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The Complete (And Biased) Ranking Of Non-Alcoholic Summer Beverages

The sun is high, the humidity is present, and I am writing this the day after I consumed an entire pitcher of instant iced tea. My point? Summer is upon us, and hydration is crucial. And while I’m sure you have many opinions on the array of alcoholic beverages, I have more on their 0% counterparts. So many, in fact, that just in time for a non-consequential weekend in July, I’ve chosen to rank them. Not just to start controversy, but to remind you all that I am right about everything, but especially this.

Cheers, you ghouls. (I love you.)

Non-alcoholic beer
Listen. Okay. Wow. Alright. Do you like beer? Do you enjoy its taste and its texture and richness? (Is beer supposed to be rich?) Terrific. Then sip away, smiling at your choices and the one that led you opt for Budweiser Prohibition over Heineken’s tiny cans. From my experience, non-alcoholic beer is a wonderful alternative to whatever you want to drink when you are desperate for alcohol but – for whatever reason – you have consciously uncoupled and you don’t get to have it anymore.

Otherwise, it is beer that isn’t beer, and if it gets warm over the course of the day another choice may be to drink soapy water from your sink. This is your call.

“Water beverages”
What in the world. Why?! Whomst?! I dedicate this mention to the moments I’ve picked up something that looks like water but then isn’t water, which I learn when I read the ingredients of my beverage and prepare myself for feeling dehydrated and ill, because 14 types of sugar are making my water-drink taste like peach. I am an adult. I live my own life. And if I want to drink 14 types of sugar, I will set out to drink those 14 types with intention, usually using a powdered drink mix to make my tap water taste better. Get out of here with your bullshit claims.

Sparking water and juice
I have learned in my long 33 years that if you consume inordinate amounts of juice over the course of the day if you’re thirsty from too much sunlight, you will spend a freakish amount of time in the bathroom, praying for you soul and your body. The good news? These drinks are also delicious. Bless us everyone.

Sports drinks
In sixth grade, I went with my class for track and field day (enter: my many questions) and spent most of the day playing Pogs and chugging more Gatorade than any human should over the course of their lifetimes. Since, I reserve it for episodes of heat stroke and violent stomach flus. If you are an athlete, your experiences may be different. But even then, likely not. The saving grace: it’s still delicious, goddamn it. Sixth grade me laughs at my adult cynicism.

Fruit drinks
For the record, these will make you sicker than juice if they’re your only source of hydration. But do I care? Do I care, as I’m pouring Hawaiian Punch-flavoured whatever into my plastic cup, reveling in the memories of my youth? Do I care, as I mix Kool-Aid with the previously-mentioned tap water and accept that I might feel shockingly ill within a few hours? I do not. I do not care. As my father reminded me this weekend, “You were raised in the eighties and nineties – your body is used to chemicals.”

Any powder-based cold beverage, actually
The only downside are the crystals that stay at the bottom, but is that even a downside if you just scoop them out with a spoon and eat them as a well-deserved snack? (No.)

Iced coffee
As a personal note, I do not drink coffee to be refreshed. But when I have, they’ve been in lactose-free milkshake form and I have no regrets about that to this day. Though more accurately, I’m ranking this higher than I normally would because I know a lot of you are freaks for this shit and I don’t want to be confronted by a slew of caffeinated enthusiasts outside of my house or at any location.

Virgin cocktails and/or mocktails
Bless the alternative to everything the rest of the world is drinking. Give me my virgin mojito. Let me feel fancy. Let me pretend I’m participating in something for once in my goddamn life. Can you chug them? No, but calm down, you’re at a restaurant. For once, we get to sip something slowly that isn’t piping hot tea. Which is especially useful if you’re spilling some already, if I’m being honest. (I just high-fived myself here.)

Ginger ale/pop of any sort
Truly like ordering fries at any fast food establishment: completely and totally un-fuck-up-able. (Though again, please, I beg you, space each can or bottle with a sip of water for the sake of your digestion experiences.) (And under any circumstances, do not order a Coke slushie at the Rogers Centre when the roof is open on the hottest day ever for the longest possible baseball game. You will, and I cannot stress this enough, begin to wonder if this is the afternoon you shit your pants.)

Iced tea
Do I regret making a full pitcher of iced tea I intended to drink on my own? I do not. Am I thinking about making another pitcher, just for today? You know I am. Iced tea is the most underrated cold, delicious beverage(not even “non-alcoholic beverage” – I’m talking compared to your favourite wine, so deal with that) that exists on this planet, and I would rank it as number one if it wasn’t entirely irresponsible to suggest you don’t drink water. So speaking of which…

Sparkling water
Truly, thank you. Thank you, anyone who suggested adding carbonation to the otherwise most boring beverage in the land. Thank you to those who dared to ask, “You know what’s somehow the least thirst-quenching drink ever despite our bodies being made of it?” and to those who answered that question by adding bubbles. Now, we get to hydrate andfeel like we’re enjoying something that doesn’t feel like licking a warm cube of ice (figure that out). We get flavours without sugar. We get a treat without melting down Popsicles and drinking them from a bowl. We get the false sense of “I’m being healthy” while eating chips and onion dip for dinner. Or, if you’re me, knowing you’re going to chase that serving of water with another glass of cold, refreshing, delicious, highly-sweetened ice tea.

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