As the year winds down, the parties ramp up. New Year’s Eve is a time when many cut loose and, perhaps, drinking a little too much. For some, New Year’s Day flies by in a hangover haze, but for chronic pain patients, alcohol can be a tricky thing to navigate, with effects that last far beyond New Year’s Day. Here are some of the best nonalcoholic drink recipes to help you more safely enjoy New Year’s Eve, along with tips for moderation if you do choose to imbibe.
1. Pineapple lemonarita from Sober Julie
We love love love this take on the classic cocktail. With tasty pineapple and tart lemonade, we think you will too.
2. Cardinal punch mocktail recipe from The Spruce
The Spruce creates easy and effortlessly simple recipes that taste and look great. This one is no exception. This nonalcoholic punch with ginger ale also uses cranberry, lemon, and orange juice to create a bright dash of color for your alcohol-free New Year’s.
3. Mango ginger mocktails from Rachel Ray
Can you say double yum? With some fancy ice and delicate slices of mango or orange, this nonalcoholic punch looks gorgeous and tastes great. Plus, ginger is a great anti-inflammatory that can actually help relieve pain. Win-win!
4. Non-alcoholic sangria from The Kitchn
Warm comforting cinnamon and pomegranate juice come together in this take on the classic party pitcher. We love having some fruit to nibble on during longer New Year’s parties too!
5. Cranberry ginger mint mocktail from PainDoctor.com
This one brings holiday flair to the table with its crimson hue and warming ginger flavor. At the base of the drink is a homemade honey syrup that is muddled with mint and topped with cranberry juice and club soda. Finally, it includes ginger as a natural anti-inflammatory that also has an overall calming impact on the digestive system.
6. Ginger-lime fizz from Martha Stewart
Martha always gets it right. These delicate mocktails are crisp and lovely, with just a bit of seltzer and anti-inflammatory ginger. It’s a good thing, as Martha would say.
7. Sophisticated Lady from Food & Wine
While many of Food & Wine’s drinks tend to more complicated, we loved the effortless look and take on the classic Cosmo. If you’re ready to channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw, this is the drink to do it with.
8. Easy party fruit punch from Divas Can Cook
Want to create a nonalcoholic punch for the whole party, that adults and kids alike can enjoy? Look no further than this bright bowl that’s perfect holiday red and adorned with green slices of lime. With a few ingredients, you can throw this together in a flash.
9. Spiced caramel apple cider from PainDoctor.com
Want to get your hands on something cozy? Look no further than this spiced caramel apple cider, one of our favorite winter nonalcoholic drink recipes. The recipe includes some fancier ingredients, but you can make it simply with spices, caramel sauce, and high-quality cider.
10. Grapefruit and rosemary mocktail from The Casual Craftlete
Featured on Woman’s Day, this mocktail has all the beauty of a long-stemmed martini glass with the delicate scents of grapefruit and rosemary. We love how this looks almost as much as we love how it tastes.
11. Nonalcoholic holiday wassail from Taste of Home
‘Tis the season for warm, comforting mugs of holiday flavors. Here they combine tea, cranberry, apple juice, citrus, cinnamon, and cloves into an easy-t0-make nonalcoholic punch that will absolutely be the hit of the party. Spruce it up as they do with orange slices and fancy mugs.
12. Cinderella fruity mocktail from The Spruce
Another of the best nonalcoholic drink recipes also comes from The Spruce! And this one has the classiest, fanciest name to boot. This one combines citrus with pineapple juice and a hint of grenadine to create the gorgeous color. It ends with a splash of ginger ale or club soda. Want to make it fancy? Add some bitters and pineapple slices.
13. Sparkling pear nonalcoholic punch from Tablespoon
Beautiful and classy, with little effort on your part! Simply use a mandolin slicer to slice beautiful pears, add pear juice, the juice of a lemon, and some ginger ale. If you’re sensitive to sugar, feel free to reduce or leave out additional sugar.
14. Watermelon Bellini from What’s Cooking Love?
We’re absolutely in love with this simple and gorgeous nonalcoholic drink recipe. We first saw it featured on Delish, and fell in love immediately. With bright hydrating watermelon and sparkling cider, we think you will too.
15. Cucumber, mint and basil soda from Bon Appetit
If you’ve got less of a sweet tooth, this just may be one of the best nonalcoholic drink recipes for your New Year’s Eve. Mix with sparkling water for even less sugar.
Drinking safely with pain
For some chronic pain patients, there is no safe amount of alcohol. Some medications can become lethal when mixed with alcohol, and there is not a drink in the world that is worth your life. Become the hero of the party and volunteer to be the designated driver. It may seem like the drinkers are having more fun, but who do you think will feel better on New Year’s Day? With these nonalcoholic drink recipes, you have plenty of easy and yummy options to choose from.
If you do decide to indulge, however, and you have your doctor’s permission, follow these tips for a safer New Year’s Eve and Day.
1. Enjoy sessions, shim, or suppressor cocktails
After talking with your doctor and getting the go-ahead for a drink or two on December 31st, ask your bartender for a sessions, shim, or suppressor cocktail. These are three names for drinks that have less alcohol by volume or that use less potent spirits. Sessions cocktails may be a backlash against the recent spate of high-alcohol craft cocktails that have been in bars the past few years, or they may just be gaining ground because people realize that strong drinks equal less time out or at a party.
These types of drinks may focus less on the spirits and more on the supporting mixers. Shrubs (hand-crafted, flavored drinking vinegars) and other flavorings like bitters are mixed with low-proof spirits like vermouth or are “lengthened” (made into a 12- or 16-ounce drink instead of an 8-ounce one) with sparkling water or fruit juice. The result is a complex drink that has a bit of alcohol but not so much that one drink ends your evening.
It is funny to note that the name “shim” comes from the carpenter’s practice of using skinny scraps of wood to make something level. These shim cocktails may help keep you from wobbling, too!
2. Include plenty of water
Parties on New Year’s Eve tend to be long, drawn-out affairs. You may stop somewhere for dinner and then on to the party. If your evening starts at five, this could mean five+ hours out on the town.
While this can be incredibly fun, it can also mean too many drinks over a long period of time. Pace yourself and stay hydrated by drinking a full glass of water between each cocktail. Alcohol is dehydrating; the head pain you feel is actually your water-deprived brain shrinking away from your skull while straining to stay attached. Drinking water throughout the evening means that your body will be continually hydrating. It also helps your body to process the alcohol you drink.
3. Choose white wine over red for less alcohol
In general, white wines tend to have lower alcohol by volume than do red wines. If you are a wine drinker, stick to white wine throughout the evening, or ask your bartender or liquor store which wines have less alcohol. Sweeter wines and sparkling wines (like prosecco and champagne!) typically have lower alcohol content because their sugars have not been converted to alcohol through fermentation (which is why they are sweeter).
One thing to consider that has nothing to do with alcohol: white wines generally have a higher level of sulfites than red wines, both naturally occurring and added as a preservative. If you find you are sensitive to sulfites, stick to organic wines that have no added sulfites.
4. Don’t mix spirits
While mixing spirits alone does not contribute to a worse hangover, there are several factors behind this that may contribute to a more headachy, nauseous day after. The first is that when we order drinks with more than one spirit, we tend to consume more. Long Island iced tea, that staple drink from the 1980s that includes five different types of alcohol, is typically served in a tall glass. The final splash of lemon juice and soda (some bartenders use lemonade and sparkling water, too) may cause you to drink it faster. Suddenly, you are dancing on a table with a lampshade on your head.
Don’t let that happen to you. Stick to a simple cocktail and one type of spirit for the evening. Brown whiskey drinkers, bad news for you: alcohol such as bourbon and scotch contain higher levels of cogeners such as acetone, acetaldehyde, fusel oil, and tannins, the by-products of fermentation, than do clear alcohols such as gin and vodka. Because of this, research has found that brown liquor tends to result in a worse hangover (due largely to dehydration but also to the toxic effect of alcohol) than does clear alcohol.
5. Go mocktail every other drink
Mocktails are favorite versions of alcoholic drinks, minus the alcohol, similar to the nonalcoholic drink recipes we featured above. You’ve got no shortage of options. Allrecipes has a whole section devoted to them.
When ordering, you can ask for “virgin” versions of your favorite drinks. These include drinks like virgin Marys (Bloody Marys with no vodka), virgin coladas, virgin margaritas, and so on. Virtually every drink can be made without alcohol. You can also order a half shot instead of no alcohol.
Some of these drinks (coladas, with or with alcohol, for example) can really add up when it comes to sugar and calories, and sugar can exacerbate chronic pain. Imbibe with caution, even “virgin” versions. Or, simply switch between a drink and one of our nonalcoholic drink recipes over the night.
6. Eat something
Eat something before you have your first drink, and continue to nibble throughout the night. It needn’t be tons of food or anything particularly heavy. Typical party hors d’ouevres will suffice to keep your belly full while not making you feeling overly stuffed.
It is important to talk with your doctor before heading out for New Year’s Eve. There are some cases where any amount of alcohol can be dangerous. In these cases, always stick with our easy to make and simply delicious nonalcoholic drink recipes. If you and your doctor agree that it is safe, following a few simple guidelines can help you drink safely, even with chronic pain.
What are your favorite tips for safe drinking at holiday parties? Which of these nonalcoholic drink recipes are you looking forward to making?