Alcohol is used for a lot of things—to ease the tension of a first date, to celebrate a promotion or wedding. According to Alcohol.org, 65% of people surveyed said that finishing a busy workweek was reason to pour a drink. And while we’re not here to tell you not to drink, we do know that drinking isn’t always the right choice for your event. Maybe it’s too early in the day or your guest list includes those under 21. It doesn’t matter the reason! All that matters is that you need yummy alcohol alternatives for your next event.
If you want to avoid any bar-like ambiance where drinking would be expected, plan your event during the daytime. Yes, drinking is still socially acceptable when the sun’s out, but it’s less common. In general, the evening is more associated with drinking. If an evening event is unavoidable—or even if you’re planning a daytime event—be sure to let your guests know there won’t be any booze. You don’t need to make it a big deal or offer an explanation. Instead, a simple This will be an alcohol-free event on your event website is all you need.
Just because you’re not serving alcohol, however, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for yummy treats. Eating and drinking together are two ways that humans can form strong connections. It gives guests a shared experience and can ease the tension of meeting new people. And you probably want all of that at your event! So don’t forget to bring out the alcohol alternatives. Of course, you can always serve mocktails, but that may not be appropriate for every event. Like, for example, a 10 a.m. work brunch. So here are five beverages that are equal parts yummy and alcohol free.
1) Gourmet Coffee + Tea
Just like drinking alcohol can be a social ritual, coffee and tea aren’t too far behind. According to the National Coffee Association, coffee consumption is up 5% in the United States since 2015. And aside from water, tea is the most consumed beverage around the world. Because so many people drink either beverage, serving one (or both!) are excellent alcohol alternatives.
If you’re only going to serve coffees and teas, we recommend hosting your event a local café or coffee/tea bar where the drinks will be delicious. It may be tempting to buy a large to-go container of coffee and a few boxes of tea bags, and it would likely be cheaper, too. But you’re planning an experience for your guests, and they should experience high-quality roasts. Plus, if you’re hosting at a local café, guests will know ahead of time that it’s an alcohol-free event.
2) DIY Hot Cocoa Bar
If you want an interactive beverage, then DIY hot cocoa bars are the perfect alcohol alternatives! Hot cocoa might not make the top 10 list of most consumed beverages, but it sure is tasty. For this, you can set up a table with differently flavored cocoa powders along with all different toppings. This may include whipped cream, sprinkles, candy cane crumbles, and chocolate sauce. And don’t forget to label everything!
With a cocoa bar, you’ll also need to provide cups, napkins, and spoons, too, which is an added expense. If you need a clever party favor, you can thrift ceramic mugs and have each guest take their mug home after the event. For that, we recommend having a way guests can rinse the cups before they hit the road. And if not all the mugs are scooped, you can always return them to the thrift store! (After they’re washed, of course.)
3) Non-Alcoholic Sangria
Yes, we did give a shout-out to mocktails earlier in this post. But we also couldn’t resist giving non-alcoholic sangria a place on this list because, well, it’s delicious! It’s totally possible to get a sweet and fruity sangria without any wine. You’ll still need fresh fruit, of course. However, instead of wine, you can use any combination of cranberry juice, grape juice, orange juice, or sparkling water of your choice. Jamie from Love Bakes Good Cakes uses all of the above in her recipe!
Making the sangria is easy, too! Simply add all the ingredients into your pitcher and let it sit in the refrigerator until you’re ready to drink. If you’re expecting a large crowd, we recommend a large beverage dispenser or two, instead of multiple pitchers. That way, you can make more at once, and it will decrease the risk of spilling.
4) Fresh Smoothies
Who doesn’t love smoothies? They’re perfect for any event because you can put almost anything in them. And you have serving options, too. On one hand, you can host your event a smoothie bar—much like our recommendation to host a coffee-only event at a coffee shop. This ensures that the smoothies are delicious and saves you the hassle of getting the ingredients yourself. On the other hand, if you host a build-your-own-smoothie bar, guests can custom choose their ingredients, which allows for creativity.
Of course, whatever you choose will be based on availability and budget. If you choose to host your own smoothie party, we recommend offering your guests a few sample recipes, so they have something to work with. Although there’s a smoothie out there for everyone, not everyone knows the recipe.
5) Specialty Soda
Specialty sodas are the easiest alcohol alternatives on this list. There’s nothing to prepare, like mixing the sangria ingredients, and you don’t have to coordinate any drink vouchers, like going to a public place. All you have to do instead is buy the sodas and transport them in coolers so they’re chilled for the event. Usually, specialty soda comes in individual bottles, so everyone can pick their own. This also reduces the spill risk of typical two-liter bottles and eliminates the need for cups.
Of course, specialty sodas aren’t sold at every grocery store, so you may need to order them online. Do a little research before deciding on the fizzy drinks. They’re easy and delicious, but you’ll need advanced notice to order them.
When in doubt, focus on the food
If you’re not sure about alcohol alternatives for drinking, then focus your event on the food. Cater the right food for the time of day, and make the beverages the backdrop. If you’re serving brunch, over a variety of juices—but don’t over-complicate it. You don’t need to go the extra mile with fresh squeezed juice or ten different options. Simply choose two or three kids of juices, offer some coffee, and let the food be the star of the show.
Planning an alcohol-free event may seem challenging at first. Alcohol is such a common beverage at any get together. But there are so many other delicious drinks out there to drink instead! From smoothies to gourmet coffee, your guests won’t even miss the booze. Just don’t forget to let them know ahead of time on your event website.
What’s your favorite non-alcoholic drink? Was there alcohol at the last event you went to?