“You won’t take this quadruple shot”.
I rarely turned down challenges.
Especially when they involved drinking. I got good. I’d go to class, football or rugby practice, study, and repeat. Several nights every week. I became competitive with my drinking and wore my tolerance with pride:
- I took flaming shots
- My “pregame” cocktail consisted of whey protein mixed into vodka (no time wasted)
(I’ll spare you the photos)
One day that all stopped. I finally experienced hangovers. I began weighing the night against the next day. Drinking quickly lost its charm.
I still drink, but usually only a cocktail or two.
I missed the social and feel-good parts of drinking. So I got to work looking for healthy alcohol alternatives that give you a nice buzz without hangovers or feeling drained the next day. These are my go-to booze replacements to enjoy the night without regret.
Best Alcohol Alternative: Kin Euphorics
The original nootropic booze alternative, Kin Euphorics does all the heavy lifting for you. Each of their products contain different ingredients tailored to your use. Including
- Vitamins and minerals
- And others
From brightening mood, to sleep, to relaxation, Kin has crafted something for every occasion.
The bottles are wall-pieces and they contain a special-formulation of compounds. Their products are for special occasions.
Runner Up Alcohol Alternative: Sun Chaser
Looking for another done-for-you mocktail? Sun Chaser is a new entrant to nootropic booze alternatives. Their original flavor tastes of fruit and mint, with the following ingredients added:
- 5-HTP (Griffonia simplicifolia)
Or with a little elbow grease, you can make many batches with the following ingredients:
- Fresh juice
- Real Mushrooms Copyceps [Amazon]
- NOW 5-HTP [Amazon]
- NOW GABA [Amazon]
- Nootropics Depot L-Theanine [Amazon]
Using five ingredients you can customize your own nootropic beverage as fit.
How to Make Nootropic Booze
There are two two components to creating your own nootropic cocktail:
- A delicious drink base to sip on
- Powerful ingredients that replicate the effects of alcohol
The Drink Base
Any worthy alcohol replacement needs a solid base. Water’s fine, but not very exciting. Some of the booze alternatives below are raw ingredients that go best in a satisfying liquid.
There aren’t many wrong choices. In my drinks I enjoy either:
- Kombucha (bonus points for homemade)
- Sparkling water
- Fresh juice
- Coconut milk
Match your base to the nootopic booster. For example, the earthy taste of Kava probably would go better with coconut milk than kombucha.
Kava is among the most popular alternatives to alcohol. It’s made from a plant native to the Pacific Islands and is in the pepper family. Kava is a social brew used in the South Pacific, traditionally served in a shell. It’s relaxing, anti-stress, and insomnia-relieving properties are thought to come from an ingredient called kava-lactones.
Kava has an “earthy” flavor best described as an acquired taste. Few sweeteners and mixers effectively mask the taste.
Island rituals have included kava for thousands of years. It’s not the perfect substitute. Despite this, like alcohol, limited research has linked Kava to possible liver injury.
Cannabinoids (CBD & More)
One of many cannabinoids in cannabis, CBD relaxes and de-stresses without the psychoactive effects characteristic of pot (THC). CBD comes in the form of flowers, tinctures, or food and drink infusions.
This cannabinoid in particular exerts adaptogen-like effects throughout the body. It puts my muscles and mind to ease without sedation. Over 100 studies support the neuroprotective effects of CBD.
Unlike booze, my Oura Ring shows that CBD actually improves my sleep scores. CBD works on the endocannabinoid system which is responsible for maintaining homeostasis. Consume too much, however, and you’ll wake up feeling a temporary haze. Combat the mild “CBD hangover” with a squeeze of lemon or a drop of a clean lemon essential oil.
I hesitated putting phGABA on this list. It’s a potent grey-area nootropic regulated in certain countries. Of course, it’s intended for research purposes only. PhGABA is an upgraded version of the relaxing brain chemical called GABA. Why not supplement normal GABA? The phenyl group in phGABA (hence the ph) helps it cross the blood-brain barrier. So phGABA feels similar to alcohol.
But that’s not all.
PhGABA only targets a specific type of GABA receptor. Causing the feel-good effects of alcohol without the slurred speech or loss of coordination. But I was reluctant to list it. Why?
Phenibut builds tolerance extremely quickly. And abuse leads to nasty withdrawal symptoms. I’m able to stick to taking it just once every week or two. If I were prone to addictions, I wouldn’t even consider it.
Keto has become a household name. The diet boomed for its brain-boosting, appetite-reducing, and general health-improving effects. What makes it so powerful? Restricting carbohydrates causes a natural surge of an alternative fuel source called ketones. The brain is accustomed to glucose, and these molecules are like rocket fuel. You can produce them naturally, or take ketone supplements. But one special type of ketone called 1,3-butanediol mimics the effects of alcohol.
Researchers are still investigating the long-term effects of 1,3-butanediol. Early users claim that the buzz resembles a drink or two of alcohol. You can learn more from this short interview snippet.
If you like the energetic effects of drinking, eat (or drink) your beats. Beat juice is well known to promote blood flow. Adding beets will also give your drink an exotic neon-pink glow.
Beetroot also reduces blood pressure. All of which makes it a great post-work beverage.
Don’t want the hassle of gathering ingredients and blending them yourself?
Feel-Good, No-Hangover Mocktails (With a Kick)
I still drink. Lightly here and there. But here’s the thing:
I don’t really miss it.
The right replacements offer far more than booze. You can experience the fun parts of alcohol without the stupor or next-day pain.
In fact, part of the appeal is that these alternatives improve your cognition, sleep, and recovery. You’ll feel great, and wake up the next day primed to perform your best. Your Oura Ring scores will prove it.
There are dozens of other nootropic cocktails. I’ll continue to test new ingredients and formulations as the research emerges. Comment below with your favorite alternatives to alcohol.