Mocktails for Tea Totalers and Alcohol Intolerant People

by Cathy Rust on March 14, 2023


wine poured into wine glasses

My favourite white wine is a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a fine, crisp Sancerre. I admit that I do miss a nice glass of wine at the end of the day.

I had to stop drinking alcohol about 3 years ago because it sends my heart into atrial fibrillation. On top of that, I seem to have developed a yeast allergy which is a particular problem when it comes to wine and gin. There are some wines that give me massive headaches while others don’t. All gins, including non-alcoholic ones, give me massive headaches, which I attribute to the juniper (or possibly the yeast on the juniper).

If my husband is having a glass of red wine, I’ll take a sip of his. It reminds me of my younger, more tolerant days (sigh). Occasionally, I’ll play “wine roulette” and have a small glass of wine if we’re out with friends, but it will depend on what I have on the following day and if I can risk a massive migraine (the usual answer is ‘no’).

When I was in the throws of my night sweats days, a glass of heavy red wine would put me on a continuous night sweats’ cycle all night long. I didn’t clue in that my bad nights were related to the wine until I kept a night sweats journal. Once I avoided red wine, especially a heavy one, the night sweats decreased.

So, if I haven’t had enough messages sent to me that my body doesn’t like alcohol, there really isn’t any hope for me. The bottom line is: Alcohol and I don’t get along!

The problem is that I really like that special drink at the end of the day. It helps my mental transition at the end of day to evening when you allow yourself to de-stress a little, and I tend to equate that ritual, not only to the drink, but equally to the type of glass it’s served in.

When I had to give up wine, I decided I needed a substitute if only so I could have it in a wine glass. This all sounds silly, I know. But it works for me. As long as I have a wine glass filled with something other than water or plain soda water, I am satisfied enough to feel relaxed.

When I was looking for that substitute, I naturally started with the de-alcoholized wine tour, testing almost every available brand at the grocery store. Most of it was horrific, even worse than grape juice. It was pretty depressing, at first. Eventually, I found a few that will do, especially when blended and added to to give them a less “grapey” taste. I also tend to like tonic-based beverages with lime or lemon because they aren’t that sweet.

Here are my requirements for a good mocktail:

  • Not too sweet (no Shirley temples for me!)
  • Has some “complexity” in its taste profile (herbs, bitters, spice)
  • Ability to sip it slowly
  • Not too expensive or difficult to prepare

What’s not in a good mocktail:

  • Alcohol
  • A lot of sugar
  • Artificial colours or flavours
  • Hard to find or expensive ingredients


So, when cocktail hour comes along this is what I drink:

  • A no-gin and tonic: ½ good tonic water, ½ soda water, wedge of lime (Fever-tree makes some great tonics, including a low-sugar one)
  • A non-alcoholic spritzer made with low-sugar de-alcoholized white wine, soda water and a generous lime or lemon slice– really, it’s the only way to stomach most non-alcoholic white wines

  • Non-alcoholic mojito: 1-2 oz, lime juice, simple syrup to your liking, soda water, crushed, 2 tsp fresh mint over ice, preferably in a wine glass (you could add a splash of rum extract if you want to get really fancy)

virgin mojito recipe


I have found a line of dealcoholized wines that are passable. Unfortunately, they come with a hefty price tag so I buy them for special occasions: The Noughty non-alcoholic prosecco and Cabernet Sauvignon -- particularly the prosecco (it will also give me a headache if I drink too much due to the yeast but you have to throw caution to the wind sometimes!)

The good news is there are more and more mocktail options arriving online and in grocery stores all the time. The bad news is, they’re still pretty darned expensive – comparable to alcoholic spirits and real wine, like the expensive, vintage, “mise en bouteille au chateau” stuff.

If you have a favourite non-alcoholic wine or beverage, please share in the comments section!


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