Gray Whale gin could be the hardest working spirit in the business. As gins become more and more interesting to me I’ve begun to seek out the less straight forward botanical mixes. Thankfully the UK is having a craft gin explosion and on a recent trip to California, I discovered the US isn’t far behind. Gray Whale gin chose its flavors based on the migratory path of the gray whale. Aside from being so #verycalifornian the foraged ingredients made for a unique taste and that, after all, is what I am after. With foraged botanicals running from Baja all the way up to Mendocino, the effort for that flavor may be unmatched by any other craft distiller. The outrageously mesmerizing aquamarine bottle that has an enticing depth illusion adds to our allure while their simplistic, contemporary, labeling design sold us. We’re suckers for a well-branded spirit.
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The wall of colorful boxes with the quirky logo and bad grammer copy drew us in moments after stepping foot on the Renegade Craft Fair floor. Christopher Coccagna, founder of T-WE TEA, holds the company title of “Director of Truth & Beauty” as well as “Expert in Fabulous” We didn’t want to take his word for it so we cupped. Then we cupped some more. After our third cupping (a tea tasting BTW) we saw past the intoxicating packaging and tasted the hand picked ingredients. We felt the hand mixed batches. We even saw the regions from which the brew was harvested. To add to all that, every tea is 100% organic, fair trade, and kosher sourced. That doesn’t make it easy to source but it does make it tasty.
Yeah, we know, you’ve started your detox. You feel horrible about 2020. You’ve finally admitted to your roomate, or spouse, that your pandemic excuse to imbibe undermined all your positive behavioral aspirations leaving you with bar bottles as low as your self-esteem. First off, buck up. You just made it through one of the the hardest years of your life. Coping mechanisms were expected, that is why they are called that. Now that you’ve coped you are ready for a new, vaccinated year of mindfulness and positive manifestation. Good for you but don’t go too far down the rabbit hole only to hiccup in late January and blow the whole thing. My dad used to say everything in moderation and in most cases that works well. I co-opted that idea making it my own, “drink like an Italian”. Which is to say, cold turkey isn’t your only way to mental and physical bliss. For now, we’ll play along. We’ve corralled our top 5 non-alcoholic (or almost alcohol free) substitutes to aid in your epic January crusade to stay off the hooch.
2. Kin we’ve not officially tried yet but their commitment to wellness is so deep that we couldn’t even find the “we are a non-alcoholic” description on their website without serious digging. Talk about manifestation. I guess they think their energy communicates their value prop. Ohh sooo modern millennial of them.
3. Monday Gin is our newest fav because we’ve been know to overstock gin like we were headed to an ark during a flood. The art deco labelling lets us feel quite Gatsby while we sip everything from G+T’s to negronis.
4. Haus was started by an old photographer friend of mine and is this lists only low-alcohol choice. Back to that moderation, a full ABV removal isn’t always necessary and this trio of flavors champions the apertif. Again, Drink like an Italian. With flavors like Spiced Cherry, Citrus Flower and Lemon Lavender, you’re bound to find a refreshing pre-dinner sip that gives you enough of what you crave without too much of what you are trying so hard to avoid.
5. Lyre is last on the list and newest to us. They have the most complete range of alternative spirits on our list. Cleverly they used known alcoholic vocabulary to bundle their products and direct us to what we’d like best. Things like the negroni set or the boulevardier set are trifectors substituting each of those critical ingredients to produce a non-alcoholic version of your 2020, mid-week, home, happy-hour ritual. The line up includes a Dry London Spirit, an American Malt, a White Cane Spirit , a Dark Cane Spirit, a Spiced Cane Spirit, a Dry and Rosso Aperitif, a Coffee Liqueur, an Amaretti, an Italian Orange, and finally an Orange Sec. Not surprising, their dry Jan twelve pack is sold out. Regardless if you are an abstainer or a moderator this January, start with the above list for a leg up in your new endeavors.
Our favorite place to start is linked below. That should get you on your way to turning that bad bar into a good czar of mindfulness. Happy sipping.
Pepsi gets into the craft cola game…AGAIN. It’s hard to imagine the #41 company on the fortune 500 list started as “Brad’s Drink” in a North Carolina pharmacy. Pepsi 1893 is a throwback, although the trending craft culture of our modern, urban, artisanal landscape might have you believing otherwise. Here’s a quick history lesson. Caleb Davis Bradham mixes sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg and some fizzy water over ice. People fall in love. He sells 20,000 gallons of syrup. The US goes to war. Sugar is rationed. Post war sugar prices skyrocket. Bradham has no choice but to buy the high priced sugar to keep Pepsi-Cola alive. In 1923 Pepsi-Cola goes bankrupt. Scratching your chin? Fascinating, I know. That 17th century startup eventually became a success (as you know) so, think of this reissue as a return to Pepsi’s roots, a testament to perseverance, a set of simplistic natural flavors and a small (pharmacy) batch refreshment. There’s a ginger flavor too.
They had us at Murder Your Thirst. At first look Liquid Death Mountain Water seems like Johnny Rotten and Gwyneth Paltrow had an illegitimate tall boy. That still might be largely true but on second glance this is an anarchist’s letter to the perfectly pinkified, millennial, wellness, team member walking through Nomad sipping a CBD infused, Cha Cha Macha in their Sweaty Betty bottoms and color matched Lulu top post Pure Barre class on their way to a M N D F L session. We’re not hating, just maybe a little overtired of the strict, gentrified urban experience that’s all too polished around our office these days. People still work in factories. They still triple shift to feed their kids. They still fall off the wagon, smoke two packs of reds and show up for their 8am shift with their brain beating out of their skull. That is not to say that there’s not a middle ground to those two humans. It is to say, everyone needs to hydrate. That’s where Liquid Death Mountain Water levels the playing field with a beverage design that is as sensational as the people behind it. Every part of the experience has been carefully and perfectly thought through. You want to join the mailing list, no problem, just sign a contract to sell your soul. Not kidding. You want to know “About” why they created it? A word perfect description and philosophy explains everything including their intention to take their healthy water brand and help fund weird art, music, and entertainment that big corporate brands rarely will. They even made a righteous animated explainer video and then this fantastic PSA. As if all that was not enough for you to get on board the death hydration train and order up a case immediately, they even tweaked the “email sign up” toggle button in checkout to read; “I’d like to stay in the loop on news and special offers, just don’t bombard me with stupid bullsh*t”. There’s not much more for us to outline here except to hit their home page and click their FUCK YES buy button. Aces to the Liquid Death crew for this masterpiece.