It is the end of January so congratulations if you made this far and still have not had an alcoholic drink! As always, non-alcoholic drinks, mocktails and aperitif’s rose in popularity over the last month.
When people went out for work drinks or to their friends houses, they had to find an alternative to their usual drink this month and different mocktail brand startups continue to rise up and produce new and innovative flavours.
Alcohol Change UK, which was one of the pioneering organisations in the Dry January campaign has reported that there are more than 6.5 million UK residents involved with the campaign every year.
However, there is an understanding that once a lot of people go back to drinking alcohol in February that the popularity of these drinks will dwindle and these startups will have to wait another 11 months before their sales rise once again.
Despite this happening to many companies, there are two startups that are here to stay for the whole year. Three Spirit and Ghia are non-alcoholic drink and aperitif brands that produce high-quality alternatives to alcohol.
I had the opportunity to try them both and this is how it went.
Ghia, founded in July 2020, was created with the family memories in Mediterranean of the founder and CEO Melanie Mesarin (pictured below); fuelled by homemade limoncello as inspiration.
The Mediterranean inspiration is clear with a bright and bitter taste with hints of citrus & florals. The no-spirit aperitif goes perfectly with some ice and a fizzy mixer such as sparkling water or ginger beer.
The company saw a 40% increase in customers in Dry January in 2021 and has sustained a 35% customer return rate since.
Melanie added herself that “I wanted to create something that changed the way we think about drinking and socializing. A beverage that brings people together, but can also be made your own, Ghia is meant to bring intention to every sip and support the creation of your own memories— whether that’s mixing up a cocktail to your favorite music, having a deeper conversation, or dancing into the night.”
Ghia certainly appeals to a new generation of millennials who are actively attempting to cut their consumption of alcohol in this day and age.
I tried both their original aperitif and their newer mocktails in a can (pictured below); the original aperitif is stacked full of natural flavours that help to soothe and stimulate you. It can be drunk however you like, on the ice, topped with sparkling water or straight from the bottle. I think it tastes best mixed with a little lemonade or sparkling water.
In the actual drink is: Lemon Balm (a calming herb that quiets the nerves and soothes), Gentian Root (a bitter power plant that preps the palate also found in Aperol and Campari), Elderflower, Orange Peel, Ginger, Riesling Grapes, Fig, Rosemary, and Yuzu—all combined without any added sugars.
You can tell the amount of work put into perfecting this bottle with Ghia stating there have been 37 iterations before landing on this perfect formula.
An important part of Ghia’s product is their ethical sourcing and sustainability; The label itself is inspired by shapes found in hospitality signage and stacked into a single totem pole, a nod to Italian post-modern design.
Ghia’s packaging uses biodegradable and recyclable materials including shippers that are made from 70% recycled content and water-based biodegradable inks. The glass bottles can also be recycled or upcycled for water, or used for a flower vase.
All of Ghia’s ingredients are sourced mindfully and as close to their elemental form as possible, most with geographic origins in the Mediterranean.
In September of 2021, after the success of the original bottle, Ghia launched their 80z canned version of their drink. single-serve, ready-to-drink cans feature the original Ghia formula with fresh ginger juice, responsibly sourced wildflower honey, a hint of black pepper, and a splash of sparkling water. Ghia have also recently launched another ready-to-drink can version this time called Ghia Soda.
The Ghia in a can certainly packs a punch and on the cans, founder Melanie said:
“So many of our customers enjoy mixing our Aperitif with ginger beer and we were up for the challenge of creating a cleaner yet nuanced version of our own with only the best ingredients, the refreshing bubbles give us a distinct feeling that prompts summer reminiscing and the warm flavor profile is a perfect ease into cooler days. We can’t wait for Ghia Ginger to accompany fall style, walks, picnics, and dinner parties.”
Again Ghia’s cans are 100% recyclable – with zero plastic and labels that burn off in the recycling process. Ghia’s packaging uses biodegradable and recyclable materials including shippers that are made from 70% recycled content and water-based biodegradable inks.
Ghia is new to the market but growing rapidly and will continue to grow throughout 2022 as many people attempt to stop consuming as much alcohol as they may have done during the pandemic.
Ghia’s great taste and their sustainable outlook means that both in the can and the bottle, Ghia will continue to be popular with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinkers all year round.
The other non-alcoholic drink that I was able to try was the starter pack from Three Spirit. This pack included their Nightcap, Livener and Social Elixir drinks.
Blended by bartenders and plant scientists, Three Spirit uses botanical alchemy to create their range of drinks for every occasion. Their processes are complex, delicate and take time – maceration, fermentation, distillation, reverse osmosis, freeze-drying, ultrasonic extraction are all parts of creating Three Spirit.
The interesting part of Three Spirit is that their drinks are designed to elicit similar feelings to what alcoholic drinks might do to your body. The Nightcap drink for example is a naturally soothing botanical drink that is might to help you unwind at the end of the night and sleep peacefully.
Best served with about 50ml of it over some ice and a fruit slice, all of these drinks can help you get into the mood for the night whatever your plans are, without the need for alcohol!
Three Spirit was co-founded in London in 2018 by Dash Lilley, Meeta Gournay and Tatiana Mercer and the range of drinks was created in partnership with a blend of plant scientists, world-class bartenders, hedonists, herbalists and artists; this group included Professor Michael Heinrich (Head of Deparment at UCL’s School of Pharmacy) and Dr Shell Surendran, a nutrigenetics expert at Surrey University.
A healthier alternative to alcohol which elicit similar feelings plays perfectly into the market looking to drink less alcohol and more aware of the dangers of alcohol abuse. The slogan of “Choose your mood” is adopted by Three Spirit as they look to have the perfect recipe for every social occasion.
Hangover free with activa plants, adaptogens and nootropics, Three Spirit is a serious alternative to alcohol and spirits.
The Livener (or the Party Starter), which is the pink bottle is the perfect party pick-me-up. Designed to be energising, exotic and fiery, this drink is powered by guatusa, schisandra and energising plants. It genuinely does lift your mood and brings a lively euphoric feeling after drinking. Bitter notes of ginseng and floral green herbs combine for a lingering dry finish of rich tannins, hibiscus and an exotic heat.
The Social Elixir (or the Mood Booster) , the green bottle, is the “ultimate social companion and mood elevator”. This drink seriously packs a punch and after a few servings you will be the life and soul of the party. Bright, dry spices on the nose lead to rich, complex dark apple and cacao notes.
Created with lion’s mane mushroom, yerba mate and mood-boosting plants, the Social Elixir is bittersweet and perfect for keeping up with friends who are having alcoholic spirits.
Lastly there is the Nightcap (or the Dream Maker) drink, which as you may have guessed is the one for the end of the night to help you unwind and relax. Unlike the others, this drink has a more soothing and smooth taste as it includes tree saps, aromatic plants and bright spices.
Lemon balm, valerian and hops come together to create a dreamy and relaxed feeling. Mellow aromatics, black pepper and valerian tease the nose, giving way to smooth maple, rich vanilla and hazelnut.
Just like Ghia, Three Spirit is dedicated to ethically sourcing their products and creating a sustainable and ecologically friendly business. They use high-quality plants from only reputable producers, product in the UK. Their packaging is recyclable and there is no bubble wrap, nothing artificial + 99% plastic free.
Their drinks are 100% vegan and cruelty free and these elements are part of the reason that Three Spirit is truly not just a dry January drink.
For those that are looking to cut down on their alcohol consumption but still looking for the same feelings that alcohol can bring, Three Spirit is the perfect alcoholic alternative as it truly works to bring you the feelings that their drinks describe.
Three Spirit is another example of a drink that although may have become more popular during Dry January is truly here to stay for the rest of the year and beyond.
Ghia and Three Spirit are two non-alcoholic drink startups are examples of companies that are doing all of the right things to capitalise on the movement towards less alcohol consumption from millenials.
These drinks taste great, make you feel great and will continue to become more and more popular throughout this year.