar beverage with 6 billion naturally occurring probiotics, B vitamins, and 4.9% ABV, which is then mixed with nutrient-dense superfruits, including guava and passionfruit, and performance-boosting botanical adaptogens, like ginseng.
After growing up around California winemakers and learning the inner workings of the industry, husband and wife founders Helena and Woody decided to craft low-ABV drinks that are naturally fermented and made with real fruits and botanicals rather than artificial flavors. With complex varieties like Grapefruit Jalapeño and Rose Rosé as well as lighter alcohol content, the aperitifs are perfect for sipping throughout the evening on the rocks or adding to simple mixers, like soda and tonic, for an effervescent cocktail.
Established by two entrepreneurial women, Bev began in an apartment in Venice, California with the aim of disrupting the mostly male-driven alcohol industry by "building 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 festive treat.
Kombucha has been having a moment lately thanks to its gut-healing properties, so it makes sense that someone would add alcohol. The team at JuneShine wanted to invent a drink that was equally healthy for consumers and the environment. This hard kombucha is crafted with an initial brew of organic green tea, honey, and JuneShine's signature SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Then, organic honey sugar cane, juices, and spices are mixed in for a variety of flavors. The result is a delicious refreshment with up to 6% ABV (in super-cute cans to boot).
You're probably already familiar with Cupcake Vineyards' wine, but this subset of the brand is designed for those who like to lead a healthier lifestyle. "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, the company's winemaker. That's why each serving of the new LightHearted bottles is just 80 calories, 8% ABV, and less than 1 gram of sugar. The four fruit-forward, aromatic varietals — chardonnay, pinot grigio, rosé, and pinot noir — will still allow for that ritual glass at the end of a hard day without any negative effects.
Transparently made with just sparkling water, organic agave spirit, fruit juice, fruit puree, organic agave syrup, and a pinch of sea salt, Zuzu is a clean sparkling cocktail engineered to replace the "too sweet, dubiously sourced" drinks on the market. The founders were tired of headaches and hangovers, synthetic flavors, and the absence of straightforward nutritional information, so they formulated a refreshing 5% ABV beverage with just six ingredients, 90 calories, and 5 grams of sugar. It's just that simple.
The glamorous Italian spritz meets the retro American wine cooler with Ramona, a vibrant line of wine spritz in cans that is made with organic ingredients, no chemical additives, minimal sulfites, and low alcohol content. The bubbly beverages are the brainchild of sommelier-turned-entrepreneur Jordan Salcito, who was the wine and beverage director for David Chang's Momofuku restaurants before she ventured off to innovate in portable, wine-based cocktails. With flavors like ruby grapefruit and blood orange, the award-winning cans are casual drinking at its best.
Marketed toward sporty millennials who lead an active lifestyle, Canteen Spirits offers canned vodka sodas with 0 grams of sugar, 0 carbs, just 99 calories, and 5% ABV. Flavors like black cherry, cucumber mint, and watermelon are crafted with real vodka and are packaged in convenient 12-ounce cans so that hikers, skiers, and cyclists can tote them easily throughout their outdoor adventures and sip as they go.
Brewed in Hood River, Oregon, Kyla Hard Kombucha is produced by fermenting tea and sugar with a living culture called a SCOBY. In addition to all the gut health benefits it boasts, the fizzy drink also has 4.5% ABV, 0 grams of sugar, and just 90 calories. That means getting tipsy might actually be good for you. We'll take it.
The Best Nonalcoholic Drinks
Sunwink is stocked with wellness powders and sparkling tonics perfect for drinking on their own or mixed with a cocktail. Each flavor is packed with superfoods and adaptogens that can help with releasing stress, stimulating digestion, and boosting your mood.
Co-founded by mixologists, Optimist Botanicals offers nonalcoholic drinks made without sugar or additives. The brand offers three flavors — bright, fresh, and smokey — that are designed to taste like vodka, gin, and tequila, respectively. Not only are the drinks made with a variety of botanicals but they're also inspired by different landscapes in California, including Topanga Canyon, Venice Beach, and Yucca Valley.
Get your classic spirits without the alcohol when you buy the Ritual Zero Proof bundle. Ritual's gin, whiskey, and tequila are crafted with all the flavor but minus the calories. If you need some nonalcoholic cocktail inspo, the brand teamed up with V8 vegetable juice for mocktail bundles and recipes available exclusively on Amazon.
Bonbuz is a functional, alcohol-free spirit made with active ingredients like nootropics and adaptogens to boost your mood without a hangover. The brand recently launched Slowburn, its first spicy flavor with notes of blood orange, grapefruit, and jalapeño, all without sugar or gluten.
Cocktail mixer brand AVEC teamed up with Williams Sonoma for a line of low-sugar, alcohol-free drinks that you can drink solo or mixed with a cocktail. The mixers are made with real juice and natural botanicals and come in packs of four.
Perfect for whiskey and gin lovers, Monday has the same richness without carbs, sugar, calories, or alcohol. Made in small batches with natural ingredients, they're the perfect addition to a nonalcoholic bar cart.
Beautifully packaged, the nonalcoholic Ghia Apéritif is a vegan drink made without artificial flavors, added sugars, and caffeine. It's also created with extracts of natural nervines, aka herbs that help support the nervous system and offer soothing and relaxing benefits.
Enjoy a healthy margarita alternative with Recess' new limited-edition flavor. Made with hemp and adaptogens, this sparkling mocktail is low in sugar, carbs, and calories and can help calm the body and mind.