6 Mocktails for When You Can’t or Shouldn’t Drink

Friends, life has been kicking my ass a fair amount as of late. And one of the ways it’s been kicking my ass is with antibiotics. First things first, I’m fine. But I have to take a course of antibiotics for 28 FUCKING DAYS. And that means NO DAIRY OR ALCOHOL FOR 28 WHOLE GODDANG DAYS. It means feeling mildly crappy for 28 goddang days and I can’t even have a nice dram of whiskey and put my feet up after a long, hard week. A week that involved moving apartments. Friends melting down. A lot of bodily discomfort. What’s a queer to do?

In a word, mocktails. When you need to treat yourself but you can’t or shouldn’t drink alcohol, you can still take part in the ritual of making something special to sit and sip. Just mix the drink, save the alcohol. And honestly, I’d mix and photograph one of these, but I also hurt my back this week (because of course, I did), and I can’t move! Huzzah! Here are ten mocktails, does someone want to come over and make me one whilst I hobble about?

Slow Cooker Apple Cider

From Gimme Oven. A nonalcoholic substitute for this lovely spiked cider recipe.

Cinnamon Water

From the Kitchn.

Crockpot Hot Toddy

From Elana’s Pantry. A great substitute for this hot toddy recipe.

Hot Chocolate

From Martha Stewart. When it doubt, cocoa out! A great substitute for the rum hot chocolate or the red wine hot chocolate. And if you’re ready to really rock on in this vein, here are literally 20 more hot chocolate recipes for you to choose from.

Lavender Lemon Fizz

From The Merrythought. Honestly, lavender and lemon is one of my favorite flavor combos and I’m kinda shocked I don’t do more with it, tbh.

Ginger Clementine Spritzers

From In Sonnet’s Kitchen. Side note, this cocktail is called virgin something or other, and I just really don’t like it when we call drinks without alcohol in them virgin? Like for a lot of reasons. The concept of virginity isn’t my fave concept in the world. And also what, are we despoiling drinks with alcohol? Should stuff without alcohol in it be viewed as less experienced? I’m just not sure what we’re trying to say about virginity, alcohol or sobriety when we mash those concepts together.

And that’s all I’ve got that’s seasonally appropriate, friends! When you can’t or shouldn’t drink (or if you don’t drink! That’s rad too!), what are your killer recipes for nonalcoholic beverages? Please share. 28 days is a long time.

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. As someone who doesn’t drink bc of a genetic history of addiction, my personal favorite drink for when you feel sweaty and gross is to brew a strong hibiscus tea, and mint leaves in about halfway through, and then balance it with a little sweet fruit juice

  2. I find that I don’t miss the booze with a vodka-less bloody mary as the spice and savoury flavours are interesting enough on their own. Also fancy tonic water is great, and if you don’t mind a miniscule amount of alcohol adding a dash of bitters fancies it up.

    • Fee Bros bitters are alcohol-free (& they have a bunch of flavors). One of my favorite mocktails is ginger beer with grapefruit or lemon bitters.

  3. *cough* the reason why you’re told not to drink on anti biotics was because when they were initially being marketed no tests had been done to see if there was a negative reaction between the two (like how there’s a label to seek medical advice if pregnant, again cause no one tests for side effects on pregnant people) – there’s no actual scientific evidence that says you shouldn’t drink, therefore go ahead!

    But as someone with massive risk markers for addiction and therefore doesn’t drink, thanks very much for all of these!

  4. I like ginger ale, a bit of cranberry juice and lime. That probably has a name… I’m sure other people have made it up before but I’m too lazy to google it. Portions aren’t exact, but for me far more ginger ale than cranberry so it isn’t super sweet.

    Hope all goes well for you!

  5. Thanks for the mocktail recipes! I don’t drink alcohol anymore, but it is still nice to treat myself to something. I tend to drink a la croix when I’m craving a beer (like when I’m working in the yard), and sometimes in the evenings I’ll make myself a masala chai from scratch as a treat.

    I gave up alcohol three months ago and I don’t miss it in my life. I didn’t realize how much even one beer could negatively affect my mood the next day.

  6. It’s way too lazy to be a mocktail, but have you tried orange juice with a bit of tonic water? It’s the best orange soda ever.

  7. I don’t drink alcohol anymore either. I tested the family link to addiction and lost. But it’s all good, been in recovery a long time. But the no dairy would be a real issue for me, tbh. I went on vacation with a vegan friend and spent every meal thinking about how her meal would be better with cheese or cream. We visited the Ben & Jerry’s plant in Vermont and she said the vegan ice cream was delicious. I like a lot of vegan food but I love dairy and meat. I’m going to try some of these mocktails. If we were in the same city I would totally come over and take care of you.

  8. Ginger beer with a splash of guava juice, muddled mint and/or lemon balm and/or basil, and a lime wedge. THE BEST.

  9. I’ve been fancying up my La Croix by mixing things in lately. My favorite combos are: orgeat (almond) syrup and ginger; lemon juice and lavender syrup; rosewater and orange blossom syrup. It doesn’t matter which flavor of La Croix you use as a base because all of the La Croix flavors taste the same, that’s right, I said it.

  10. I can’t have alcohol, citrus or caffeine (thanks interstitial cystitis!) so finding mocktails is really hard (also just moved from the US to Germany so no more La Croix for me). When there’s time, making a simple syrup with rosemary and blackberries, and lavender is really good and then just add them to fizzy water. Also seconding the fizzy water with some bitters in it as well (it’s my go to for when I’m out at a bar too – looks like booze so don’t have to field the questions about why I don’t drink).

  11. Honestly, the “can’t or shouldn’t” suggests that is you don’t drink for any other reason, there is something wrong with you. That is not true or cool.

  12. I’m a recovering alcoholic and my best but most complicated mocktail (we call it the Pez Manhattan) is: 1 part OJ, 1 part cranberry juice, 2 parts tonic water, a generous squeeze of lemon, and several dashes of NA bitters. It’s no Manhattan but it has that coveted balance of sweet, sour, and bitter.

  13. Probably stretching to call these mocktails, but what the heck, they are non-alcoholic and good.

    1.) Orange, apple and cranberry juice together.
    2.) Apple cider with a good dash of key lime, or a lime wedge.
    3.) Infuse cold water with:
    …..very ripe cantaloupe and cinnamon
    …..honeydew and mint
    …..cucumber and mint (if you’re looking for not-sweet; very refreshing)
    …..strawberry and lime
    4.) Dang Good butterscotch rootbeer

    hope you feel better soon!

  14. We make a really good one which is:

    Raspberry coulis (get frozen raspberries and heat in a pan with tonnes of sugar)
    Loads of fresh mint
    Fizzy water

    It’s so good! We stole the idea from a bar that makes them for waaaaay too much money.

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