What Drinks to Serve Non-Drinkers This Thanksgiving

Consider Drygiving the antidote to Drinksgiving.

(Bloomberg) -- Drunk relatives at the Thanksgiving table are one of the holiday’s most time-honored cliches, the source of infinite memes and late-night talk show punchlines. 

Sales figures back up the image of overserved aunts and uncles. Thanksgiving is one of America’s biggest, if unheralded, alcohol-fueled holidays—there’s a reason it’s cheekily called Drinksgiving. The day before the holiday is a major sales day at bars and liquor stores across America, according to Womply, a software company that serves small businesses. For liquor stores, it’s the No. 3-ranked revenue day of the year, behind New Year’s Eve and the day before the Fourth of July; sales increase 130% overall. Across the country, stores take in almost $2,500, a 180% increase over a regular Wednesday. Likewise at bars: Revenue rises more than 52% compared with a typical Wednesday.

What Drinks to Serve Non-Drinkers This Thanksgiving

But the trend toward no alcohol is also strong. The NA wine and beer market is expected to reach $30 billion by 2025, up from $20 billion in 2018, according to a 2019 Global Market Insights report. Searches for the word “mocktail” increased 42% over the past year, according to Distill Ventures, an investment fund that has partnered with Diageo. Google Trends found that global consumers searched “non-alcoholic” 81% more often than they did a year ago.

Here are nine options for alcohol-free guests, from an excellent “Riesling” to a holiday-flavored stout to a punch from a noted mixologist. 

Wine Alternatives

What Drinks to Serve Non-Drinkers This Thanksgiving

Eins Zwei Zero Riesling and Sparkling Riesling
The German wine producer Leitz has a strong reputation for their Rieslings that contain alcohol. They expanded the portfolio in an unlikely way, by creating a pair of impressive alcohol-free bottles—one sparkling, one not—using a distillation process that boils off the alcohol at a low temperature while preserving the scent and notes of an off-dry white wine. The sparkling wine comes in a Champagne bottle with a cork and has a slight fizz; even better is the still Riesling, with its citrus nose and taste. Nationally available; about $16 (Riesling) and $20 (Sparkling Riesling) a bottle.

What Drinks to Serve Non-Drinkers This Thanksgiving

The sparkling alternative to Champagne—but really more of a sophisticated version of the Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider you had as a kid—comes in a handsome bottle and bubbles compellingly when the top is unscrewed. The sweet, dark-golden beverage is a mix of white tea, white cranberry, and ginger, with a hit of bitterness from quinine that tastes a lot like a spritzer. It’s especially good for before-dinner mingling. Available at specialty food stores and markets such as Whole Foods; about $21 for three 750 ml bottles.

Beer Alternatives

What Drinks to Serve Non-Drinkers This Thanksgiving

Clausthaler Dry Hopped and Original
Another high-quality German product, Clausthaler, uses a process called extracted fermentation to capture the aroma of hops during the brewing process without producing alcohol. Its line of brews includes its bestselling Original flavor, which has the crisp, fresh taste of a pilsner. Dry-Hopped is copper-colored, with a malty richness that will complement turkey and sweet potatoes quite well. In 2020, Clausthaler will introduce a new flavor: Grapefruit. Nationally available; about $3 a bottle.

What Drinks to Serve Non-Drinkers This Thanksgiving

Athletic Brewing Co. All Out Stout
Athletic Brewing Co. founder Bill Shufelt used to work at Point72 Asset Management before he left the hedge fund world to make nonalcoholic beer. The winter seasonal All Out Stout has malty chocolatey flavors that enhance the fall flavors of Thanksgiving dinner.  “We launched All Out Stout in time for Thanksgiving as it’s a hearty, tasty, and almost decadent beer for the holidays while still being relatively guilt-free at 100 calories,” says Shufelt. “Its complexity goes well with your holiday feast, and it will also keep you warm at the tailgate.” Nationally available; about $2 a can.

Cocktail Alternatives

What Drinks to Serve Non-Drinkers This Thanksgiving

Owen’s Craft Mixers Mint + Cucumber + Lime
This New York-based company was created by brothers-in-law Josh Miller and Tyler Holland with an eye toward streamlining cocktail purchase times at high-traffic venues such as stadiums. They make their mixers with quality ingredients, including pure cane sugar instead of corn syrup. Their newest flavor, Mint + Cucumber + Lime, may say on the label to pair with gin vodka, but ignore that—its bright, fresh flavor is perfect on its own, or perhaps with an extra squeeze of fresh lime. The herbal hit of mint and clean flavor of cucumber make it a refreshing counterpoint to a holiday table full of heavy food. Nationally available at stores such as Walmart and Kroger; a 4-pack of 250ml bottles is about $8.

What Drinks to Serve Non-Drinkers This Thanksgiving

Proteau Ludlow Red
This just-released “aperitif” from former Momofuku beverage director and Bloomberg Pursuits contributor John deBary is a far-ranging combination of botanicals and fruit—blackberry, black pepper, roasted dandelion root, licorice, rose, and hibiscus, as well as a hit of fig vinegar. It’s been picked up as a NA option by top New York restaurants such as Gramercy Tavern, Momofuku Ko, and Dirt Candy, as well as one of the world’s best bars, PDT. Available online; two 750 ml bottles for $70.

No-Booze Holiday Punch

What Drinks to Serve Non-Drinkers This Thanksgiving

Fuji Legend Punch
Alex Day is renowned for his top-notch cocktails as co-owner of New York’s Death & Co. and founder of hospitality company Proprietors LLC. In the award-winning  Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions (Ten Speed, 2018), Day offers a drink called Fuji Legend, mixed with a powerful base spirit of bourbon and jalapeño-infused tequila. Here, he adapted the recipe to be a winning nonalcoholic Thanksgiving punch made with the popular nonalcoholic mixer Seedlip. The mixer is widely available, although if you can’t find it, brew a strong chamomile tea that’s infused with a cinnamon stick. 

Serves 10

25 oz. Seedlip Spice 94, or strong chamomile tea brewed with cinnamon, and cooled
15 oz. fresh apple juice, preferably Fuji
5 oz. fresh lemon juice
5 oz. ginger syrup, store-bought, or recipe follows
10 tsp. maple syrup
Cracked ice, optional
Chilled seltzer, for finishing
Thin apple slices, for garnish

In a punch bowl or two large pitchers, combine all the ingredients except the seltzer and apple slices. Refrigerate until serving.
Fill glasses or cups with ice, if using, and pour in the punch. Top with a splash of seltzer, and garnish with a few apple slices.

For ginger syrup

4 oz. grated fresh ginger
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar

In a small saucepan, combine the ginger and water and bring to a boil. Let cool for 30 minutes. Strain, add the sugar, and bring to a simmer until dissolved. Let cool and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Makes about 8 oz. (1 cup).

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Justin Ocean at

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.