Ask LH: What's A Good Non-Alcoholic Beverage For The Evening?

Dear Lifehacker, I'm in my forties and have drunk alcohol all my adult life. I've decided to quit drinking after starting a relationship with a teetoller whose ex was an alcoholic. I would like to replace the drinks I enjoyed in the evenings with non-alcoholic alternatives. Can you suggest healthy drinks for me to try? Thanks, Ex-Beer Belly

Milk image from Shutterstock

Dear EBB,

Props for putting your partner's feelings above your own enjoyment. She's lucky to have you.

Refraining from alcohol in the evening has a range of health benefits, including getting a better night's sleep. Science has shown that drinking alcohol an hour or two before bed results in less deep sleep, which increases the likelihood of waking up tired and grumpy. So you're doing the right thing!

The answer to your question is obviously dependent on your palate and personal preference when it comes to alcohol. If you're a wine or beer drinker, there are plenty of non-alcoholic brands on the market that provide a similar taste and texture without the after-effects. They also come in identical receptacles, which may make the clean break less painful.

In the case of wine, you could also try a natural substitute such as grape, pomegranate, or cranberry juice. Just be aware that fruit-based beverages tend to be quite high in sugars — diluting with water might be the way to go.

Another option is to make your own signature beverage. As you're doubtlessly aware, most cocktails come in "virgin" varieties which you can find recipes for online. Indian tonic water with a twist of lime is one of my personal favourites. (If you're watching your weight, go for the diet variety.)

Adopting a DIY approach and tweaking your creation can be a highly satisfying way to stay hydrated. We recommend picking up a self-carbonation solution such as the Sodastream. Just ignore this guide to mouth-watering Sodastream cocktails.

We're also going to throw this one over to our readers. What's your favourite non-alcoholic beverage to enjoy in the evening? Let EBB know in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    I haven't given up drinking, but drink rarely now. I used to drink coke zero at bars, but have found that a simple soda with crushed lime and either bitters or a dash of juice is quite nice.

    I love a juice diluted in Soda water! Bubbles without the sweetener or too many calories. For a bonus extra little flavour cut up some fruit to make some punch!

      Soda stream soda water with a few squeezes of the bottled lemon juice over ice - cheap, tangy and low in sugar.

    I've found that a good ginger beer is always nice. Properly brewed it has some of the depth you get out of a beer without the alcohol.
    Otherwise we will often get something like sparkling apple juice or grapetizer.

    Ginger beer!

      If you have a Soda Stream get the Buderim ginger beer syrup over ice!

    Most alcohol-free options are just way too sugary for me, and I'm allergic to aspartame so diet drinks are out - not that you could drink more than one anyway. Iced tea rules, but it's usually full of caffeine (unless it's rooibos). For me at least, it's literally more convenient to just stick to rum over ice.

    I'm going to 2nd/3rd the ginger beer idea!

    Some of my friends have used mineral/soda water with some fresh lime when they've been pregnant, therefore unable to drink but feeling like one - apparently it felt "like you're having a drink, but you're not". But they're vodka/lime/soda drinkers normally - if you like wine, not sure what would 'feel' similar.

      My wife just brought home this Bundrum Ginger Beer syrup - real good!!

    Worth noting that even though fruit juice has a lot more sugar than wine, the wine actually has more calories per volume because of the alcohol. Beer has fewer calories than juice by volume, but then serving sizes also make it so they're all pretty similar.

    I am a huge fan of sparkling mineral water. I used to get home and drink 1/2 to 1 bottle of wine a night, easily. Now I drink sparkling mineral water with dinner and while watching TV, and only drink once or twice a week. In addition to being good for me - I've also lost a few kgs! :)

    I'm not drinking anymore either! I love mineral water or a ginger beer. I also enjoy ice tea (great to have around in the evenings on summer nights) and in Winter, hot tea (mainly herbal).

    I love ginger beer. But the problem with most of them is that they're so overly sweet as to not actually taste of ginger. The huge amount of sugar in them (literally) gives me the shits too.
      As sweet as you like with that ginger tang

      I find the Bundaberg diet ginger beer is a lot less sweeter and more ginger than the standard stuff

    I really enjoy straight tonic water. I guess you have to like bitter flavours, but I find I tend not drink it as quickly as other soft drink.

    I took a month off in January and found the same problem, I wanted the bitterness and hops flavour without the alcohol. The only other things were soft drinks and ginger beer which all seemed to sugary.
    In New Zealand we have these drinks:

    I found the flavour pleasant enough, but not enough bitter and hoppy flavour (its made by one of the big breweries in New Zealand, so not known for flavour)

    I wrote an email to one of local craft beer manufacturers known for being on the bleeding edge hoping they would come up with something similar but better.

    Fizzy elderflower suits me, although it's not as easy to find good stuff over here as it is in the UK. It's light, a little tart, and very refreshing in summer.

    As a person in my 50's who has always been a teetotaler I suggest you could start by trying out the drinks your partner likes to drink in the evenings. If they aren't to your taste you could visit the tea aisle in a Chinese grocery store and try out the many different green and whites teas they have. Or just work your way through the tea aisle in your local Woolies or Coles. I discovered Twinnings Lady Grey tea recently that I love. The Diplomat brand of Lemon Twist tea sold at Aldi is also very nice. There are also some great mint teas you could try.

    In colder months you could try hot milk drinks such as hot chocolates or adding some malt to your hot milk. Or cups of thin soups, beef and chicken broths, tomato soup etc. Sometimes I just keep it simple and have a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of lemon juice added.

    Or as others have suggested above try adding different flavourings to sparkling waters until you hit on several combinations you like. Lemon, pineapple or orange juices are lovely diluted in soda water. I have also tried making up a cup or two of peppermint tea and keeping it in a bottle in the fridge and adding a tablespoon or two of it to soda water for something different. Or try adding frozen grapes or small cubes of frozen watermelon to a glass of soda water instead of ice cubes.

    Another drink I like in hot weather is to take a diet lemonade and mix in a tablespoon of lime juice and dunk a teaball with a teaspoon of dried mint in it. Or if you have access to fresh mint try muddling a small leaves of it in the bottom of the glass before adding the liquid to it. Very refreshing.

    At the moment though my favourite evening drink is just a 350ml glass of ice cold full cream milk with a couple of biscuits to dunk in it. I usually have this as an alternative to dessert. Occasionally I'll switch out the plain milk for a flavoured milk, such as Farmer's Union Ice Coffee, instead.

    I hope a few of the above ideas will give you good starting point to start exploring.

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