8 Fun and Festive Mocktails for a Healthier Thanksgiving

Psst … alcohol-free drinks might help you save calories, too.

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You’ve probably already heard this number before, but the average Thanksgiving meal—including appetizers and dessert—can easily hit 3,000 calories. If you’re also imbibing throughout the day, that number swells even higher. Not only do the wine calories add up, but let’s face it: Most people tend to eat more when they’re tipsy.

That’s not the only reason to skip the alcohol this Thanksgiving. The typical Thanksgiving meal is already high in carbs, and adding wine, beer, or cocktails to that carb count can spell trouble for people living with diabetes. Alcohol can also negatively interact with certain diabetes medications, too. Learn more about alcohol and diabetes here.

And then there’s the next-day bloating. Thanksgiving can be a heavy meal, to state the obvious. For many people, the day after Thanksgiving comes with bloating and lethargy—and a hangover would only make it worse.

To skip or limit the booze this Thanksgiving, come to the festivities prepared with an enticing alcohol-free drink or mocktail. These 8 exciting ideas will make it easy to turn down the wine. (Note that not all are low-calorie or low-carb.)

1. Chai apple cider

Don’t just settle for a jug of apple cider from the grocery store. To make this non-alcoholic drink enticing, stew fragrant chai spices with your apple cider (you can even do this in the slow cooker). Serve with an orange slice and a cinnamon stick. Check out this recipe for chai hot apple cider from Cookin Canuck.

2. Blood orange + rosemary fizz

For a low-cal, fizzy drink, juice a blood orange and combine with seltzer. Finish with an aromatic rosemary sprig. Rosemary complements the Thanksgiving theme (you probably have some rosemary in your Thanksgiving stuffing), and blood oranges are just starting to be in season. Find out how to make blood orange and rosemary fizz from A Couple Cooks.

3. Dairy-free horchata

Horchata de arroz is a traditional beverage in Mexico; it can essentially be described as rice milk flavored with vanilla and cinnamon. However, while it’s described as rice milk, many recipes for horchata actually include some type of cow’s milk (like whole milk or evaporated milk).

Keeping your horchata dairy-free by using rice milk and almond milk will help cut down on calories and saturated fat. Check out this recipe for date-sweetened, dairy-free horchata from Minimalist Baker.

4. Pumpkin juice

Harry Potter would approve! There are a number of recipes floating around the internet for Hogwarts-style pumpkin juice, but one of the simplest is to mix apple juice, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spice. Find out how to make healthy pumpkin juice from Healthy Kitchen 101.

5. Non-alcoholic sangria

Take infused water to the extreme by piling in generous amounts of in-season fruits (think citrus, apples, cranberries, pears, pomegranates) and fall-themed herbs and spices (like star anise and cinnamon sticks). You can even make it fizzy by using seltzer water instead of plain tap water. Find out how to make non-alcoholic sangria here.

6. Rosemary ginger lemonade

A jug of lemonade might be a go-to option for non-drinking guests, but why not jazz it up? Spiking your lemonade with rosemary simple syrup and fresh ginger not only amps up the fall flavor: The ginger can also help soothe your belly after all that grub. Check out this recipe for rosemary ginger lemonade by Veggiecurean.

7. Citrus sage fizz

Sage is the official herb of Thanksgiving, after all. Here’s another low-cal option: Simply combine grapefruit or orange slices, fresh sage, and seltzer. You can even use citrus-flavored seltzer if you’d like. Find out how to make a grapefruit sage sparkling mocktail from Cook at Home Mom.

8. Cranberry + ginger beer mocktail

Don’t worry: Ginger beer isn’t actually beer. It is brewed and fermented and has a strong ginger flavor, but most commercial brands of ginger beer don’t contain alcohol.

Combine with unsweetened cranberry juice for a seasonal spritz, and serve with a few fresh or frozen cranberries and a slice of candied ginger. Check out this recipe for a sparkling ginger cranberry mocktail from The Speckled Palate.

Whether you’re trying to save some calories, prevent a hangover, or or simply stay sober, these fun + festive beverages will give you a healthier Thanksgiving—with fewer regrets.

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