A few years ago, I decided to start taking regular breaks from drinking. For the past year-and-a-half, I’ve been committed to living a Cali sober lifestyle. And though I long abstain from alcohol, I still regularly enjoy cannabis consumption rituals.
Though I used to enjoy a good alcoholic drink, the outcome of living a drier and higher life was far better than I originally envisioned. There’s a wide range of drinks waiting to deliver a bountiful experience without the debauchery that often accompanies alcohol, and it’s easier to find non-alcoholic drinks with good flavor in supermarkets than ever before.
From classic beers to organic wines and adaptogenic drinks, there’s a whole alternative beverage world waiting to be chugged with fewer regrets. Here’s a list of some libations that have accompanied my low-to-no-alcohol lifestyle in these past few months.
Non-alcoholic elixirs and aperitif
plant-science party starters
Let’s first leap to the spirited land of elixirs. If you commit to the Calisober lifestyle, you’ll hear the word quite often, usually associated with other fancy words, like guayusa and schizandra.
Hailing from the Amazon basin, guayusa leaves are packed with caffeine that helps elevate your mood. Sourced all the way from Siberia, the Schizandra berries promote a healthy liver function, unlike alcohol, which has the opposite effect on this critical filtering organ.
These ingredients and many others are found in the Three Spirits alcohol-free beverages. Mix with tonic water and a fresh citrus peel for a thirst-quenching pick-me-up.
a fancy fizzle
Just when you thought you’d drunk your last aperitivo, Ghia arrived to save the day (or night). The bottle, branding, and tastiness of this potion remind me of Mediterranean bars where fresh panini are served as the wind shakes dangling curtains made of old seashells.
The fig concentrate and rosemary extract in Ghia make me think of Sardinia, but the Gentian root and elderflower extract take me to the southern coast of France – the epicenter of epicureanism and slow living.
a thoughtful tonic
Your inquisitiveness shall be calmed through this fantastic fizzle. Made to honor the Negroni (the only cocktail I actually ordered when going out), this bitter drink contains a good amount of rhodiola—also known as golden root—a natural tonic that combats fatigue and raises your energy.
Using only organic ingredients and no refined sugar, Curious is a thoroughly crafted booze-free beverage that feels healing and complex, a palatable adventure for the newbie and seasoned sober alike.
the N/A beer that will make you a believer
The day I tried Clausthaler I realized that non-alcoholic beer could actually taste delicious. Not just good, but actually enjoyable to the point I’d want to swirl it around my mouth after every sip, making sure I got every corner of my tongue wet. The full flavor profile from the liquid is somewhat smokey and partly sweet.
This is the beer I initially suggest to the naysayer beer aficionados who think that tipples without alcohol aren’t tasty. I particularly enjoy consuming it while eating hearty food, like jackfruit tacos or a Beyond burger. Clausthaler washes down the flavors while refreshing the drinker.
the hipster runner-up
Crisp and hoppy, this lager takes notes from traditional brewing techniques, while using a special yeast that converts grains into beer without producing alcohol in the process.
Although the style could be described as Czech-forward, I like to mix Parc Pils with sangrita (a mix of tomato juice, orange juice, lime juice, hot sauce, salt, and pepper) and drink it michelada-style.
a pleasant discovery
Not even when I used to drink beer did ordering a Sam Adams cross my mind. It just looked like a very unappealing beer, but boy did I swallow my words when I took the first gulp of their non-alcoholic brewski.
The unpredicted passion-fruit punch that got my taste buds going was the perfect lead to the second act, a hazy cloud of bitterness that lingers on your cheeks with the freshness of a minty aftertaste. Initially, I thought it was because I tend to pick limonene-heavy sativas to pair with it, but the fragrant flavor is still there when I don’t smoke.
a trippy hooch
Having a partner that doesn’t drink—or doesn’t drink much—is the best support you can have when heading into a Calisober season like Dry January.
I’m lucky that my eco-conscious Bolivian wife isn’t the party animal that she used to be, and rarely drinks. That said, whenever I order my Wellbeing Intentional IPA, I have to make sure I get some for her. Besides really enjoying the flavor of this beer, she also likes its brand design and name, a reminder of the importance of mindful consumption in all aspects of life.
Sparkling hemp, wine proxies, and non-alcoholic whiskey
the mood enhancer
The best part about being Calisober is, obvious to Leafly readers, that your cannabis consumption doesn’t have to be affected.
In the case of this particular Recess drink, you can enjoy a dose of cannabis in the way of 10mg of broad-spectrum hemp extract, mixed with ginseng, rose petals, L-theanine, and blackberry concentrate.
While this part of the concoction helps relax the body, the complementary dose of chai tea contributes helps the mind, keeping you sharp and focused.
bring a N/A wine to dine
Doing acid takes a whole ‘nother dimension when it comes to wine proxies, a lineup of liquid blends made with wine grapes and other natural ingredients, retaining the original, sometimes acidic characteristics of the vino without the headache.
These non-alcoholic wine proxies are the result of pressing Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, and Sangiovese grapes combined with lychee, rhubarb, or Baijan white tea, Rooibos extract, galangal, and kombu—amongst many other ingredients.
It might sound like something out of an Ayurveda book, but these bottles are more than a drink. They are dinner party offerings, fuel for social gatherings, and movie night companions.
high score for an N/A spirit
Hardcore spirit fans: this one’s for you. The non-alcoholic market has something for everyone and the range of products goes beyond just beer, elixirs, and wine. Monday whiskey has an art-deco vibe reminiscent of the Gatsby-era flair, not just in terms of how it looks but also how it feels.
Creamy butterscotch and caramel provide richness, while matured raisins and roasted coffee give this zero alcohol whiskey depth. It’s topped with notes of warm molasses and burnt brown sugar.
A final tip for staying socially sober in Dry January (and in general)
Drink soda with some Angostura bitters and a lemon squeeze if you feel the urge to have a drink with friends – and always keep a joint nearby.