As you navigate the world beyond alcohol, you might still want your drinks to “do something.” Not in the way alcohol does, but more in the sense of enhancing your mood, boosting your energy, or even helping you relax. Enter so-called “functional beverages”: drinks that are not only booze-free but also boast potential benefits thanks to their blend of adaptogens and/or nootropics.
Adaptogens are natural substances, often herbs, that help the body adapt to stress and promote a sense of balance. Common examples include ashwagandha, ginseng and rhodiola, known for their calming, energy-boosting and mood-enhancing properties, respectively. On the other hand, nootropics are substances that could improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity or motivation. Most people are familiar with caffeine and, to a lesser extent, L-theanine – they’re both widely-used nootropics.
These functional ingredients often claim long-term health benefits, while some may promote short-term feelings of wellbeing. However, it’s crucial to understand that everyone’s body responds differently. The effectiveness of these substances can greatly depend on bioavailability, i.e., how well and how much of these substances are absorbed and utilized by our bodies.
- Kin Euphorics: Kin crafts beverages designed to elevate your state without alcohol. Their drinks blend adaptogens, nootropics and botanicals for a unique “euphoric” experience.
- Little Saints: “Plant magic” mocktails formulated with no sugar and reishi, CBD, terpenes and lion’s mane for a consequence-free mood lift.
- Recess: Recess combines calming hemp extract and adaptogens to help you find a calm, focused state amidst the chaos. It’s like a chill pill in a can, they claim.
- Sun Chaser: Sun Chaser is a carbonated alcohol alternative that uses nootropics, adaptogens, and botanicals they say gives you a buzz without the booze.
But drinks don’t necessarily have to “do” anything to be fantastic alcohol alternatives. Oftentimes, a well-crafted “non-functional” non-alcoholic drink can be just what you need to unwind solo or decompress with friends. In my view, it’s all about the experience and the pleasure of the moment.