Can You Drink Non Alcoholic Gin Or Spirits On Antibiotics? Myth busting.

There is many people starting their journey into non alcoholic spirits, and rightly so. I have reviewed many and they are delicious, a fraction of the calorie and no alcohol!

However, like any new product, there are always questions to be asked and understood. One of the main ones i have came across is… “Can you drink non alcohol gin or spirits on antibiotics?”

Can you drink non alcoholic gin or spirits on antibiotics?

All of the non alcoholic spirits are interchangeable in this article, so i will continue to use gin as an example but the exact same will apply to non alcoholic rum, vodka, whiskey, spirits, tequila or any other distilled non alcoholic or alcohol free drink.

In general, you can drink non alcoholic gin with most antibiotics and you can drink alcohol free gin with all antibiotics. There is a relatively small subgroup of antibiotics which you might be more cautious of when considering drinking non alcoholic gin, as these would cause an unpleasant reaction with alcohol.

The actual amount of alcohol in a non alcoholic gin is tiny and i will explain further just how tiny it is in relation to some very common foods and drinks that have the same amount or even more alcohol in them.

Why can you not drink alcohol on some antibiotics?

The common misconception is “you can’t drink any alcohol on antibiotics”. Maybe this is the safest approach to tell patients as it will cover all the ones you cant and perhaps drinking alcohol when you are sick enough for antibiotics might make you feel worse anyway.

What can happen to you if you drink alcohol on an antibiotic, what are the actual side effects and reactions that take place? The strictest safest approach is to avoid alcohol on antibiotics if you do not know what you are taking but actually understanding the risks is not hard. A bit like eating mushrooms when in the forest, you cant come to harm if you just avoid.

The biggest risk that you should be aware of is called, the disulfiram-like reaction. It doesn’t sound like something you want to happen to you so i will explain all.

Disulfiram-like reaction

This reaction is the main nasty to avoid in terms of antibiotics and alcohol.

Disulfiram goes by the trade name Antabuse. It is prescribed to recovering alcoholics who want to quit drinking but need a bit more help. When you combine it with alcohol, it makes you feel very unwell indeed, and you can’t drink any more.

Disulfiram can cause a lot of symptoms from nausea and vomiting to flushing, abdominal pain, headache and general hangover type symptoms. You basically feel terrible and stop drinking any more.

A disulfiram-like drug therefore, is one which mimics disulfiram in terms of what it looks like and how your body reacts to it. When you drink alcohol when on a disulfiram-like drug you can get basically all the symptoms as if you were on disulfiram itself. These are the class of antibiotics to avoid combining with alcohol.

Which antibiotics cause a reaction with alcohol?

Which antibiotics are disulfiram-like and which others should be avoided for a different reason? The list isn’t that big and i have spoken to many doctors and most rarely get prescribed these days.

Metronidazole (Flagyl) 

Disulfiram-like antibiotic. You should definitely avoid alcohol when taking this antibiotic and for 2-3 days after

Tinidazole (Tindamax)

Disulfiram-like antibiotic. You should definitely avoid alcohol when taking this antibiotic and for 2-3 days after

Cefotetan (Cefotan)

Disulfiram-like antibiotic. You should definitely avoid alcohol when taking this antibiotic and for 2-3 days after

Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim (Bactrim)

Disulfiram-like antibiotic. You should definitely avoid alcohol when taking this antibiotic and for 2-3 days after

Linezolid (Zyvox)

Can cause a hypertensive (high blood pressure) crisis. You should avoid beer containing lots of tyramine, like tap beer.

Doxycycline (Acticlate, Doryx, Vibramycin)

If you are a chronic drinker, doxycycline levels might not get up to where you want them. There is the possibility you could need a higher dose if drinking lots of alcohol.

Rifampin (Rifadin)

Rifampin can combine with alcohol to cause liver damage. The recommendation is not to drink any alcohol with rifampin

Iisoniazid (Nydrazid)

Can combine with alcohol to cause liver issues. You should avoid alcohol whilst taking it.


Disulfiram-like antibiotic. You should definitely avoid alcohol when taking this antibiotic and for 2-3 days after

Cycloserine (Seromycin)

Combined with alcohol can cause nasty central nervous system issues from drowsiness to seizure. You should avoid alcohol whilst taking it

Erythromycin ethylsuccinate (E.E.S.)

Alcohol can cause erythromycin to stay in the stomach longer meaning less is absorbed and it is less effective. You should avoid alcohol when taking this medication.

Nifurtimox (Lampit)

Disulfiram-like antibiotic. You should definitely avoid alcohol when taking this antibiotic and for 2-3 days after

Which antibiotics don’t cause a reaction with alcohol?

Apart from the above antibiotics, and anther few which you would only be on if very very sick, you can safely drink moderate amounts of alcohol on the rest.

The would mean nearly all the common antibiotics you would be on for chest, urine, kidney or skin infections don’t interact with moderate amounts of alcohol at all.

This would include the penicillins such as amoxicillin, benzylpenicillin and flucloxacillin as well as other common antibiotics like clarithromycin (pictured below).

Is there a difference between alcohol free gin and non alcoholic gin?

Alcohol free and non alcoholic gins can differ over distilling techniques and marketing but basically, the biggest difference, is the alcohol by volume percentage in the two different types.

Unfortunately the labelling on “non alcoholic gin” can be very different, depending where in the world you are.

“Non alcoholic gin” can be used as a generic or catch all term for all 0.0-0.5% ABV gins. However, it should be specifically applied to wine with an ABV 0.05-0.5%. This is certainly true in USA, UK and Austrialia.

Alcohol free gins therefore, have an ABV of less than 0.05%. In many countries the labelling laws state this must be the case but this is not true in all jurisdictions, the Eu being the biggest example.

EU beers, wines and spirits are imported into the UK and can be labelled “alcohol free” even at 0.5% ABV. Confusing right?

For a full overview of the labelling of non alcoholic and alcohol gin wine, you can read my full article on it here

For the remainder of this article…

Non alcoholic gin is gin with an ABV of 0.05%-0.5%

Alcohol free gin is gin with an ABV of <0.05%

Can you drink alcohol free wine on antibiotics?

By definition, alcohol free gins should have no alcohol (except possibly a tiny trace amount). Any trace amount that they contain isn’t biologically active and is immediately broken down in the body.

This means that you can safely drink alcohol free gins (<0.05% wines), with no risk of a disulfiram-like reaction with any antibiotic. A nice simple rule of thumb to follow.

Can you drink non alcoholic gin on antibiotics?

Non alcoholic gins might be worth a little bit more thought. They can have up to 0.5% alcohol by volume which whilst tiny, is still x10 or more than an alcohol free gin.

I have compared the alcohol in non alcoholic drinks to many common foods in my article here. Fruit juices, such as apple or orange, usually have more alcohol than a non alcoholic wine and even some breads can. If you read my full article i guarantee you will be surprised.

In general, you wouldn’t be worrying about eating breads or drinking fruit juices on antibiotics.

You can certainly drink non alcoholic gin with the large majority of antibiotics, as they cause no reaction with alcohol anyway.

To be super cautious, you might still avoid alcohol free gins with the disulfiram-like antibiotics.

Can you drink non alcoholic gin on metronidazole (flagyl)?

Metronidazole (Flagyl) is probably the main antibitic you will be prescribed which has a strong interaction with alcohol so i it worth just going over it again. 

Non alcoholic gin has the same alcohol content as orange or apple juice, if not less and you would not be worried about drinking that on Flagyl but to be cautious and avoid any possible reaction, i would avoid non alcoholic gin when taking Flagy.

You can drink alcohol free gin with an ABV of 0.0% without risk of reaction.

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