Two months ago I stopped drinking. It wasn’t a big deal and I’m not an alcoholic, so I didn’t suffer any withdrawal or anything like that. However, now that I’m getting back into setting up my altars and performing rituals, I’m stuck with making a choice. I don’t like waste, so whenever I put something out as an offering I usually consume it after I’ve let the gods take what they want. Now that I’m sober I need to make alterations to my offerings so that I don’t waste and they still get what they want.
This information can be useful if you’re underage, have diabetes or digestive issues, are allergic, if someone in your household struggles with addiction, or if you just don’t care for alcohol.
Links and more info at the bottom.
Alcohol is generally split up into 2 categories-
Fermented or Undistilled & Distilled
Fermented alcohols include-
beer, wine, sake, cider, and less common alcohols (in the US, at least,) like chicha, tepache, plum and palm wines, and basi. There are others, this is just a few.
Distilled alcohols include-
gin, vodka, whisky, rum, tequila, brandy, cognac, and others like guaro, horilka, mezcal, baijiu, and arrack.
The key to replacing alcohol is to figure out whether the alcohol is fermented or distilled, and what grain/fruit the alcohol is made from. This will make it easy to find appropriate replacements.
Tea is a very easy way to get the general energy of the alcohol across, especially since fermented teas, like kambucha, are gaining a lot of popularity in the west. When you expand into herbal and grain teas the possibilities really open up.
If the deity you want to work with is typically offered up beer, for example, there’s a Japanese style barley tea called mugicha that can easily replace it. There’s also a Korean rice tea called hyeonmi cha, that can replace sake. Of course, you can always buy prepackaged tea bags for both of these, along with other teas with roasted corn and other special grains. With these specialty ones, though, unless you have a multicultural market near by, it might be cheaper to make it at home.
Herbal teas are also useful, and you can replace things like chartreuse, fernet, sambuca, absinthe, goldschlager, and jagermeister when matched with similar ingredients.
Kambucha is great because it contains a lot of typical traits of pale ales, cider, and white wine, partially because it goes through a fermentation process as well. It’s also easy to make an infused and flavored kambucha, but home made kambucha can contain around 1% alcohol, so be careful if there are health concerns.
Most countries also have a “typical” tea that is served, see if you can replicate a tea used in the cuisine your spirit is from. Do your research about the particular alcohol you want to replace and see if there’s a tea with similar properties/ingredients you can use instead.
This one seems obvious, but it’s easy to overlook because it might feel a little silly at times. If you’re replacing something obvious, like wine, choosing a high-quality grape juice is a good idea, and store-bought is better because juicing grapes is a challenge. If possible, try to find a kosher grape juice (it’s less likely to have sugars and unnecessary additives than western grape juice.) Of course, if your budget only allows for your typical juice then go with what you can afford.
It’s also easy to replace liquors and liqueurs with juices, especially orange juice, which is easy to make at home, and more importantly, cheap. Just use your best judgment, and again, do some research.
Coffee- Now, I couldn’t talk about drink replacement without talking about the glory of coffee. Coffee can be used to replace dark and bitter alcohol, especially dark ales and dark rum. Try infusing coffee with cinnamon, anise, or other pungent flavors to match the coffee to a strong flavored alcohol.
Chocolate- Chocolate based drinks, like cocoa, can also replace alcohol that is meant to be warm and comforting, like brandy. You can also add chocolate to tea/coffee to “thicken” it very slightly, or to add a bit of bitterness or sweetness to the drink. (Be careful when leaving this out as an offering to make sure your pets don’t drink it, the same goes for coffee.) Chocolate drinks can also be used if the region is famous for chocolate drinks, like in many South American cuisines.
Milk- While milk shouldn’t be left out and then consumed, it’s always good to figure out if milk makes a good replacement. In a lot of cultures, milk is a major source of vital nutrients. Try and see if the deity/spirit comes from a land where milk is a staple food, like in the Caribbean. It can also be used in reference to a cream alcohol your spirit might enjoy, like creme liqueurs.
You can also use soy, almond, and coconut milk to replace similar alcohols, like almond milk to replace nut-based alcohol like amaretto and frangelico.
Hopefully this helps some of you, and, as always, do your research and don’t make yourself or your family sick from leaving out toxic drinks.
Here are some links and information.
List of liqueurs
List of alcoholic beverages and their ingredients
Alcohols by origin
Make kambucha at home
Flavoring and bottling kambucha
Herbal teas and their properties
Infusing milk with natural herbs and flavors
How to make barley tea
How to make rice tea