6 No-Alcohol Cocktails That Fight Inflammation

These tasty libations are all under 100 calories and pack powerful antioxidants

Kombucha Mule, Spiced Hot Toddy, Cranberry- Apple Fizz Drinks on illustrated serving tray
Left to right: Kombucha Mule, Spiced Hot Toddy, and Cranberry-Apple Fizz
Photos: Stephanie Clarke, Illustration: Rodrigo Damati

Why do boozy drinks have all the fun? No-alcohol cocktails can be just as interesting and flavorful, something to celebrate a special occasion or just relax with at the end of the day. But as you’re contemplating what you’d like to drink, keep in mind that although zero-proof cocktail recipes may not contain alcohol, that doesn’t automatically make them good for you. Many are loaded with added sugars and calories.

The six recipes below aren’t, plus they have an extra benefit: They’re made with whole food ingredients that contain compounds thought to have anti-inflammatory benefits, such as tart cherry juice concentrate, chia seeds, blueberries, green tea, or turmeric.

Kombucha Mule

A twist on a traditional Moscow Mule, this recipe (shown above, left) uses blood oranges, a robust winter citrus that’s loaded with vitamin C. It also includes kombucha, a probiotic-rich fermented tea drink.

More on Healthy Eating

1 cup blood-orange juice (from 3 to 4 blood oranges)
1 cup ginger kombucha
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 orange slices for garnish (optional)
Fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)

1. Place three to four ice cubes or crushed ice in traditional copper mule mugs or short cocktail glasses.

2. Pour half the blood-orange juice, half the kombucha, and a teaspoon of lime juice (or more to taste) into each mug and stir. Garnish with orange slices and mint sprigs, if desired.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 63 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 15 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 12 g sugars (0 g added), 1 g protein, 3 mg sodium.

Spiced Hot Toddy

This slightly sweet drink (shown above, center) is a warming choice on a cold day. It’s infused with spices like nutmeg and turmeric, and rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants.

2 cups water
2 green-tea bags
2 teaspoons honey
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
Cinnamon sticks and lemon wedges for garnish (optional)

1. Heat the water in a small saucepan until almost boiling. Reduce the heat to low and add the tea bags. Let steep for 2 minutes.

2. Remove the tea bags. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk in the pan until combined and heated through. Serve in glasses meant for hot liquids. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and lemon wedges, if desired.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 40 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 11 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 8 g sugars (5 g added), 0 g protein, 8 mg sodium.

Cranberry-Apple Fizz

This refreshing, not-too-sweet drink (shown above, right) is rich in antioxidants like vitamins C and E from the cranberry juice. The rosemary garnish imparts a light aroma that contributes to the overall flavor.

3⁄4 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
3⁄4 cup sparkling apple cider
½ cup fresh (or frozen) cranberries
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1. Add ice cubes to a short cocktail glasses. Pour half the cranberry juice into each glass, then top with half the sparkling cider.

2. Add the cranberries (which, when frozen, double as extra ice cubes). Garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 80 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 20 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 19 g sugars (0 g added), 0 g protein, 4 mg sodium.

Cherry Spritzer

Tart cherries are different from sweet cherries and have been studied for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. (This drink is best made in single servings.)

1 to 2 tablespoons tart cherry juice concentrate (adjust the amount depending on how tart you like it)
¼ cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
½ cup seltzer
½ teaspoon fresh lime juice
Twist of orange or orange slice for garnish

Tart Cherry Spritzer
Cherry Spritzer

Photo: Stephanie Clarke Photo: Stephanie Clarke

Add ice to a cocktail glass. Pour the cherry juice over the ice, then add the orange juice, seltzer, and lime juice. Garnish with an orange twist or slice.

Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 44 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 10 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 8 g sugars (0 g added), 0 g protein, 28 mg sodium.

Mango-Green Tea Refresher

Chilled green tea with a dash of turmeric is used as the base, a combination that’s loaded with antioxidants, catechins, and polyphenols that may help prevent chronic disease. The mango purée adds vitamin C, fiber, and sweetness.

2 cups filtered water
1 green-tea bag
⅛ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon agave syrup
1 large ripe mango, peeled and cut into chunks, or 1 cup frozen mango chunks, thawed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Lime wedges and fresh mint for garnish

Mango Greet Tea Refresher
Mango-Green Tea Refresher

Photo: Stephanie Clarke Photo: Stephanie Clarke

1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium pot. Remove the pot from the heat and add the green-tea bag, turmeric, and agave syrup to the water. Stir to combine the ingredients and let steep for 2 to 3 minutes (no longer, or the tea may become bitter). Remove the tea bag. Set pan aside to cool.

2. Add the mango, lime juice, and 3 tablespoons of water to a blender or food processor and blend until puréed. Set aside.

3. Once the green tea has cooled, pour it into a pitcher or large jar, then stir in the mango purée until combined. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for an hour or up to three days. Serve over ice and garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of fresh mint.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 62 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 15 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 13 g sugars (2 g added), 1 g protein, 4 mg sodium.

Blueberry, Lemon, and Chia Fresca

Chia seeds soak up the liquid they’re in to form a gel-like consistency. They promote gut health and help stabilize blood sugars. These tiny seeds are also a good source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. And while all fruits are nutrient-dense, blueberries stand out for their high concentration of anthocyanins, compounds that fight inflammation.

2 cups filtered water
1½ tablespoons chia seeds
1 cup fresh blueberries, plus 6 berries for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon agave syrup or honey
Twist of lemon or lemon slices for garnish

Blueberry Lemon Chia Fresca
Blueberry, Lemon, and Chia Fresca

Photo: Stephanie Clarke Photo: Stephanie Clarke

1. Add the water and chia seeds to a pitcher or mason jar with a lid. Shake a few times to mix. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, stirring or shaking once or twice. (This mixture will last for three days in the refrigerator.)

2. Add the blueberries, lemon juice, and agave syrup to a blender and purée until smooth. (Smaller blender containers work well for making this portion of purée, but you can also use a food processor or regular blender.) Refrigerate the blueberry purée in a sealed container until ready to use.

3. When ready to serve, divide the chia water between two cocktail glasses. Add half the blueberry purée to each glass. Garnish each with a lemon twist or slice and fresh blueberries.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 97 calories, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 16 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 10 g sugars (2 g added), 3 g protein, 0 mg sodium.

Stephanie Clarke RD

Stephanie Clarke

Stephanie Clarke, RD, is the founder of C&J Nutrition, a nutrition consulting, communications, and workplace wellness company. She lives in the Washington, D.C., suburbs of Maryland with her husband and two young daughters.