10 Low-Alcohol Festive Drinks
The holidays are a time for festive fun, family and friends, and in many cases, a bit of overindulgence. People tend to eat and drink far more during the festive season than they do at any other time of the year – something about big get-togethers calls for treats to be consumed in excess. However, too much overindulgence can do some pretty bad things to the body.
The good news is that you can still have a fun and festive holiday season without causing too much damage. There are many types of low- or no-alcohol drinks that taste just as good and are just as festive as their alcoholic counterparts. But how does alcohol affect the immune system, exactly? And what drinks should you choose to avoid any alcohol-induced damage? Read on to find out.
How does alcohol affect the immune system?
When you drink alcohol, especially in excess, the cells in your immune system that are designed to attack and neutralize pathogens such as viruses and bacteria become weaker and less viable. This means that the immune response towards any pathogen also becomes weaker and the body is likely to suffer from the effects of anything that infiltrates it.
Immune cells are found in various organs throughout the body, and every type of immune cell can be affected by alcohol. For example, the immune cells in the lungs (as well as fine hairs that are designed to keep pathogens out) can become damaged after consuming alcohol. The damaged cells lining the airways cannot fight off viruses or pathogens, which gives them free rein to cause infection in the lungs.
Alcohol also destroys certain microorganisms in the gut that help the immune system function at its best. When healthy gut bacteria are killed off by alcohol, the lowered numbers severely hinder the immune system’s ability to do its job. These factors (combined with the fact that alcohol also causes widespread inflammation, which hinders the immune process) can lead to a person becoming much sicker if they come into contact with a virus or other pathogen.
What drinks have the lowest alcohol content?
Since alcohol does so much damage, you may be wondering how you can still enjoy it without causing too much harm. The good news is that you can still drink – you just have to choose the right type of alcoholic beverage. Each type of alcoholic drink has its own alcohol content, and those with the lowest are your best bet.
While beer is typically associated with the lowest alcohol content, with some light beers coming it at only 2%, there are other types of cocktails that can be lower on the scale than many drinks. For example, wine spritzers contain roughly 6–8% alcohol, and many vodka soda ready-made beverages come in at around 5%.
The good thing about vodka soda ready-made drinks is that most of them are also low in sugar. Some specific brands include:
- Social Lite
- Absolut Vodka Soda
- NÜTRL Vodka Soda
- White Claw
- Ketel One (only 3.6% alcohol content)
- Maha (only 4.2%)
Wine seltzers and hard ciders are also an option for a low-alcohol ready-made drink, as many contain roughly 4–6% alcohol content.
What are some low-alcohol festive drinks?
If the aforementioned drinks don’t strike your fancy, there are a few homemade cocktails you can try throughout the festive season that will keep your spirits up without bringing your immune system down. They include:
- Red Wine Hot Chocolate: To make this holiday drink, heat milk in a saucepan and slowly add pieces of dark chocolate. Once you have the chocolate how you like it, mix in a modest amount of red wine and a pinch of salt.
- Poor Richard Punch: This light holiday beverage is a great choice for anyone who is looking to limit their alcohol intake. Combine 1 ounce of red vermouth and half an ounce of both lemon juice and cranberry cordial. Once mixed, top with 3.5 ounces of a low-alcohol dry cider and enjoy.
- Classic Eggnog: It wouldn’t be the holidays without some eggnog! Combine one part liqueur with three parts eggnog and you have yourself a simple, low-alcohol holiday beverage.
- Christmas Punch: For this festive drink, mix 6 ounces of rum or vodka, 20 ounces of sparkling soda, 1 cup orange juice, 16 ounces pomegranate juice, 16 ounces cranberry juice, and some fresh or frozen pomegranate seeds. The alcohol used is high proof; however, because it’s a large batch of punch, one drink will not contain high alcohol levels.
Image by Frank Zhang on Unsplash: If you’re looking for alcohol-free holiday cocktails, look no further than the Christmas punch, a welcoming beverage that can be made virgin by omitting the rum or vodka.
What are some seasonal non-alcoholic drinks?
If you plan on skipping the alcohol altogether this festive season, that doesn’t mean you have to go without any festive beverages. There are plenty of alcohol-free holiday drinks to enjoy, such as:
- Classic hot chocolate: Simply melt your favorite chocolate in a saucepan with your milk of choice and you have yourself a wonderfully cozy holiday beverage.
- Eggnog, hold the liquor: Store-bought or homemade eggnog without the boozy addition of rum or liqueur can be just as satisfying as the alcoholic kind.
- Cranberry-basil spritzer: To make this beverage, mix together three parts cranberry juice and one part basil, and add in some basil leaves for an extra herby finish. If you like, you could also add fresh or frozen cranberries along with some added sugar to make it a little sweeter.
- Warm apple cider: Combine six cups of apple cider, ¼ cup of maple syrup, 2 cinnamon sticks, six whole cloves, and one orange peel in a saucepan and heat on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Garnish with a fresh cinnamon stick for an extra touch of holiday fun.
- Peppermint julep: The peppermint julep is like your favorite mint julep, only more festive! Combine one ounce of peppermint simple syrup, three ounces of cranberry ginger ale, and one cup of crushed ice in a blender. Once blended, garnish with a candy cane and a sprig of fresh mint.
- Christmas punch: The Christmas punch mentioned above can be made non-alcoholic by holding the rum or vodka.
The holiday season can be a great time for socializing and indulging, but it’s important to remember to take care of your immune system. The good news is that you can still have festive fun without going overboard when it comes to alcohol.