The Best and Worst Drinks for Singers
My list of the top four drinks that are good for your voice, and the four drinks you should avoid at all costs!
Ever wondered what to eat or drink before singing? Or what the best drink is to make sure you sound amazing when you’re heading on stage? Today I have my updated list of the best and worst drinks for singers.
This list is an accumulation of what I have found has worked for me over my 12+ years of singing professionally (Hold up… has it really been 12+ years!!!) I’ll answer some of the most common questions I hear on this topic as well as what I use personally when I sing.
Before we jump in, I will say that there are no miracle foods or drinks that will instantly improve your voice, but there are a few tricks that will help you sing well even if you have a sore throat. This is by no means a definitive list as everyone reacts to things differently, but I hope this helps you and the rule of thumb is; go with what feels best for you.
Drinks that are good for your voice.
Hands down the #1 drink for singers. Boring, yep. Effective, you bet cha! I mean, apart from being free and containing 0 calories, water is the best way to stay hydrated during your singing and it can make a big difference to the sound of your voice.
As part of my preparation to sing, I always (ALWAYS) drink one of two glasses of water. Most people don’t drink enough water daily so chances are you’re dehydrated to begin with and your voice will sound better after a good ol’ cup of H2O.
If I’m recording, I will drink water in between every take. Its that important. I also keep water on stage with me to sip during the gig and if I’m doing my practice and my voice is feeling a bit… well… dry and crap, a glass of water usually does the trick.
Seriously, try it out. Next time you’re practicing. Start singing without drinking water and see how your voice feels. Then after about 5 minutes, drink a glass and start singing again and feel the difference.
2. Herbal Teas
The next best drinks for singers fall into the ‘tea category’. There are different teas to help you with different ailments. Here are my recommendations:
Peppermint tea is excellent for reducing bloating and phlegm. You don’t want to be bloated when you sing because it can make it uncomfortable to breathe from your diaphragm. You also feel really large and uncomfortable on stage which isn’t great when you’re trying to look amazing in a new slinky outfit.
Go for the proper leaf stuff that you have to steep in a pot. Quality tea makes a big difference.
TIP: Picking fresh leaves from a peppermint plant and steeping them in hot water works just as well as dried out tea leaves.
Licorice root tea
Licorice Root tea is brilliant for dealing with a sore throat and is natural home remedy singers have been using for years. Like Peppermint tea, Licorice Root tea aids digestion and it somewhat numbs the back of your throat just a little which is fabulous for singers who are performing night after night.
If you don’t like the taste of Licorice, never fear because Licorice Root tea has a much nicer flavor than aniseed and is milder too. I personally like licorice so this drink is a tasty treat to have on stage with me. I use a handy spill-free thermal mug that travels from my kitchen, to car, to stage. 🙂
Licorice Root Tea is widely available at health food stores. I even found some down at my local supermarket in the healthy section.
- TEA BAG: Traditional Medicinals Organic Herbal Tea, Licorice Root, 16-Count
- LOOSE LEAF: Davidson’s Tea Bulk Bag, Organic Tulsi Licorice Root, 16 Ounce
If you have a scratchy throat or you feel a cold coming on (so its not sore YET, but you can feel something coming), then reach for ginger tea. It has a warming effect and contains antimicrobial properties (i.e. it’s antibacterial and antiviral) which is why it can help with fighting off a cold.
Ginger has been used as a medicinal remedy for mild sickness for years and the reason is because it boosts immunity and fights inflammation. You can either just drink a warm tea made from fresh ginger root or you can even chew on a little bit of the root if you can stand how pungent it is straight from the source.
Most people prefer ginger lozenges but you’d need to get the ones without sugar otherwise the sugar (which is a breeding ground for bacteria) counteracts the benefits. For an extra special super immune fighting boost, try making a tea with fresh peppermint leaves, fresh ginger and a splash of Jarrah Honey.
A lot of alcoholic drinks are a big no-no when it comes to singing because they can cause phlegm if you’re mixing your drink with soda however, straight up spirits can be an exception.
For years I used Port as a remedy for keeping my inflammed, sore throat in check. When I had undiagnosed Rheumatoid Arthritis I was getting some whopping sore throats and I had no idea why. I used it to get me through several tours and it soothed me to feel the warmth running down the back of my throat and easing the soreness.
It literally worked magic for me. I know it is a fortified wine though (wine is actually on my bad drinks list) but I think it helped because I can’t stand stronger drinks like Whiskey (which many singers swear by) but it was strong enough to produce the same warming effect.
Galway Pipe is a common brand that is decent enough quality but wont cost you the earth. Just make sure you sip it and don’t shot the whole thing otherwise you’ll be falling off the stage!
Another spirit I personally like is brandy (old school but its delicious and works) and also Sambucca can help but I found it produced a bit of glug.
More of a natural remedy than a drink, Propolis is a liquid made from bees wax and not only helps relieve a sore throat but is excellent for general health too. and will help revive you when you need to sing with a cold.
But be warned, it stinks! It smells so revolting (to me anyway) that I actually have to hold my nose to drink the stuff. It looks gross too. It forms a little hairy looking ball in the bottom of your glass when you drop it into water before you mix it around.
The taste is fine; it’s pretty tasteless actually, so if you can put up with the stench, Propolis works wonders.
TIP: Gargle with Propolis mixed in with water for a bit before you drink the rest of the glass down. You can grab a bottle for around $30 from your local health food store.
Here a few good ones I’ve found:
NaturaNectar Natural Red Bee Propolis (liquid you add to water)
The worst drinks for singers include:
If you want to be coughing up phlegm into the microphone all night, milk is your go-to. Milk really is the #1 cause for phlegm build up in singers and phlegm is every singer’s worst enemy.
It sticks to the back of your throat and nasal cavity requiring you to clear your throat when you are singing. Sometimes phlegm can cause your voice to sound as if it is cracking; which is actually your air breaking through the phlegm at the back of your throat.
Singers with a tendency to sound nasal also steer clear of all milky drinks because it can exacerbate the problem. Milk and singing just don’t mix.
2. Beer, Wine & Softdrink (soda)
It is common practice to be given a bar tab when you are performing but steer clear of wine and beer as both can affect your singing in different ways.
Wine is generally packed with preservatives which dry out your throat. Many expensive wines still contain these preservatives however you can get some preservative-free brands if you’re a huge wine fan. However, if you don’t mind missing out on your vino, why not use that bar tab to try some quality rum or brandy instead.
Beer (or anything carbonated for that matter) causes bloating and gas, and trust me when I tell you, you don’t want either when you’re up on stage singing into a mic. When you sing, you need to keep your stomach muscles relaxed so you can use your diaphragm to breathe. If you are bloated, you feel tight around this area and your breathing will suffer.
Plus, let’s face it; beer and softdrink both make you burp. Not a good look when you’re on stage with a microphone near your mouth…
3. Green Tea
I personally find that green tea has a drying effect on the throat and reduces the lubrication around your vocal folds making you more susceptible to developing a sore throat.
I’ve also found that cheaper brands are far worse than really good quality brands. But fear not my tea-loving friend, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your hit of anti-aging antioxidants everyday. In fact, I drink a large cup of green tea daily for breakfast, I just make sure I reach for a different type of drink when I’m singing.
4. Fruit Juice
Fruit juice may sound healthy, but the high sugar content makes it a super glug maker in a bottle. Yeah, I’ve been there too. Thinking I was being all healthy and going for the fruit juice option… but alas. You will be clearing the back of your throat for the rest of the night dealing with the gluggy after effects of this seemingly innocent drink.
While we’re on the topic of fruit juice, I often get asked ‘is lemon good for your voice?’ The answer is… it depends. Some singers swear by a little bit of lemon in warm water before a gig. Lemon is alkalising and can even out your body’s pH levels, however I personally find it drying on my throat so its another one I avoid.
I have drunk ginger and lemon teas which have been beneficial however, but that’s from a tea bag and not fresh lemon squeezed into water.
What to Eat and Drink Before Singing – Commonly Asked Questions
Q: What to drink to have a good voice?
A: Read my blog post above! Lol. Ultimately water is your go-to but no drink is ever going to replace good old fashioned practice.
Q: About milk being bad for your voice, does that include almond and coconut milk?
A: Nope. Those are plant based and completely different substances. 🙂
Q: Does the tea have to be hot to work?
A: No, its the herbs that help. However warm water helps soothe your throat so I’d keep it at least a little bit warm.
Q: What about coffee?
A: Ok… some singers say no to coffee due to the caffine. I personally love the stuff and don’t find it affects my singing. However, I don’t drink milk with it and drink decaf at night so….
Q: What should I take if I’m sick and I have to sing?
Did you like this blog?
If you found it helpful or have any other drinks or natural remedies that work for you that you’d like to share, leave me a comment below!
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