I was downing kombucha at a record pace the other weekend. Feeling the early onset of a cold, I didn’t want to drink, but I felt a little awkward without anything in my hand so I found myself finishing nearly two bottles of the sugary fermented drink. After all, it wouldn’t be until a few days later that I found a much better option.
For those partaking in a Dry January–type challenge, people who choose to stay sober and others who may want to cut back on their alcohol consumption, Kin Euphorics has emerged as a nonalcoholic option that feels just as elevated as a nice cocktail.
“When concepting Kin, we placed a big bet that there was a market of people out there not having their needs met on the sophisticated nonalcoholic front—we personally knew the pain points around going to bars without the desire to drink or be hungover the next day and not wanting to drop $15 on a glorified liquid sugar bomb,” says Kin founder Jen Batchelor. “We made some educated guesses that most of the people who would find this interesting probably, similarly, lived in urban environments where there is steep pressure to perform at peak levels and fewer opportunities to build true community at the bar.”
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Kin is an adaptogenic drink, meaning it contains herbs that work hard to make you feel your best. It won’t get you drunk, but it can make you feel a bit more relaxed in the same way a glass of wine might. Best of all, I discovered that it’s 100 percent sippable, meaning you won’t go through the bottle in one night and you won’t be constantly refilling your glass.
Instead, Kin has a slightly bitter taste, not unlike gin or Aperol, and it’s best served with ice and a wide range of mixers: tonic water, seltzer, lime, and even pomegranate juice lends tasty results. As I sipped a Kin and tonic on a recent night while binging the highly stressful show You on Netflix, I found myself feeling oddly… relaxed.
Kin, though, isn’t the only nonalcoholic option on the market. Three-year-old British brand Seedlip offers three different distilled herbal spirits that are so dynamically and completely flavored that it just wouldn’t feel right to call a drink made with them a “mocktail.”
“I think everyone can relate to being offered a boring lime and soda or feeling totally let down if they get offered a sweet, fruity mocktail,” says Seedlip founder Ben Branson. “We hope that when drinking a Seedlip cocktail, people feel fully part of a social occasion and satisfied with a great-tasting drink in their hand that just happens to contain no alcohol.”
Slightly different in composition than Kin, Seedlip is made primarily from herbal extracts, so it doesn’t contain mood-lifting adaptogens. The British brand’s emphasis, rather, is on the need for diversified nonalcoholic options that can appeal to a growing audience that maybe doesn’t feel like drinking tonight. “We are just scratching the surface of the possibilities in nonalcoholic drinks,” says Branson. “I think we’ll see more products entering the market, a continued rise in lighter, more casual drinking occasions, and an increased focus on pairing these drinks with food.”
So often the desire to have a drink boils down to the desire to have something to hold or sip on while hanging out with friends or even just winding down at home. I enjoy a glass of wine or a gin and tonic, but sometimes I simply have no desire to get drunk or buzzed (or face a hangover). I still like kombucha, but it’s a beverage I’d rather drink in small doses, not guzzle its sugar-filled contents just to have something to do with my hands at a party.
After all, a big push behind the movement for nonalcoholic drinks has been about the social appeal. “We believe that by creating a new revelry experience, one that taps into our bliss network—neural and spiritual—allowing us more opportunities for pleasurable exchanges, creativity, kindness, and long-lasting memories, that we can change the way we relate to one another,” says Batchelor. “If Kin aims to cure anything, it’s this epidemic of disconnectedness.”
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Still, though, there’s something deeply pleasurable in enjoying a simple treat while watching TV with just one other person. When I made drinks with Kin, I pulled out a pair of nice glasses and took the time to shake up my nonalcoholic concoction. I garnished with lime and sipped my drink over the course of an hour. It felt good to enjoy something that made me feel just a little more relaxed and felt even more special than my usual glass of red. And when I woke up the next morning feeling clear-headed and calm, it felt even better.