There are few things more satisfying in the warm summer months than grabbing a fruity and refreshing cocktail on a patio, by the pool, or in some far-flung vacation destination. What’s not so satisfying? Jeopardizing your glowy summer skin for the sake of that buzz.
Just one glance in the mirror the day after a booze-filled outing will tell you that alcohol isn’t a friend to your skin. And according to pros, you can blame alcohol’s dehydrating effects for your dull, dry morning-after complexion. “Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it can cause dehydration by increasing urine production,” says Sam Schleiger, a functional dietician and owner of Simply Nourished Functional Nutrition. “This can lead to dry, flaky skin and a dull complexion.” Schleiger also points out that alcohol can cause inflammation, collagen breakdown, and reduced vitamin absorption—all health effects that can leave your skin looking less than ideal.
If you’re still craving the summer-inspired flavors in a margarita or mojito but don’t want to sacrifice the health of your skin, there are plenty of just-as-delicious mocktails that don’t contain complexion-dulling alcohol. Wellness influencer and storyteller Olivia Noceda began her sober curious journey in early 2022 and, since then, has been busy making and posting craft mocktails to her Instagram account that look even more enticing than their spiked counterparts. And as a bonus, most of Noceda’s colorful concoctions include healthy, skin-nourishing ingredients.
If Noceda is trying to make an especially skin-friendly mocktail, she’ll often reach for a collagen supplement (she uses Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides), but she has also recently been incorporating a surprising new ingredient. “Something that’s really new to me that I’ve found to be a great ingredient that’s also super beneficial for the skin is catnip tea,” Noceda says. “Catnip is in the mint family, and it’s really anti-inflammatory and also acts as a natural antiseptic, which is great for the skin.” In addition to collagen and catnip, Noceda also sings the praises of ingredients like hibiscus, liquid fish oil, and butterfly pea flower tea that can be effortlessly added to mocktails and work to transform the skin from the inside out.
Before you begin slinging back the mocktails, though, Noceda is quick to warn imbibers that not all mocktail ingredients are entirely harmless. In general, she recommends avoiding recipes that contain lots of added sugar, since sugar breaks down collagen and elastin in the skin. And for those with acne and/or sensitive skin, she suggests steering clear of chlorophyll or seaweed, as both ingredients can potentially cause breakouts and irritation.
Now that you’ve seen all that’s possible with one simple mocktail, you might be feeling inspired to try mixing one (or two) up yourself—recreating a delicious mocktail recipe (or two), and we’ve got you covered. Ahead, we’ve rounded up the most delicious, summer-inspired mocktail recipes that pack a one-two punch with flavorful and skin-friendly ingredients. Cheers!
1. Kumquat and thyme sour
This kumquat-and-thyme cocktail by Noceda is the alcohol-free version of an herbaceous summer drink. Thyme is just one of the many herbs responsible for promoting circulation and increasing blood flow to the skin. (Plus, it tastes so great in a fruity cocktail). The thyme is paired with kumquat, a sour and tangy citrus fruit filled with powerful antioxidants and vitamin C.
1/4 cup kumquats, cut and muddled
A few sprigs of thyme
1 ounce honey syrup (honey + hot water)
1 ounce lemon juice
2 ounces NA whiskey, cold black tea, or water
2 ounces orange or kumquat juice
1 egg white (substitute for aquafaba for a vegan option)
1. Rim a chilled glass with sprigs of thyme mixed with salt and/or sugar.
2. Add kumquats, thyme, and honey to a mixing glass. Muddle by hand.
3. Add ice, lemon juice, NA whiskey (or cold black tea or water), and orange or kumquat juice into the mixing glass. Shake vigorously.
4. Add egg white (or aquafaba) to a separate glass. Use a hand mixer to whip until frothy.
5. Pour the drink over ice into the rimmed glass. Top with froth.
2. Strawberry-basil lemonade
“This mocktail is packed with skin-loving ingredients like strawberries and basil, which are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds,” says Bash Hovian, a mixologist and owner of bartending service BASH the bartender. “The lemon juice adds a refreshing burst of vitamin C, while the honey provides a natural sweetener without the inflammatory effects of refined sugar.”
1 cup fresh strawberries
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp honey (optional)
Sparkling water or club soda
1. In a blender, combine strawberries, basil, lemon juice, and honey (if using). Blend until smooth.
2. Pour mixture into a glass and top with sparkling water or club soda.
3. Stir well.
3. Watermelon cooler
Meet your summer glow’s new best friend: the watermelon cooler. This recipe, developed by Schleiger, incorporates a number of skin-loving ingredients—including watermelon, mint, coconut water, and lime juice—to craft a truly delicious summer mocktail. Watermelon is chock-full of vitamin C (which is important for collagen synthesis, according to Schleiger), while the coconut water hydrates and the mint acts as an anti-inflammatory. As an added bonus, the splash of fresh lime juice provides an added boost of brightening vitamin C.
1 cup fresh watermelon chunks
1/2 cup coconut water
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar (optional)
Mint sprigs and watermelon wedges, for garnish
1. In a blender, combine the watermelon chunks, coconut water, fresh mint leaves, lime juice, and honey or agave nectar (if using). Blend until smooth and frothy.
2. Add ice cubes and blend again until the mixture is slushy and icy.
3. Pour the mixture into glasses and garnish with mint sprigs and watermelon wedges.
4. Honey orange paloma
If you’re searching for a worthy mocktail replacement for the summer-favorite paloma cocktail, you’ve likely found it here. The Honey Orange Paloma Mocktail, crafted by the team behind Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice, introduces orange juice, egg whites and honey to this traditionally tart cocktail made with grapefruit juice. The sweet, citrusy flavors pair perfectly with patio sipping, and they are incredibly healthy for the skin as well — even down to the mocktail’s garnish. In addition to Vitamin C, oranges are packed with folate, which can help prevent cell damage. Egg whites also contain beneficial proteins that can provide a temporary anti-aging boost for the skin as it minimizes and tightens fine lines and wrinkles. The most surprising skin-loving ingredient in this mocktail is the garnish. According to Brayden James of Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice, the bee pollen granules used as a garnish on this mocktail have strong anti-aging properties due to the high levels of nucleic acids in the pollen.
4 ounces fresh squeeze orange juice (James uses Natalie’s Orange Juice)
2 ounces fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (James uses Natalie’s Grapefruit Juice)
2 egg whites
2 tbsp honey
Bee pollen granules for garnish
1. In a shaker, combine ice, grapefruit juice, orange juice, egg whites, and honey.
2. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
3. Strain into two glasses and top with bee pollen granules.
5. Blackberry thyme mimosa
This mimosa mocktail is a great option for a hangover-free brunch. Apart from simply being visually appealing, the recipe includes antioxidant-rich blackberries and thyme that can perk up even the most dull-looking skin, according to nutritionist Amy Fox. Your mid-day glow has never looked better.
1 tbsp grenadine syrup
12 ounces of sparkling water or ginger ale
Blackberries and thyme for garnish
1. Fill a champagne glass with cold sparkling water or ginger ale, then slowly pour grenadine over the top. Do not mix. Grenadine will slowly sink to the bottom.
2. Top with blackberry and thyme for garnish.