I Tried Non-Alcoholic Social Tonics and Ranked Them From ‘Just Juice’ to ‘Suspiciously Legal’

non-alcoholicIn the past year, the canned mocktail market has really exploded. Some are just more sophisticated juices, while others have herbal blends to evoke good vibes and relaxation, otherwise known as “social tonics.” I didn’t realize how many there were until I Googled a mocktail recipe, and my Instagram ads said YES. I am very easily influenced, and I have now tried about half of the ones from my ads, found locally at stores in Jacksonville. I list where I found each one, but Sprouts is where I recommend going if you’re interested in this type of non-alcoholic drink. They had so many different varieties and flavors beyond what I was able to try.

I care about the taste, but I also don’t want to just be drinking juice (if I was going to do that, I would simply have lemonade). I tried a few with no vibes, just more adult flavors, but otherwise, I went for drinks that boasted adaptogen, botanicals, nootropics, or something else that promised a vibe in addition to taste.

I was also not compensated for this review so I definitely took cost into account — these mocktails are pricey!

Athletic Brewing Co. Beers

Athletic Brewing Co. Beers are fantastic! They had the flavor and body of beer but no alcohol. I have no idea how they do it, but they’re awesome. These are found pretty much everywhere now — Target, Walmart, Sprouts, and Publix. Delicious and refreshing.

Taste: 10/10  |  Vibes: 0/10  |  Cost: $10.99/6-pack

Free AF

I found Free AF drinks at Sprouts. They have classic cocktail flavors and say they have a “warming effect,” which made me nervous. From what I could tell, the warming effect was actually a bitter note at the end of each sip.  I tried the Paloma and the Aperol Spritz flavors. I did not like the Paloma, but the Aperol Spritz was pretty nice if you already enjoy the flavor of Aperol. I’d buy it again. Other flavors include Cuba Libre and Vodka Soda.

Taste: 7/10  |  Vibes: 1/10  |  Cost: $14.99/4-pack

Parch Agave Cocktails

Parch Agave Cocktails are infused with desert botanicals and adaptogens and flavored with agave. A little higher in calories at 70 calories a can, but these were really tasty and had a great flavor profile. A little on the sweet side, but also has some saltiness to it — very margarita-esque. I also felt a smidge more relaxed but wondered if it was the placebo effect.

Taste: 10/10  |  Vibes: 1.5/10  |  Cost: $3.99/can


Recess has two main categories of beverages — CBD-based and Magnesium-based.

CBD: This was my one and only CBD drink I tried. It made my body feel limp and tired, but my mind was racing. After chatting with people who have more 4/20 experience than me (I have zero, there goes my street cred), apparently different people react differently to CBD, and the way the CBD itself is extracted can also affect the user experience. I disliked my user experience enough to not try anymore. I consulted another sampler, and they said of all the CBD drinks they tried, they liked Recess the best.

Magnesium: This one from Recess uses magnesium as the main relaxation ingredient. It was fine. I did not feel inspired to buy them again.

Taste: 8/10  |  Vibes: 4/10  |  Cost: $4.99/can

Skip all alcohol-free wine (sorry)

My article does not include alcohol-free wine. I have tried four different kinds, and it always plays out the same: Hype myself up. Pour a glass. Take a sip. Make a face. Take another sip. Dump the bottle down the sink.

Sorry! I wish I had better news about non-alcoholic wine.

Taste: 0/10  |  Vibes: -100,000/10  |  Cost: Any amount is too much

READ: Wine Not? A Simple Guide to All Things Wine

Kin Euphorics

Founded by Bella Hadid, Kin Euphorics actually is supposed to do something, not just taste yummy. No CBD, no alcohol, just botanicals. I was looking to relax, so I bought the two flavors without caffeine. I thought maybe a supermodel would really have cracked the code here. These definitely deliver on the vibes but they taste SO bad. I tried two flavors:

LightWave Grounding Calm: Cough syrup flavor. It did not get better as I drank it, either. About half a cup in, I felt RELAXED. The can promised I would feel like dancing naked in the moonlit forest, and I did not want to do that, but it did make me feel one with my couch and loosened my shoulders from around my ears.

Taste: 1/10  |  Vibes: 10/10  |  Cost: $3.99/can; $14.99/4-pack

Sunshine Bloom Beaming Joy: Again, why do these taste SO BAD? It wasn’t as bad as Grounding Calm but definitely was nothing like sipping rosé like the back of the can promised. Also not as knockout-inducing as Grounding Calm, but I went to bed before 9.

Taste: 3/10  |  Vibes: 6/10  | Cost: $3.99/can; $14.99/4-pack

Hiyo: Feel the Float

“Is this DRUGS?!” said my husband accusingly after a quarter of a can. I promised him they weren’t, and we read the website together. Hiyo boasts botanical blends and adaptogens to help you “feel the float.” My husband ended up having both cans I’d bought and said he felt the float and the flavor was great. I have not had a chance to try them; they’re apparently so popular they keep selling out. (If I’d known that I wouldn’t have so generously invited my husband to join my experiment.) When they are available, you can find them at Sprouts. He tried Blackberry Lemon and Peach Mango and preferred the Peach Mango.

Taste: 8/10  |  Vibes: 10/10  | Cost: $14.99/4-pack

What are your thoughts on non-alcoholic social tonics?

Allison Lore
Allison Lore is a California native who is thrilled to be back in the year-round sunshine after a decade of living in the Washington, DC metropolitan region. She has a background in journalism, technical writing and marketing, and currently works as a proposal manager for a civil engineering firm. She relocated to Jacksonville in 2017 with her husband and son. Her passions include baking, coffee, reading and socializing with friends. Her toddler has taught her more than she ever thought she would know about the nuances of construction vehicles.


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