Health consciousness and “sober curious” (excludes alcohol but includes things like marijuana) is on the rise! Therefore, many individuals are seeking alternatives to traditional alcoholic beverages. The desire for social enjoyment without the negative effects of alcohol has led to the emergence of a new category of drinks that promise to deliver euphoria without the hangover. These beverages incorporate a variety of ingredients. Today we are focusing on the 4 most commonly seen: kava, adaptogens, nootropics, and THC. Each of these contributes to a unique alcohol free experience. Let’s delve into the world sober curious drinks that still make you feel drunk.


Kava, scientifically known as Piper methysticum, is a plant native to the South Pacific islands. Traditionally used in ceremonial rituals, kava has gained popularity for its relaxing and euphoric effects. The active compounds in kava, called kavalactones, interact with neurotransmitter receptors in the brain. These particular neurotransmitters are normally related to anxiety and stress. This interaction promotes a sense of calmness and well-being. It is often described as a “natural high” akin to alcohol intoxication, but without the impairment.


Adaptogens are a class of herbs and mushrooms that help the body adapt to stress and maintain homeostasis. Examples include ashwagandha, rhodiola, lions mane and holy basil. While adaptogens don’t directly induce a euphoric feeling like alcohol, they work to balance the body’s stress response. The stress response can indirectly contribute to a sense of relaxation and mental clarity. By modulating stress hormone levels and supporting neurotransmitter function, adaptogens promote a calm yet focused state of mind, sometimes described as a “smooth buzz.” Drinks containing adaptogens are becoming wildly popular and the most common among alcohol free beverages.


Nootropics, also known as cognitive enhancers or smart drugs, are substances that improve cognitive function, memory, creativity, and motivation. Examples include L-theanine, bacopa monnieri, and ginkgo biloba. While not typically associated with euphoria, certain nootropics can enhance mood and overall well-being by promoting neurotransmitter balance and improving cerebral blood flow. The combined effect of increased mental acuity and subtle mood enhancement can mimic the sociability and heightened experience often associated with alcohol consumption.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. It’s what gives marijuana its intoxicating effects. When THC is consumed, whether through smoking, vaping, or ingesting, it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, specifically binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body. In recent years, THC-infused beverages have gained popularity as an alternative to alcohol. These beverages typically contain a measured dose of THC extract, often derived from cannabis plants bred specifically for their high THC content. When THC is incorporated into a drink, it can produce effects similar to those of alcohol intoxication, albeit with some notable differences.

The Sober Curious Customer

The euphoric effects induced by alcohol are primarily attributed to its influence on neurotransmitter systems, particularly gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and dopamine. Alcohol enhances the activity of GABA, a neurotransmitter that inhibits brain activity, leading to relaxation and a sense of euphoria. Additionally, alcohol increases dopamine levels, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter associated with reward and pleasure.

Alcohol-free drinks that incorporate ingredients like kava, adaptogens, nootropics, and THC offer a holistic approach to achieving euphoria without the negative consequences of alcohol. By targeting various neurotransmitter systems and promoting relaxation, stress reduction, and cognitive enhancement, these ingredients create a unique experience that mimics the sociability and enjoyment of drinking alcohol, without the impairment and hangover.

As society continues to prioritize health and well-being, the demand for alcohol-free alternatives that still deliver a euphoric experience is on the rise. By adding having these types of beverage available to your customers, you can increase profit by reaching customers who normally wouldn’t order anything. Why not cater to everyone! Cheers to a healthier, happier way to imbibe!