• Richie Crowley

The 25 Drinks of a Sober Holiday Season

You owe it to your abstaining friends and family to offer something other than water and Coke.

Three weeks ago, we snapped the wishbone and have been rocking our jingle bells ever since.

Well, that, and bulk recycling the Amazon packages from our Cyber Monday binge, only to then curse ourselves because we have no boxes to wrap presents in. I suck at wrapping anyway; tissue paper and oversized bags it is.

But anyway, it’s here, the season, or as Gen Z social media captions write it, SZN, a shorthand version now being used for almost any type of theme not related to the holidays at all.

And when I say it’s here, what I meant to say is that it’s been here. Our household had just finished the last fun-size pack of Skittles when “Last Christmas” hit theaters, and just last week an aunt invited my sister and me for shopping and Christmas cocktails. Hard pass.

So it’s today, yet another Friday the 13th that so far has failed to deliver anything spooky, two weeks away from 48 hours of hungry in-laws, your brother’s inappropriate Yankee swap present, and debating whether to tell your 9-year old cousin that Santa isn’t real when it hits you: Your cousin’s fiance doesn’t drink.

Well, that’s why I’m here: to discuss a silent stress of the sober community and those hosting them. If not alcohol, then what? Let’s start with the basics.


The non-alcoholic craft beer scene is exploding. Now replacing taps at your local watering hole, carving out shelf space at grocery stores, and being sold online, these best when cold NA beers are here to give you some options:


Considering that most households serve oven-baked bird carcass during the holiday season, here are a few sans-alcohol wines that pair well with the main course:


Sure, you could serve English breakfast or a smooth jasmine green, but what if I told you beer drinkers were converting to an alcohol alternative out of Boulder, Colorado. Meet HopTea.

And let’s not forget the fizzy family that lives down the block: Kombucha

Now, I tell ya, if I was a guest at a holiday meal and opened the fridge to this selection of non-alcoholic alternatives, I’d kiss the ground before my host to honor and thank them for their consideration. But if you want to whip up a few scratch-made NA options, I’ve got your back:


  • 1 can flavored seltzer

  • Squeeze lemon wedge

  • Squeeze lime wedge

  • Activated mint leaf


  • Sparkling white grape juice or NA brut champagne

  • 2 frozen raspberries or strawberries

  • Dash of kombucha


  • Seedlip Grove 42

  • Orange slices

  • Strawberries, halved

  • Lemon and lime wedges

  • Fruit-flavored kombucha

Spiced Cocktail

  • Ginger root

  • Apple

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Cranberry juice

  • In blender or juicer, mix peeled ginger and red apple and cayenne. Filter through cheesecloth, pour over ice, add splash of cranberry.

Mulled Wine

  • Dark grape juice

  • Cinnamon sticks

  • Star anise

  • Cardamom pod

  • Whole cloves

  • Orange zest

  • Orange (juiced)

Uncle Tim: I’m pouring Fireball shots, who wants one? Me: How about a shot of life, Uncle Tim?


If the above dialogue does interrupt dessert, fear not, because the NA spirit market has welcomed some top players in recent years.

Seedlip | Spice 94

Atopia | Spiced Citrus

Kin Euphorics | High Rhode

Three Spirit | Social Elixir

Caleno | Juniper & Inca Berry

California Mule

Bengali Spice Latte

Mocha Mushroom (dessert)

Blend together:

  • Cold-brew coffee

  • Oat milk

  • Bananas

  • Nut butter

  • Cinnamon

  • Honey

  • Mushroom (Superfeast, Moonjuice)

  • Cacao Powder

Your tears

If you were disappointed we did not include a White Claw replacement, then we suggest pouring yourself a glass of your own tears, collected during the post-meal political debate between your Uncle Tim, who shattered his champagne glass during the toast; your Aunt Beth; your brother who came back from Florida; and your cousin on break from their New England liberal arts college.

Enjoy this season responsibly!

Richie. Human.


The difference between Seth Godin, The Morning Brew, and me? I respect your inbox, curating only one newsletter per month — Join my behind-the-words monthly newsletter to feel what it’s like to receive a respectful newsletter.