Your best alcohol alternatives this festive season

December 10 2022 – Team MindFuel

Your best alcohol alternatives this festive season
Your best alcohol alternatives this festive season

For many people the festive season can mean a busy social schedule, with many events where its common that people are consuming alcohol. One of the reasons alcohol is popular is because it can help you to relax and unwind, making it a great social lubricant. Unfortunately alcohol can leave many of us feeling so shattered the next day, that we are anything but social. Not to mention alcohols toxic effects on long-term health and well-being. So for those wanting to drink less, or even not drink alcohol at all, what alternatives are there currently available here in Aotearoa?

In this article we cover all your best options to relax, unwind and socialize either without or with using less alcohol. None of these herbals will get you mashed up quite like alcohol does, but that's the point. These herbals offer you a cleaner, healthier, more sophisticated, alternative buzz that you can totally enjoy in place of alcohol for a great night out.


Kava is the powdered root of the kava plant (Piper methysticum) and the single best alcohol alternative that we have been able to find. The fact kava is drunk as a brew is a big plus as this allows the user to have a drink in their hand. The effect of kava is relaxing on both body and mind, while still feeling clear and social. Kava is best drunk on a fairly empty stomach. While it combines fine with snack food its not so great right after a big meal. Hence the best time to use kava as an alcohol alternative is in the hours before the main meal. Kava is the perfect alcohol alternative for social gatherings where there is drinks and then a meal. The best thing about kava is there is absolutely no hangover or negative after effects.
While the taste of kava is not for everyone, some love it, some don,t, kava can be blended with coconut milk and then added chocolate flavour to make a relaxing non-alcoholic liqueur.


Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) is a mood enhancing herbal remedy from south Africa which can make you feel quite happy and social, while simultaneously  relaxing nerves. Kanna can be used in many ways including as a tea, snuff, smoke, vape, spray or dietary supplement. The capsules are great for going out on or add some of the tincture, spray or tea to a mocktail. Kanna is generally very safe to use but should not be combined with medication such as antidepressants. If in doubt, check with your doctor before using kanna.


Ecsplore is a dietary supplement that supports elevated energy and mood. Perfect for long nights spent dancing and socializing. While more elevating and not as relaxing as the other alcohol alternatives written about here, Ecsplore will keep you going all night and can make you feel quite excited and chatty. Ecsplore is best taken on an empty stomach so time dose at least an hour away from meals to get the best effect.


Mulungu (Erythrina mulungu) is the bark of a south American tree that acts as a natural tranquilizer. The bark is boiled to make a great tasting herbal brew that makes you feel totally relaxed and at ease. Mulungu does not have much effect on mood compared to Kava, Kanna and Ecsplore, it just relaxes. The thing that makes Mulungu a great alcohol alternative is the fact it is consumed in liquid form and tastes great. The brew can be chilled and used as an ingredient to make relaxing mocktails or iced teas.

Herbal teas, tinctures and mocktails

You can create your own non-alcoholic drinks using herbs, extracts and herbal tinctures. Tinctures are potent herbal extracts in liquid form. While many contain small amounts of alcohol as preservative, this can easily be eliminated by adding to a glass of recently boiled water so that the alcohol evaporates off. Or you can just make your own herbal teas, brews or extractions and refrigerate to serve chilled as mocktails. The sky is the limit here in terms of herbs available and ways to make your mocktails taste great and have a potent effect.  Popular herbs include guarana and yerba mate for energy, damiana and pink lotus for mood elevation, lemon balm, chamomile and passionflower for relaxation, muira puama for a loved-up sensual feeling. Hibiscus, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Raspberry and Rose can make great choices to add for flavour as well as their own mild effects. Or you can just add a herbal fruit tea bag or cordial flavour concentrate to taste.

Do you have a favourite alcohol alternative? If you do please let us know in the comments below.


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