The latest non-alcoholic libations

Cutting “empty” calories? Signing up for designated driver?

These non-alcoholic drinks are less than 0.5 percent alcohol, according to labeling rules, and they’re lower in sugar and empty calories than many other brands that hold the booze.

Heads up: Some cost as much as the real thing. And some may be easier to find online. See each “To buy” for the details.

Hopped Up

HopTea calls itself “tea brewed like craft beer” …and means it. The calorie-free sparkling tea is infused with hops like Citra or Mosaic. Those are the flowers that give IPAs their citrusy bitter notes. But a regular 16 oz. IPA beer can set you back 250 calories. Not a tea drinker? Try H2OPS Sparkling Hop Water.

To buy: HopTea: $35 for a 12-pack ( H2OPS: $9 for a 4-pack ( Some Whole Foods Markets carry single bottles or cans.

Just a Splash

Traditionally bubbly drinks are sweet. A cup of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider, for example, has 140 calories and 7½ teaspoons of juice sugars. But sparkling Spindrift sticks to a splash of “real squeezed fruit,” so a 12 oz. Blackberry, Cranberry Raspberry, or other refreshing flavor has no more than 20 calories. (Of course, you can always do it yourself with a cup of seltzer plus an ounce of fresh-squeezed fruit juice.)

To buy: $6 for an 8-pack.


Athletic Brewing caters to enthusiasts who long for the taste of craft suds, but sans alcohol. A 12 oz. can of its Upside Dawn has lots of hoppy flavor, yet only 50 calories (from carbs). That’s better than the 60 to 90 calories in most other non-alcoholic beers, and way better than the 150 in, say, a 12 oz. Bud.

Craving a Bud Light? New Budweiser Zero nails it, yet still manages to shave the calories from 110 to 50.

To buy: Budweiser Zero: $12 for a 12-pack. Athletic: $13 for a 6-pack (


Unlike many mocktails, Spirity Cocktails doesn’t overpower its “spirits distilled from tea” with sugar. The Mindful Negroni—with just 30 calories and 1½ tsp. of added sugar—came closest to its namesake. Who needs Campari?

To save a few bucks, skip Spirity’s Mindful Mule and add a squeeze of lime to a Fever-Tree Refreshingly Light Ginger Beer, for just 40 calories.

To buy: $15 for a 4-pack (

Zero Proof

Seedlip is a “distilled non-alcoholic spirit.” Two ounces of the Garden 108 (herbal), Grove 42 (citrus), or Spice 94 (aromatic and spicy) have zero calories.

They’re subtle, though. Add more than a splash of seltzer or tonic, and the flavor starts to fade.

For low-cal knockoffs of rum, gin, etc., try Lyre’s. (To dodge food dyes, skip the Absinthe, Italian Orange, and Italian Spritz flavors.)

To buy: Lyre’s: $36 for a 24 oz. bottle ( Seedlip: $32 for a 24 oz. bottle (

Mix it Up

Whether your spirits are zero proof or 80 proof, skip the sugary mixers.

A typical tonic water like Canada Dry has nearly as much sugar as Coke. But Fever-Tree slashes the sugar in its Refreshingly Light line by simply adding less.

For example, a 7 oz. light Indian Tonic Water has just 6 grams (1½ tsp.) of added sugar and 30 calories—without the saccharin or aspartame that’s in many brands of diet tonic. Sweet!

To buy: $5 for a 4-pack.

Photos: Jiri Hera/, HopTea, Spindrift, Athletic Brewing, Mindful Negroni, Seedlip, Fever-Tree.

The information in this post appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

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