It’s no surprise that alcohol dehydrates us — that point is obvious to anyone who has ever woken up with a severe hangover and crawled to the nearest faucet (raises hand). And although rehydrating with plenty of water the following day is great, it’s better for your health if you hydrate while you’re drinking (helps reduce your risk of that severe hangover, too).
The Optimum Hydration lifestyle doesn’t mean never imbibing, it simply means making a few small changes to help offset the impact of alcohol on your body’s hydration level.
A great rule of thumb when drinking is to consume at least 8 ounces of water for each alcoholic beverage you consume. If plain water seems too boring, you can opt for lemon water, bubbly water, or even an unsweetened iced tea instead. Simply alternate cocktail/water/cocktail/water throughout your day or evening and it will help you stay one step ahead of the Dehydration Monster.
On top of that, I also have a lot of tips for creating cocktails that are more hydrating:
Hydration Potion! Use my Hydration Potion recipe as a base and add 1-2 ounces of your liquor of choice.
Avoid sugary mixers like soda. Instead rely on 100% pure juice and natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. 100% pure and unsweetened berry concentrates like pomegranate, blueberry, or cranberry are also a great way to add flavor and antioxidants.
Get some bubbles! Use carbonated water or soda water to add bubbles. I like to claim that I invented White Claw hard seltzer because I’ve been creating cocktails with LaCroix for years (see recipes below).
Mix in herbs. Mint and basil are two of my personal favorites. You can simply put them in the drink whole to let them infuse, or you can pulse them in a blender for a few seconds so that they are pulverized into your cocktail base. Now you’re getting a small dose of greens as you enjoy your cocktail.
Remember that water is a mixer, too! It might not be that exciting, but water does make a good mixer with the right liquor. For years my go-to order in a bar was a pint glass of water with lemon with a shot of Kinky Vodka. If you’ve never had Kinky it basically tastes like pink lemonade. I’d just dump it into the pint glass of water, squeeze the lemon wedge, and it tasted like pink lemonade. You can try other flavored vodkas and can also ask for sparkling water instead of still.
Use real citrus juice and wedges. If you’re making margaritas squeeze your own limes instead of using a sugary store-bought mix. A squeeze of lemon, lime, grapefruit, or orange in a cocktail is a nice way to add some vitamins and electrolytes.
Use real sea salt. If you’re making a cocktail that requires salt or a salt rim make sure you’re using natural sea salt, which contains valuable trace minerals that processed table salt does not. A lot of “margarita salt” is just processed table salt in flake form. Maldon Sea Salt Flakes are great for cocktails.
Booze smoothie! Daquiris can be loaded with sugar. Instead, try making a berry smoothie and use honey or maple syrup as a natural sweetener. Add a shot of your liquor of choice and enjoy!
Opt for nut or plant-based milks. Ever tried a White Russian with just a drizzle of maple syrup and oat milk? It’s life-changing.
Spice it up! Get creative with seasonings in your cocktail. Try shaking it with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom. Muddle some mint leaves or jalapenos in the bottom. Use a stick of cinnamon as a stir stick! These are all great ways to add flavor without calories or sugar.
Tea time! Iced herbal tea makes a great base for cocktails. Add a squeeze of lemon or a little honey and call it a day.
Juice it! Use a juicer to make your own, or be lazy and purchase cold-pressed juice. A juice with carrots, celery, and beets will make a great bloody mary. A green juice with cucumbers and apples makes a refreshing mojito-like cocktail — and you get a serving of fresh juice! My recipe for Cucumber + Lime Agua Fresca makes an excellent base.
Manage your proportions. A stiff drink obviously will be more dehydrating, so imbibe responsibly and make your cocktails have a ratio that is like 3:1 (hydrating ingredients to booze).
Try some coconut! Coconut water is full of electrolytes, the exact thing that gets depleted during a heavy night of drinking. You can sneak a few ounces of it into basically any cocktail and it won’t alter the flavor that much.
Infuse your own alcohol flavors. It’s easier than you think! Try combining chunks of ginger and fresh sliced jalapenos in a jar of vodka for 2-4 weeks to create a custom vodka that is great with a little bubble water poured over the top, or try something more refreshing like basil and strawberry!
Wonderful watermelon! A watermelon is more than 92% water, making it an excellent base for cocktails. See the Hydrating Watermelon Margarita recipe below for more details.
Watcha eating? Alcohol tends to make us crave salty, carb-heavy foods that can further dehydrate us. Get ahead of this by having healthy, hydrating foods on hand. These watermelon sticks with coconut lime dip are one of my favorites.
Since I’ve been hydrating for the past decade but also enjoy having a good-ass-time I’ve certainly created plenty of hydrating cocktails in my day. Click below for some of my favorite recipes.