The Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Pregnancy
Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Pregnancy
December 1, 2021

Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Pregnancy

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Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Pregnancy.
Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Pregnancy

From the moment you started telling people you’re pregnant, you likely started hearing about all the things you’ll have to avoid over the coming months. From various foods and drinks to medications and certain kinds of physical activity, it can feel like there’s a long list of things that are considered unsafe for pregnancy—and alcohol is high on that list.

While it’s true that healthcare experts don’t consider alcohol consumption to be safe at any point during pregnancy, if you’re missing the taste of your favorite alcoholic beverage or if you’re looking for a way to not feel left out while everyone else is drinking, there are thankfully a few non-alcoholic drinks on the market that taste pretty similar to the real thing.

Understanding Drink Labels: Non-Alcoholic vs. Alcohol-Removed vs. Alcohol-Free

Before you make your trip to the store to grab any ol’ bottle labeled “non-alcoholic,” there are a few things you need to know about alcohol levels and legal labeling requirements. No amount of alcohol is considered safe during pregnancy, yet there are some drinks out there that are labeled as “non-alcoholic” that do, in fact, contain some amount of alcohol. So it’s important to read all labels closely to see exactly the alcohol by volume in a given drink, and you should also consult your healthcare provider about how even very low levels of alcohol might affect you while pregnant. Here are the types of labels you’re likely to find:

  • Non-Alcoholic: This is the label you’ll see the most often, and it’s also the one to pay most attention to when trying to avoid alcohol. Technically, drinks only need to have 0.5% ABV or less to legally qualify as “non-alcoholic”…but half a percent isn’t zero, so the label is misleading. If you find a drink labeled “Non-Alcoholic” or “N/A,” look closely at the label for the ABV. More often than not, it’ll say something like “Contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume.” While you’re not likely to get even slightly tipsy off of that level of alcohol after a few drinks, it’s still important to talk to your healthcare provider about it before you try any. (By the way, 0.1-0.2% ABV is about the same amount that can sometimes be naturally found in fruit juices and bread, believe it or not, all thanks to the natural fermentation process some foods go through.)
  • Alcohol-Removed: These drinks begin as either regular alcoholic beverages or they’re made with reduced amounts of alcohol to begin with. Either way, at some point during production, the alcohol is removed via filtration or chemical process to end up with a non-alcoholic version. The important thing to note about this label is that the alcohol can never be completely removed from these products, so they can sometimes have higher than 0.5% ABV, which starts to cross the thin line between non-alcoholic and maybe-just-a-little-bit-alcoholic, so you should look closely at the ABV and potentially avoid these drinks while pregnant.
  • Alcohol-Free: Sometimes labeled as “0.0%” products, these drinks have no detectable amounts of alcohol. That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s absolutely zero alcohol in them, but the amount is so minimal that it doesn’t even show up in lab analysis.

Another thing to look out for on labels is adaptogens, a botanical substance (usually certain herbs or mushrooms) sometimes added to homeopathic medicines or beverages as mood lifters. Adaptogens have been claimed to replicate that “buzz” you’d get from regular alcoholic drinks, but it’s best to avoid them during pregnancy since not enough research has been done to ensure their safety for both pregnant people and fetuses.

A Note on Mixers

If you’re looking to make a mocktail, there’s no shortage of non-alcoholic mixers you can add to make drinks extra tasty. Just be sure to check that the mixers contain zero percent alcohol. And make sure you watch the sugar content, as well, especially if you’re at risk for gestational diabetes. Common mixers like syrups and juices can often be high in sugar, but you may be able to find low-sugar versions (or just use less when mixing).

If you’re mixing with tonic water, some brands may include quinine among their ingredients. Quinine is an anti-parasitic used to treat illnesses like malaria, but it’s also commonly added to tonic water to give it a bitter taste. But it’s not considered safe to consume while pregnant or breastfeeding since some newborns have been found to experience withdrawal symptoms after being exposed to tonic water containing quinine.

We get it, it’s a lot to consider, and it can feel more than a little confusing. (And who wants to think about all this when they’re pregnant and just want to enjoy a nice drink?) So we’ve done the hard work for you and found the best pregnancy-safe non-alcoholic drinks in several categories. We evaluated each option based on flavor (especially how close it tastes to its alcoholic counterpart that it’s mimicking) and mix-ability, and these are our favorites.

Keep in mind: No non-alcoholic alternative is going to taste exactly like an alcoholic beverage, but these picks come really close.

Best Non-Alcoholic Beers for Pregnancy

Best IPA

You might find that most non-alcoholic IPAs will try to replicate the hoppiness of their alcoholic counterpart but will end up tasting either overly bitter or really watered down. This brew from Athletic Brewing Co. is by far the closest IPA flavor and feel we’ve found—it’s got a great craft beer taste that’s sure to satisfy your inner brew connoisseur.

Best Lager

This zero-alcohol version of Heineken is a great option if you’re looking for a light beer taste to enjoy on a hot day. It feels a little lighter than alcoholic beer, but the taste is about as close as you’re going to get. It’s so close, in fact, that if someone passed you one of these bottles and you didn’t look at the label, you’d probably think it was a regular Heineken that’s gone a little flat.

Best Stout

If you’re more of a dark, heavy beer fan, this rich stout from Grüvi is full-bodied with notes of chocolate, honey and nuttiness, and pairs great with barbeque, chocolatey desserts and cold weather. While it is slightly more watery than a typical alcoholic stout, it’s not nearly as watery as the other non-alcoholic stouts out there, and the taste compares to Guinness (complete with a velvety finish).

Best Non-Alcoholic Wines for Pregnancy

Best Red Wine

While this is much lighter on the palette than your average cabernet (it’s understandably a little watery due to the lack of alcohol content), it’s easily the most drinkable non-alcoholic option for red wine. We wouldn’t consider it “full-bodied” by any means, but it’s fruity, a little sweet and pairs well with your typical red wine foods (the distinct blackberry and chocolate notes make it especially more appealing than other non-alcoholic red wines).

Best White Wine

One of the challenges of non-alcoholic wines is that most end up tasting much sweeter than regular alcoholic wine, and that’s especially true with white wines. This sauvignon blanc by Giesen is fairly dry and tart, and it’s less watery than other non-alcoholic wines out there, so it easily made the top of our list for overall taste and mouthfeel. But for how good it tastes, there’s a catch: it hails all the way from New Zealand, and in the US it can currently only be found at Whole Foods (check your local store for availability).

Best Sparkling

Gotta have those bubbles? This citrusy, zesty sparkling wine not only tastes comparable to your typical glass of celebratory bubbly and your regular Sunday brunch mimosa base, the medium-sized bubbles are refreshing without being overpowering (and perfect for mixing with a splash of juice).

Best Non-Alcoholic “Hard Liquors” for Pregnancy

Best “Real” Taste

The taste of hard liquor is understandably difficult to replicate without the typical throat-burn of alcohol, and if it’s that burn you’re looking for in a non-alcoholic drink, you’ll likely either need to go heavy on the ginger or just wait until you’re no longer pregnant or breastfeeding. The non-alcoholic options from Ritual Zero-Proof do the best job at recreating some of that burn from the spices they include, but it’s more of a spicy burn and less of a smooth, warm alcohol burn. But as far as flavor profile goes, Ritual’s Non-Alcoholic Tequila is a favorite for how close it comes to alcoholic tequila, namely Don Julio Reposado. Tequila enthusiasts say it’s not a bad substitute for shots, but it really shines in a tequila-based cocktail.

If you’re not a tequila fan, Ritual makes other non-alcoholic hard liquors including rum, whiskey and gin, all of which work as one-to-one alcohol replacements (meaning you don’t need to change up your cocktail recipes). But keep in mind that they taste best as mixed cocktails, and the rum and whiskey especially taste more like watery syrup when you drink them straight.

Best Botanical Alternative

Botanical spirits are all the rage in non-alcoholic drinks right now, and they offer flavor profiles that are totally different from your average whiskey, rum or tequila. Out of all the botanical alternatives out there, Wilderton’s Lustre is our favorite for its floral and citrus taste (it’s made with bitter orange, tarragon and lavender) and versatile mixability. It mixes great with just about anything sweet or fruity, even tea! Just don’t be tempted to compare it to hard liquor.

Something to keep in mind: Even if non-alcoholic botanical spirits aren’t made with any alcohol to start with (so alcohol is never an added ingredient), the natural fermentation of the fruits, vegetables and herbs that go into flavoring these beverages will produce very small amounts of ethanol, much like some fruit juices. The amount is always less than 0.5% alcohol but if you’re concerned about it, talk with your healthcare provider.

Best For Hot Drinks

In the mood for something warm? This aromatic spice blend from Seedlip (one of the originators of non-alcoholic botanical spirits) brings a satisfying warmth of flavor thanks to ingredients like allspice, cardamom and cascarilla. We love this option best for hot cocktails with deep, rich flavors, so try it in mulled cider, a hot toddy, an Irish coffee or spiced hot cocoa! It also pairs well with eggnog and espresso.

Something to keep in mind: Botanical spirits aren’t meant to be exact replicas of hard liquors—they’re much more floral in flavor, so don’t try to substitute them equally in your typical cocktails. Recipes may take some playing around with to get the flavor you’re looking for, and Seedlip also has a list of cocktails formulated specially for their spirits. And the same goes for botanical spirits as other non-alcoholic hard liquors: they’re made for mixing (you’ll be disappointed if you drink them straight).

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