I Tried Non-Alcoholic Spirits For 7 Days and Here’s What Happened
By Katie Dunlop, Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor and Founder of Love Sweat Fitness
Have you heard of these magical elixirs that are like booze, but without the alcohol or calories? Sorta like oat milk, or the Impossible Burger, only for spirits.
If you haven’t heard of them, they’re real… well, ‘real.’ And if you’re like me, your first thought was probably, “Why?”
But then I thought about how many calories are in a margarita, how many of my friends are pregnant, and how early weekday Zoom meetings start. I mean, gin without the alcohol, whiskey without the calories, tequila without the hangover? Count me in.
As a personal trainer and the founder of Love Sweat Fitness, I’m often challenging my community to take on new routines that prioritize balanced living. So I figured it was only fair to take on a wellness challenge of my own--I’d trade alcohol for spirit alternatives.
But not for a lifetime, or even a month. I’d start with a week, thanks.
After doing a little research, I settled on Ritual Zero Proof, because I love margaritas, and they make a tequila alternative in addition to gin and whiskey alternatives. I ordered all three and crossed my fingers.
When they arrived, I was psyched to see that the packaging is really pretty, and came with a recipe book that had some classic cocktails, plus a few new and funky ones.
I started with the tequila alternative (see margaritas, above) which is a warm gold color with a spot-on, grass-and-green-pepper nose. I poured a little and tried it straight. Could I tell the difference between it and tequila?
But it was really close, right down to the burn. And of course, I don’t usually drink shots of warm tequila, because, well… I’m not on spring break. So I decided to try it in my favorite skinny margarita recipe: fresh lemon and lime juice, and a little agave syrup. Shake. Strain. Pour.
I gotta say, mixed up that way, if I hadn’t known it wasn’t tequila, I think it would have fooled me. I polished off my first and made another, because why not.
It’s easy to use, too--basically just swap for booze. My husband Ryan and I started experimenting with different cocktails. He invented one with the whiskey alternative, lemon, honey, and ginger. I don’t like whiskey, so it must have been pretty authentic, because, well, I didn’t like it. But I did love pairing the gin alternative with fresh juices, and even blended up with frozen berries.
At first it felt weird to have the flavor without the buzz. But I found that, even without the alcohol, it totally satisfied a craving. Maybe I was feeling the placebo effect. Or maybe the experience was all I really wanted in the first place. We started calling our evening drinks, “Morning Workouts,” because we could have as many as we wanted and still make our actual morning workout.
And as the days went on, I really started to feel a difference.
By night three, I was sleeping better. Like, way better. Judy Garland better. I felt sharper and more in tune. Plus, I was less tired at 4 or 5 o’clock and I didn’t feel that bloating that I get the morning after a couple alcoholic drinks.
As a wellness professional, I often talk about how bad an idea it is to make rules that restrict you. I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions--they just stress me out, and then I go to extremes breaking them.
It’s way better to just have healthy guidelines that help you find balance. Like, having a green with every meal, or adding fruit to a cheese board. Ritual was like that -- I got the feeling of having a drink, but in balance. It helped me be more mindful.
When my 7 days were up, I decided to try something new. I made a low-alcohol marg -- half Ritual and half Casamigos. IT WAS AWESOME, AND STILL HALF THE CALORIES. Which means I could have two of them. Win!
So, am I going to give up alcohol entirely? No way. Just like I’m not giving up pasta or gluten.
But it’s nice to have an option. Really, it’s about balance, same as greens with every meal. I can still mix up a drink that’s fun and fancy but doesn’t leave me feeling it the next morning – in my head or in my belly.
I love that Ritual has a variety pack with half-sized bottles, so you can try all three of their options. The recipe book is handy too, although the neat thing is that basically, you just make your favorite cocktail, swapping Ritual for booze. (Hey, I just noticed on their site that they offer 10% off for joining their mailing list, bonus.)
Best thing? I don’t feel like I’m having less. In fact, I’m having more of my favorites, and loving every sip :)