The 4 Healthiest Alcohol Choices to Drink This Holiday Season
Walk into a liquor store and you'll likely be overwhelmed by choices. Not all alcohols are created equal (and everyone has an opinion about what's best to drink), so we tracked down the best, healthiest beverages you can feel good about sipping, and the ones your friends and family will thank you for serving.
Before you head for the red wine (which you know to be healthy because of the polyphenols in the pigment), here are the best boozy beverages that are healthier for you than others. Take this guide to the liquor store and know you're buying the healthiest, vegan adult beverages this holiday season and beyond.
The Healthiest Kinds of Alcohol
Hard kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is packed with probiotics. It often includes other good-for-you ingredients like adaptogens, while keeping sugar and carbs in check. Hard kombucha is growing in popularity and increasingly making beer and hard seltzer seem like antiquated drinks of the past. You can typically find a selection of hard kombucha at your local grocery store (usually found in or near the beer section).
Many companies sell directly on their website as well. California is quickly becoming the birthplace of the best hard kombucha around. Here are some of our vegan-friendly recommendations to stock up on:
Flying Embers is known for its adaptogenic blends and wide array of flavors. The brand also manages to deliver a zero-sugar, zero carbs, low-calorie drink, void of any added flavoring or artificial sugars. Not only do they taste good, but they also do good, by donating a portion of their proceeds to firefighters and first responders. Bootchcraft is a San Diego-based company that is perhaps the OG of hard kombucha. These people know how to brew some seriously good — and seriously strong — ‘bucha.
With a 7 percent ACV per can, you can get a buzz pretty quickly, so pace yourself. Bootchcraft recently released a number of seasonal flavors, like Spiced Pear, perfect for coupling with your festive holiday meal. You’ll feel good about supporting this eco-conscious brand that embodies what it means to be a good environmental steward because it contributes to the Regenerative Organic Alliance for each bottle sold.
For a lighter alcohol option, reach for NOVA Easy Kombucha, another San Diego-born company with expert brewmasters at its helm that's been quietly whipping up a seriously-great tasting brew that is easy drinking at its finest. NOVA’s straightforward and familiar flavors are sure to please any palate.
If you’re confused when it comes to buying a clean, healthy wine, you’re not alone. Because winemakers are not required to display ingredients and nutritional info on their labels, it’s hard to make an informed decision. Some wines have tons of additives, artificial flavors, dyes, sulfites, added sugars, and even animal products — like egg whites often used to achieve a certain color, or fish blatter used to filter the wine — none of which they have to list.
The point is, it’s hard to find a wine you can trust. The good news is, there are plenty of transparent and clean-wine brands popping up that promise transparency so you can know you aren’t putting junk in your body. What does clean wine mean? While there is no official or regulated definition of clean wine, we define it with the following criteria:
- Low sulfites: Typically a “low sulfite” wine has less than 100 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur dioxide, whereas regular wine can have up to 350 ppm.
- Organic grapes: Grown with organic farming principles, and pesticide-free, so no nasty chemicals.
- Vegan: No animal products or by-products are used in the winemaking process or added to the wine.
- No synthetic additives.
Not that a “clean wine” is not to be confused with “natural wine,” which typically has no, or very little, sulfites, 10-35 ppm, and follows some other criteria. Below are a few wine brands that meet the above clean-wine criteria and are certainly worthy of your holiday festivities. They’ll likely even earn a place on your wine rack all year round:
Avaline, founded by Cameron Diaz and her partner Katherine Power last year with a promise of a transparent clean wine void of additives and made with organic grapes and low sulfites. Diaz has certainly delivered on her promise. Avaline is also one of the few wines that actually lists nutritional information directly on the label. With white wine and rosé in their initial lineup, the latest addition is a red wine, which is a Grenache and Syrah blend, at an affordable $24 price point.
Made in Rhône, France, it’s light to medium-bodied, with bright red fruit and delicate aromas that will pair perfectly with your veggie-forward holiday meal. For a psychedelic ‘70s-vibe throwback, an organic wine company, Wonderful Wine Co., is also one to consider. While they make red and whites, you’ll most certainly want to try the orange wine.
It’s a perfect way to kick off your meal and have a fun conversation starter for the table since orange wine may be an out-of-this-world concept to your guests: Orange wine is technically a white wine but gets its orange color from grape skins left on during fermentation.
Vodka is often considered the overall healthiest choice since it is low in calories, carbs, and sugar. Vodka is said to help increase blood flow and circulation which can aid in preventing clots, strokes, and other heart diseases. Dating back many centuries, vodka was used for its medicinal properties, rather than for enjoyment. (Of course, drinking vodka — or any alcohol for that matter — should always be done so in moderation.)
Vodka is one of the world’s most popular spirits and is perfect for mixing up a cocktail, serving in a martini, or sipping straight up. Vodka can be made from a variety of plant ingredients, from corn to wheat, to olives ... and even grapes. Here are a few quality, storied vodkas to consider having on hand and getting creative with this season:
Made in California, Hangar 1 is unique in that its made from grapes and grain to produce a smooth and subtly floral-tasting vodka. It’s a taste of the luxurious California coast wrapped up in a bottle, well worth the $41 splurge. For a do-gooder brand, try Hera the Dog, a triple-distilled vodka — which matters because distillation removes impurities and yields a cleaner flavor. Hera donates a percentage of each bottle sold to animal rescue causes. You can follow Hera's journey on Instagram for a healthy balance of helping save animals and delectable cocktail recipes.
Finally, for an elegant vodka designed with a martini in mind, try Kate Hudson’s King St. Vodka, made in Santa Barbara and inspired by her time living in NYC’s Greenwich Village, on King St. Non-GMO and crafted with alkaline water, plus distilled 7 times for purity, the vodka goes down smooth with floral notes. The taste is complemented by its beautiful bottle, sure to be the belle of the ball on your at-home bar.
Leave it to the friends south of the border to come up with the perfect drink for a sandy palm-lined beach that is both healthy, smooth, and "diet-friendly" since it contains Avagins, a kind of natural sugar that is considered "non-digestible" because it acts like fiber in the body and won't spike blood sugar levels when you drink it. Of course all the sugary mixes you add with your frozen margarita might, however, so don't kid yourself that the frozen sweet marg is as healthy as a straight Dos Amigos sipped chilled.
But the sugar in tequila is also known to lower cholesterol and because it acts like fiber, it could even help you lose weight (crazy, we know). So enjoy tequila but make it a good one because the healthiest way is to sip it straight.
For more recommendations, check out The Beet's Product Reviews.