“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, party, 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 (gross, I know)
Over time that all stopped. I finally experienced hangovers. I began weighing the night’s fun against the next day’s pain. Drinking quickly lost its charm.
Today I still drink, but usually only a cocktail or two.
I missed the social and feel-good parts of drinking.I started wondering how to get a buzz without alcohol. So I got to work. Researching, sourcing, and testing several dozen ingredients. At last, I found healthy alcohol alternatives feel great without draining your energy or the bed-ridden agony of the morning after. These are my go-to booze replacements to enjoy the night without regret.Certain ingredients induce the same euphoric state, and actively strengthen the brain, without the toxicity of alcohol. #Outliyr Click To Tweet
For more ingredients, check out my thorough list of all the pre-made nootropic brain boosting drinks on the market.
Best Alcohol Alternative: Kin Euphorics
The original nootropic booze alternative, Kin does all the heavy lifting for you. Each Kin Euphorics product contains different ingredients tailored to your use:
- 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.
Match your nootopic booster to a worthy base. For example, the earthy taste of Kava probably would go better with coconut milk than kombucha.
How to Make Nootropic Booze (DIY)
There are two components to creating your own nootropic alcohol replacement:
- Powerful “boosters” that make you feel drunk
- A delicious drink base to add volume and flavor
Choose one or more of the following buzz-producing ingredients, and add them to the base.
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. There’s a myth that kava can lead to liver injury. WHO research found that “Kava has had at least a 1500-year history of relatively safe use, with liver side effects never having arisen in the ethnopharmacological data… Clinical trials of kava have not revealed hepatotoxicity [liver injury] as a problem.” Follow-up studies confirm the safety of high-quality kava for recreational use.
When choosing a safe and effective product I look for:
- 100% certified Noble Kava varieties
- 100% naturally made
I’ve only found one product on the market that fits the bill, and that’s TRU KAVA.
Cannabinoids (CBD, CBN, & 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.
Some cutting-edge research is finding that CBN improves sleep better than CBD. Causing some researchers to call CBN “Nature’s Ambien”. Few pre-made products contain CBN and finding high-CBN hemp has been tricky. FiveCBD contains various cannabinoids, including the slightly euphoric and deeply relaxing CBN.
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 boosting 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.
PhGABA & Picamilon
I hesitated putting phGABA (also called phenibut) 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.
Another related (but far less risky) GABA derivative is called picamilon. It too can pass the blood-brain barrier, and causes the familiar euphoric buzz of alcohol. Picamilon is everything I wanted out of phGABA without the same risk of addiction, tolerance, or adverse effects.
Disclaimer: Science Biologics products are not intended for human consumption and are for research purposes only.
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I’ll admit that beets are a bit of a stretch.
If you like the energetic effects of drinking, eat (or drink) your beats. Beat juice is well known to promote blood flow.Can make an interesting conversation starter as beets 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?
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)
- Flavored sparkling water
- Fresh juice
- Coconut milk
Pour the flavorful base liquid into your glass, and add one or more nootropic ingredients. Enjoy a healthy buzz without feeling bad the next day.
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.
Some of my favorite alcohol alternatives that produce a buzz or social energy boost include:
I’ll continue to test new ingredients and formulations as the research emerges. Comment below with your favorite alternatives to alcohol.