I don't know whether I'm about to age myself or prove once and for all how much I can't "hang," but the last time I decided to have a few drinks in the middle of the day turned out to be when I unexpectedly took a three-hour nap before dinner. Don't get me wrong—I love a good cocktail and a good mid-day party. But I also know that one too many boozy sips before happy hour will put me to sleep fast.
So here's a refreshing compromise: the mocktail. Filled with sodas and bold flavors, the mocktail is the perfect drink to sip when summer parties start long before sundown. And since they don't have the same sugar levels as their alcoholic counterparts, mocktails make it easier to have an extra helping of barbecue, too.
Try serving one of these non-alcoholic summer drinks at your next party, and I promise your guests will thank you.
Grapefruit Lime Spritzer
Ingredients: Leave it to Jessica Merchant from How Sweet Eats to whip up a drink that's this beautiful. Grapefruit Italian soda forms the blush hue of this concoction, and then freshly squeezed lime juice, crushed ice, and club soda finish things off. Merchant also recommends coating the rim in Himalayan salt.
Chill Out: "Add a bunch of lime, some salt on the rim (I used pink Himalayan salt, hence the color), and it's a cross between a tequila-less margarita and a salty dog minus the vodka," she says. "It tastes so good and fresh."
Rainbow Coconut Water Spritzers
Ingredients: We had to give another mention to How Sweet Eats because Merchant's rainbow coconut water spritzers are exactly the type of refreshment you'd want to serve at a summer party. Filled with handfuls of irresistible fruits—like pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries—and then topped with coconut water and flavored seltzer, this recipe is a decoration in itself.
Chill Out: "Fill each glass with a bit of crushed ice, and then add the fruit in rainbow colors," she says. "I like using the ROY G BIV [rainbow] guidelines!"
Non-Alcoholic Moscow Mule
Ingredients: Admit it, part of the fun of drinking a Moscow mule is because of the glass it's served in. Thankfully, The Butter Half makes a killer non-alcoholic version so that you don't have to give up the glassware or the taste. Ginger blossom soda, mint, ice, and a lime are all it takes to make it happen.
Chill Out: "The key to this mocktail is in the ginger-flavored ingredients," Abbey Rodriguez says. "Most people use ginger beer, but I have an even better alternative—one that contains no refined sugar and is a healthier, allergy-free drink option. Enter Ginger Blossom soda."
Rose Lemon Spritzer
Ingredients: Sometimes a drink is so pretty that you feel bad about making it disappear. And this rose lemon spritzer from Half Baked Harvest falls into that category. Rosewater, honey, and a few drops of blood orange or pomegranate juice give this refresher a lovely hue, and it can be topped off with a garnish of fresh roses, too.
Chill Out: "If you've never used rose water before, don't be afraid of it," Tieghan Gerard says. "Rosewater only adds a subtle floral flavor, nothing overpowering."
Pineapple Mint Agua Fresca
Ingredients: This recipe from Healthy Slow Cooking is so easy that it's ideal for those summer days that you don't want to do much more than lounge. Gather fresh pineapple chunks and mint leaves, and throw them in a blender with water. Combine, serve, and sip.
Chill Out: "This refreshing drink can be made with any fresh fruit you have on hand," Kathy Hester says. "You can also strain it if you don't enjoy the pulp."
Pink Watermelon Lemonade Slushies
Ingredients: Remember when you used to slurp up icy slushies during summer vacation as a kid? This recipe from Half Baked Harvest re-creates that with cubed watermelon slices, freshly squeezed lemon juice, cold water, and ice. It's so fun and nostalgic, you won't care that there's no alcohol in it.
Chill Out: "Add more water if it is too sweet for your liking," Gerard says. "Pour into glass jugs and store in the fridge. Before drinking, make sure to shake the lemonade up."
Strawberry Orange Mango Kombucha Mocktail
Ingredients: Instead of using straight alcohol to liven up this recipe, The Roasted Root opts for kombucha to give it an extra kick. Orange-mango juice, chopped strawberries, and a ripe mango round out the rest for an inventive flavor that is anything but boring.
Chill Out: "A basic formula you can use is two cups of 100% juice for every 32 ounces of unflavored kombucha, plus four cups of fresh fruit," Julia Mueller says.
Mango Meyer Lemon Margarita Mocktail
Ingredients: Grab your closest friends, find an open patio, and serve up a pitcher of this recipe from An Edible Mosaic for the ideal summer happy hour. It features mango purée, fresh lemon juice, ice, and a mint garnish for the type of drink that's meant to be shared.
Chill Out: "I kept the bright citrus flavor here, but replaced lime with Meyer lemon, and also added fresh mango purée along with bubbly water and a little bit of simple syrup to sweeten it up," Faith Gorsky says.
Frosted Raspberry Lemonade
Ingredients: Steamy summer days call for frosted drinks, and nothing will look or taste cooler than this recipe from Food Faith Fitness. It has fresh peaches, frozen raspberries, ice, and a mint garnish, and can be ready in about five minutes.
Chill Out: "Divide the diced peaches between four glasses (1/4 cup per glass) and muddle until the juice is released and the peaches are broken down and soft," Taylor Kiser says.
Blackberry Cider Fizz Mocktail
Ingredients: For those who usually order cider but are looking for an alcoholic-free option, behold this recipe from Hello Glow. Its twist on cider is apple cider vinegar, which is mixed in with blackberries, rosemary simple syrup, and blood orange sparkling water.
Chill Out: "If you haven't added apple cider vinegar to your wellness routine, it's time to start," Stephanie Gerber says. "Drinking one to two tablespoons in water two to three times a day before meals is said to help detox and alkalize the body, keep skin clear, counteract sugar cravings, and boost metabolism."
Sparkling Berry and Pomegranate Mocktail
Ingredients: When you have a few minutes to stir a drink together before company comes over, let us recommend this one from Casa de Crews. Not only does it feature an eye-catching shade of red—thanks to fresh pomegranate juice and cranberries—but you can also use leftover thyme from dinner for a garnish.
Chill Out: "Fresh pomegranate juice, Dasani Sparkling Berry, and cranberries for garnish and taste is the easiest mocktail, made in just five minutes," Nichole Crews says.
Ingredients: Sangria is basically summer in a glass, and that's why it's particularly comforting to know that you can drink it with or without alcohol. This recipe from Simple Vegan Blog makes it with white grape juice, orange juice, blueberries, oranges, peaches, and bananas for a cup that's bright and tasty.
Chill Out: "Let the sangria stand in the fridge for about two hours, although if you can't wait, you can drink it once it's ready," Iosune Robles says.