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Best Alcohol Substitutes for a Summer Buzz (2023)

Check out these summer alcohol substitutes!

Summer is the perfect time to kick back, and relax with a refreshing beverage.

These alcohol-free drinks provide a buzz, without the alcohol or the hangover!

Group of people celebrating on the beach with alcohol substitutes
Cheers to no hangovers!

What are Alcohol Substitutes?

Alcohol substitutes provide a similar taste and sensory experience to alcoholic beverages.

Mocktails, non-alcoholic beer & wine, and non-alcoholic spirits mimic their alcohol-containing counterparts.

In recent years, the alcohol alternative industry has exploded with drinks that promote relaxation, stress reduction, and euphoria.

There are many options available, and their popularity continues to increase.

It’s a great time to be sober curious!

Mocktails-an alcohol substitute
Alcohol substitutes offer many options for the sober curious!

Why Consider Alcohol Substitutes?

There are several reasons someone may choose an alcohol substitute. Below are some common motives.

Keep in mind an individual’s decision to avoid or reduce alcohol may involve many factors.

Factors that Contribute to Alcohol Abstinence or Reduction

  • Alcoholism or addiction
  • Health conditions
  • Medications that interact with alcohol
  • Commitment to a healthy lifestyle
  • Taste preference
  • Intolerance to alcohol
  • Desire to socialize when alcohol use is common or encouraged
  • Summer heat
Woman refusing a glass of wine
There are many reasons a person may abstain from alcohol.

Buzzworthy Substitutes for Alcohol

Unlike traditional non-alcoholic beverages, the options below can give you a buzz without any alcohol.

  1. CBD-infused beverages
  2. Cannabis/THC drinks
  3. Kava drinks
  4. Adaptogen containing beverages

Interested in additional wellness drinks that won’t give you a buzz? Check out the Age-Defying Dietitian’s Complete Guide to Wellness Drinks!

Hands with mocktails toasting
Cheers to alcohol substitutes!

1. CBD Infused Beverages

These popular beverages contain CBD (cannabidiol), the non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

Potential benefits of CBD include pain relief, reduced anxiety, and improved sleep.

CBD drinks will not intoxicate you or make you feel high.

Individuals report CBD beverages help them relax and feel more at ease. Onset is estimated at about 20 minutes.

Wylde CBD Sparkling Water

Wylde CBD sparkling water comes in delicious flavors like lemon, grapefruit, blackberry, and raspberry. 

A 12-ounce serving has 25 mg of CBD and 10 calories.

Wylde contains fresh fruit and does not have any added sugar or artificial sweeteners.

CBD Sparking Water as an alcohol substitute
Add fresh fruit to your CBD sparkling water!

cbdMD Drink Mix

All you need is water and a cbdMD drink mix packet for this refreshing poolside beverage!

Individual packets come in a variety of fun summer flavors like fruit punch, lemonade, and peach.

They contain 25 mg of CBD plus 29 mg of Vitamin C!

These mixes are also sugar and caffeine-free. Add them to any cold (or hot) beverage!

Best of all they are more affordable than your typical CBD ready-to-drink beverages.

Drink mixes come in individual packets of 30 for $29.99 (~$1.00 per packet).

cbdMD Fruit Punch drink mix in a glass
cbdMD drink mixes come in a refreshing fruit punch flavor!

2. Cannabis / THC Drinks

Unlike CBD drinks, cannabis or THC drinks, contain the psychoactive form of Cannabis. You can only find these in States where recreational Marijuana is legal.

These new-age beverages typically contain CBD and a low dose of THC.  Most are low in sugar and calories. 

Fans of THC-infused drinks report a relaxed effect without the typical “munchies” associated with a traditional cannabis high.

Cann Social Tonics

Cann creators describe their THC & CBD-containing social tonics as “bubbly, refreshing, and sociable“.

Reviewers enjoy refreshing flavors like grapefruit rosemary and lemon lavender. Cann Social Tonic comes in 8-ounce cans which provide 2 mg of THC and 4 mg of CBD.

They also offer a 12-ounce “Hi-Boy” option that provides 5 mg of THC. For reference, a cannabis gummy typically provides 5 mg of THC.

Cann is naturally sweetened with agave and has about 30 calories per 8-ounce serving.

THC-infused drinks as an alcohol substitute
THC is the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

Keef Classic Colas

These THC-infused sodas come in a variety of flavors. They’ll surely take you back to your carefree summer days – rootbeer, orange, blue raspberry, and purple passion.

Keef classic sodas come in 12-ounce cans and provide 10 mg of THC.

Given their THC content, these sodas may be better suited for an experienced cannabis user.

Nutritionally, Keef sodas are similar to traditional sugar-sweetened soda. They have about 130 calories and 30 grams of sugar per 12-ounce can.

Soda bottles - THC infused soda as an alcohol substitute
Keef sodas are available in classic soda flavors.

3. Kava Drinks

Kava is a plant native to the Pacific Islands and is known for its relaxing effects.  Research shows Kava may aid in relaxation, stress relief, and sleep.

The active ingredients in kava are called kavalactones. Kavalactones interact with the brain to produce a calming effect.

Leilo Calm in a Can

Leilo is a brand of kava sparkling water that is marketed as “Calm in a Can“.

It contains Kava, B vitamins, and I-theanine, an amino acid that may help with concentration.

Leilo comes in a variety of flavors including lemon ginger, blackberry orange, and tango berry.

A serving contains 40 calories per 12-ounce can, and has 8 grams of added sugar.

A “lite” version of Leilo is also available. It is sugar-free and contains only 10 calories. Leilo Lite’s flavor is “kava colada” and is a blend of pineapple, mango, and coconut.

My Review of Leilo Calm in a Can

I purchased this Leilo variety 6-pack from Amazon. The flavors included lemon ginger, tango berry, raspberry hibiscus, and blackberry orange (2 of each flavor). It is pricey at $35.99 for a 6-pack. The cost was justified by comparing Leilo to the price of alcoholic beverages when at a bar.

I really enjoyed every flavor except lemon ginger. I expected this since I have never liked the taste of ginger. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the tango berry.

The drinks are refreshing and similar to flavored sparkling water. The can is similar to the popular canned seltzers. As a result, I did not get the typical question “Why are you not drinking?”.

It seems counterintuitive, however, try to shake or swirl the can around before you open it. If you don’t do this, you may get a bit of the taste associated with kava. Most describe kava as an earthy flavor.

I experienced a dirt-like taste when I did not shake or swirl the can. Once I did the taste was masked by the fruity flavors.

The effect was subtle, yet enjoyable. I felt relaxed and experienced a slight tingle on my tongue and lips. It had a similar effect to how I would feel after one alcoholic beverage.

The downside is that the relaxed feeling doesn’t last very long. After about 30-45 minutes, the numb feeling subsided and you don’t feel much different than before you drink Leilo I suppose this could also be a positive!

I would recommend trying Leilo Calm in a Can for yourself. It tastes good and is a nice alternative to alcohol for the “alcohol occasion”.

U Relax Kava Drink – Ready-to-Mix Powder

U Relax Kava Drink is marketed as a natural way to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

It is sold in ready-to-mix packets that you mix with 4-6 ounces of water. U Relax powder is sugar and calorie-free.

It is sweetened with Stevia and comes in raspberry and pineapple flavors.

Kava mixed in a bowl with water
Kava mixed with water

4. Adaptogen Beverages

Adaptogen drinks contain adaptogenic herbs, which are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress.

These beverages may contain a variety of adaptogenic herbs, such as ashwagandha, holy basil, and ginseng.

Adaptogens are generally considered safe, however, they may interact with certain medications.

Always talk with your healthcare provider before adding Adaptogen drinks to your wellness routine.

Tranquini Adaptogen Drink

Tranquini sparkling waters offer a unique blend of natural herbal adaptogens including green tea, chamomile, and lemon balm.

Flavors include lemongrass, hibiscus, and mixed berry.

Tranquini is sugar-free and contains less than 3 calories per serving. It is sweetened with Stevia.

Mocktails are also a great alcohol substitute. Check out this Age-Defying Dietitian blog post “How to Make the Best Virgin Moscow Mule“.

De Soi

De Soi is a line of sparkling non-alcoholic apéritifs. Natural adaptogens like maca and lemon balm are combined to ease stress.

Glass of Aperitifs
Glass of apéritifs

Unlike non-alcoholic spirits that require cocktail mixers, De Soi is ready to drink.

Varieties of De Soi include Golden Hour, Champignon Dreams, & Purple Lune.

Calorie content ranges from 50-70 calories per 5-ounce can.

De Soi is low in sugar and contains trace amounts of naturally occurring caffeine.

You can learn more about how alcohol substitutes support healthy aging in this previous Age-Defying Dietitian blog post – “Alcohol Alternatives: A Buzz without the Alcohol“.

Alcohol Substitute Takeaways

In conclusion, there are plenty of alcohol substitutes that can provide a buzz, without the negative effects of alcohol!

CBD-infused beverages, THC drinks, kava drinks, and Adaptogen-containing beverages are options for those looking to avoid alcohol.

Keep in mind that claims made by the manufacturers of alcohol substitutes have not been evaluated by the FDA.  In addition, the effects of alcohol substitutes will vary.

Always consult your physician before using any products containing supplements or drugs like THC. 

In addition, reference your employer’s drug and alcohol policy prior to enjoying any THC-infused products.

People enjoying alcohol substitutes at a pool party
Enjoy alcohol substitutes at your next summer gathering!

Hungry for more information on healthy aging?

Check out the Age-Defying Dietitian’s blog for the latest content on all things healthy aging!

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*Please note this blog post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

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