With no end to social distancing measures in sight, it's kind of starting to feel like we live in a Twilight Zone where our lives are governed by screens and work, with very little time to relax. It's no wonder that when we finally power down after that marathon Zoom session we somehow managed to attend while simultaneously Googling the Pythagorean Theorem to help with the from-home-math-class, we want to reach for something to signal to our brains that the workday is over.
But while we certainly love to wind down with some wine (organic or natural wine, that is), a nightly tipple isn't doing our skin, sleep, or sanity any favors.
At the end of the day, no matter how you slice it (er... pour it?) alcohol in any quantity isn't great for your health. Drinking has been shown to interfere with our sleep cycles and have inflammatory effects on our bodies. As the liver processes alcohol, it releases a dehydrating toxin called acetaldehyde, zapping skin of much-needed moisture. And that's not all. One 2009 study found that alcohol can disrupt our natural circadian rhythms (hello, grogginess), and another 2017 study found that even moderate alcohol consumption could have long-term effects on cognitive function.
Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S, founder of Ancient Nutrition, notes that one major reason to limit or cut out alcohol is indeed the effect on brain health, citing one French study linking alcohol use to dementia.
"Everyone has different reasons to abstain from alcohol, but there are a few that are common amongst most individuals," explains nutritionist Lisa Richards, creator of the Candida Diet. "The liver processes everything that enters the body, and alcohol is a macronutrient (yes, a macronutrient!) that puts the liver under stress if consumed in an excessive amount. Not consuming alcohol for a month or more can allow the liver to rest and recover."
Enter the non-alcoholic tipple.
An alternative to spirits, these herb-infused botanicals are flavorful, fun, grown-up ways to craft a delicious mocktail as an alternative to wine or a cocktail (or at least... to a second glass.)
Preparing a mocktail has a zen to it: we love garnishing ours with fresh herbs (are you growing your own yet?) and organic citrus. Grant a bit of ceremony to the preparation of your evening mocktail to truly cement the separation between work and play in your day – no booze required.
1. For the Pioneers: Seedlip
Taking inspiration from distilled herbal remedies developed by 17th century physician John French, Seedlip became one of the pioneers of the non-alcoholic botanicals industry four years ago. Today, the company is still going strong, with three offerings made with founder Ben Branson's nine generations strong farming heritage and love of nature in mind. The sophisticated range includes bright, citrusy, dry Grove 42; warm, aromatic, bitter Spice 94; and fresh, herbal, minty Garden 108. Choose your favorite, or stock your bar cart with all three to mix things up according to your mood.
2. For the G&T Aficionado: New London Light
The floral, forest aromas of gin were the inspiration behind New London Light. Made with gin-making principles in mind, this alcohol-free spirit boasts a base botanical blend of Macedonian juniper, ginger, and habanero for a wonderful, spicy kick when combined with classic tonic water. Loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds, this gin alternative is rich in immune supporting vitamin C – another bonus. Serve with an orange slice and a sage leaf to bring out this botanical's all-natural aromas and flavors.
3. For the LA Local Lovers: Optimist Drinks
If shopping local wasn't part of your daily routine before the pandemic, it certainly is now. Finding local shops to support has been one of the main ways we've been staying sane, which is why we're so thrilled that Optimist Drinks exists. This collection of three sugar- and alcohol-free botanical spirits is created in – and inspired by – Los Angeles. Bright shows off the magic of LA's salt-sprayed coastlines, with citrus, jasmine, lavender, and turmeric. Fresh takes inspiration from the local verdant canyons, with wild herbs, anise, and habanero. And Smokey is inspired by the dusky desert, with bitter red orange, warm spices, and lapsang souchong tea. If that weren't enough, this company is giving back to the community by directing two percent of sales to providing youth mental health services. All the more reason to have a drink or two!
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