Mocktail Curious: The Sequel
Wherein Seriously Quirky Does Some Product Reviewing
A few months ago, I wrote about the growing Mocktail industry and the expanding sober curious community that surrounds it. My purpose was cutting empty calories to lose weight. I quickly learned that cutting back on alcohol is a trend and people do it for loads of reasons.
And when I say trend, I mean craze. I mean sensation. I mean it’s all the rage.
Have you ever tried to straighten out a recipe after you’ve added too much salt? You keep adding. More sugar, more spice, more noodles? The more you add, the bigger the mess.
That’s what happened here. Every article I read led me to another article, another topic, another trend.
This topic is huge: Mocktails, non-alcoholic bars, clubs and organizations, online publications and communities like Sober Sister, low alcohol products (NoLo – yep, that’s a thing). On and on.
Just the Mocktail topic alone was gigantic.
You know what I’m going to say: The whole thing just made me want a drink. OK, an easy joke.
If I was joking.
It was a mess.
I had to step back, stop collecting data, and just think. As it turns out, I’m pretty good at that.
I came to two clear conclusions.
First of all, Mocktails might just be a lot of window dressing. But who’s to say that’s a bad thing? Life is psychological. We have cocktail glasses, cocktail napkins, garnishes, straws, little umbrellas.
I’ve refused a glass of wine served to me in a Dixie cup. Just no. Don’t want it. Don’t like it.
Whether you want to lose weight, run a marathon, you’ve got a big meeting in the morning, or you’re in recovery* – if Mocktails help then they help.
Use them. Enjoy them.
My second conclusion is my favorite.
Mocktails are generally expensive.
So, you want to replace your drinking, but you don’t know what you’d do with the extra time. And you don’t have money to burn.
My advice: Make your own Mocktails.
Think about it: it solves a lot of problems. Now you’ve got a new hobby. At night you reach for your Mocktail makin’ supplies instead of a drink. And the money’s in the bank.
This isn’t rocket science. You can spend as much or as little time as you like making them. From researching them to blending them to serving them: there’s plenty to enjoy. Your options and recipes are endless.
Spend money on a water infuser or carbonator. They aren’t expensive and now you own it – use it over and over.
Grab some sage and rosemary, cucumber and mint – infuse away!
Make water with bubbles, make it without.
Garnish your drinks, salt your rims, or dip them in sugar.
Store your drinks in adorable mason jars.
I’m telling you this is a great new hobby, but…sometimes life gets busy. And some people don’t like crafts. If you can afford to shop around, get a sampling of your own and start tasting. It’s fun. Expensive, but fun.
When I began this journey, I jumped in feet first. I always do. I went right out and bought a sampling of Mocktails. Below you’ll find reviews on a few that I tried, but the offerings in the marketplace are endless.
I hope reading this helps you get an idea of what the world of Mocktails is like out there. New companies are springing up seemingly every day and there are new products introduced all the time. So, if shopping is your hobby, then I say shop.
On to the reviews.
But first, a couple notes: I’ve called products what the makers have chosen to name them. And if you’ll pardon the pun, terminology seems to be rather fluid in this industry.
I’ve listed the price as of today’s date, the products that each brand offers and the product(s) that I tried.
Most Mocktail brands advertise at least some benefits. There are those that simply claim to be natural and then there are those that claim to be homeopathic and potentially offer added health benefits.
Among the features that I’ve seen listed are vegan, low-calorie, no-calorie, non-GMO, allergen-free, gluten-free, organic, sugar-free and sweetener-free. Check each product for details.
Some products are meant to be enjoyed straight up, some can be mixed, some are pre-mixed. If they can be mixed the brand’s website may have recipes – check those out.
And finally, check the shelf life. Most of these keep for six months to a year, but the carbonated options may be best purchased in single-serve cans unless.
- Products: Liquor Alternatives (Four available)
- Price: $28.99/750 ml (25.4 Fl Oz)
- Lower price available with a subscription
- Product(s) Reviewed: Gin, Whiskey and Tequila
You know the old adage about saving the best for last? I think it’s maybe some of the worst advice ever.
I don’t mean to play favorites, but…oh who am I kidding? Yes, I do.
Ritual is my favorite. Love the product, love the company, love their website.
I opened the gin first. Poured a bit…wowza! The Burn!
The first thing Ritual did was teach me something: Part of the joy of drinking liquors is the peppery, burning sensation. OK, I guess on some level I did know that, but I didn’t realize it.
But this! You can smell it, taste it, feel it. This is no substitute for anything. It’s something all its own. It’s a thing.The friends at Ritual have invented an all-new thang. Y’all it’s a thang.
The flavors are clear and distinct, and you can drink Ritual’s products straight or mixed in your favorite cocktail recipes.
The packaging is, in my opinion, somewhat plain, but that is consistent with their branding.
Just a teensy bit of research revealed the most interesting facts about this crew.
So, get this: I start reading the website and I realize I’m smiling. Then giggling. And I’m thinking, “I’m just enjoying reading this. So clever. These people are quirky.”
A little Google later: One of the owners is a writer. I know!
Marcus Sakey and GG Sakey, along with their friend David Crooch founded Ritual in 2017, but in his spare time Marcus has been writing best sellers, selling screenplays to Hollywood notables and I’m guessing, authoring the cheekiest website in the Mocktail industry.
Click the “Our Story” link on the “About” tab and you’re greeted with the headline: Ritual Began Because We Love To Drink.
Just like their gin, this is refreshing. The Ritual Team skips the serious tone. No flowery language. No sobering tales. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they’ve got their reasons, but Ritual never talks about what they’re trying not to do. They talk about what they Love.
So, you ask does the tone of the website matter?
I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: Part of this Mocktail experience is window dressing. Whatever works for you, well…works. If the glass you use matters. And it does. And the garnish matters. And it does. Then the message, the tone, the branding, the maker matters.
The Ritual tone is lighthearted, but the product is serious. Because they obviously love it.
Ritual’s website says they went through more than 500 recipes to make the final products. But you won’t find any vague, “over your head” language here. There aren’t any mysterious ingredients or processes. According to Marcus Sakey, “We’re not interested in new-age goop that defies explanation, or fancy spa water that bears no resemblance to liquor.”
I could tell you everything about Ritual, but hey, just go check them out.
- Non-Alcoholic Spirits
- Non-Alcoholic Liqueurs including Coffee Liquors, Amaretto, Aperol, Triple Sec and Campari
- Wine and Sparkling Wine, including Prosecco and Vermouth
- Liquor and Liquers $35.99/700 ml (23.7 Fl Oz)
- Wine and Sparkling Wine $84.99/case of 24 250ml cans (app. $3.5/can)
- Product Reviewed: Coffee Originale
There’s every indication that Lyre’s makes super good stuff.
They must, because for the most part, it’s all sold out.
At least the one I should have tried is.
Here’s the thing: When I decided to try Mocktails I ordered a “sampling” of items. Lyre’s was the only one advertising a coffee drink, so that’s what I ordered from them.
I’m going to be honest; I don’t think it’s their best.
It is, however, a great glass of super strong, super sweet…wait for it…coffee. I mean, gosh, they say on the bottle that it’s special, but guys it tastes like coffee.
But they’ve won so many awards?
I owe you another go. I’m gonna’ order some gin.
Sincerely, S. Quirky
Lyre’s is an Australian company, so some of the lingo on the website is a smidge unfamiliar to me, but generally I get it. They have an image of a tiger dressed in WWII flyer’s gear, standing by his plane on one page. The feel of it is playful, casual, upbeat.
But they also have a “Pride” tab dedicated to their support of a non-profit, True Colors United, which provides funding to fight homelessness in the LGBTQ youth community. OK, so good corporate citizens – check.
Bottom line: I think I like them. If you’re going to buy Mocktails, I like them.
They offer a huge line of products and they’ve won silver medals, gold medals, hell, maybe a best in show – I’m not sure on that.
But I haven’t given them the ole’ apples to apples, oranges to oranges test. I’ve tried Ritual’s gin. I need to compare it to Lyre’s gin.
I’ve maintained from the beginning that all of this Mocktailing (yeah, that’s a new word now) is maybe a lot of window dressing. And if that’s the case, Lyre’s dresses up great. The packaging, the artwork, the language on the product and website, the vibe – it’s great. The label has a metallic copper raised image of that same flying tiger from their website.
The Lyre’s Coffee Originale bottle says, “It may be hard for an egg to become a bird, but it would be harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.” There’s no attribution.
You have to love that.
I’m glad I bought it just for that quote. Because that is seriously quirky.
I’ll be back Lyre’s.
- Products: Five Pre-mixed Cocktails
- $13.95/750 ml (25.4 Fl Oz)
- $62.95/16 Pack of 12-oz Single Serve Slim Cans
- Subscribe and save options
- Product(s) Reviewed: Cucumber Melon Mojito
Here’s the “low hanging fruit” on this one – the price is so reasonable.
Try these. If you think you’d like to try a pre-mixed Mocktail. Try these, because why not?
Even if these drinks turn out not to be refreshing, the price is.
There’s a marketing theory out there that says people like to pay more, because it makes them feel like they really got something. It doesn’t work for me. I like a reasonably price, good product.
So, I’m starting off on the right foot with Mingle, before I even start researching and sampling.
The homepage for Mingle’s website has a terrific summery photo of four adorable women in their fab swimsuits on a boat in the ocean. They are laughing. They are smiling. They are healthy, very attractive and yes, thin. And it says, “The Zero-Proof Choice for Independent Spirits.”
Very cute – I like it.
And then I click the “About” tab and see the founder and owner is a female. This makes me happy – always a bonus to support another woman. The founder is Laura, and she says she’s a wife, mother, athlete, businesswoman, and she says she’s social in her community.
Then she says she had started drinking too much.
Yikes. I’m sorry, Laura.
I read on.
Laura says, “I am human like everyone else. I feel fear every day that I may fail in delivering a great product that inspires a healthy lifestyle. I may have created Mingle with zero experience in the beverage industry, but I’m an expert in knowing how it feels to be left out of the occasion.”
Gosh, I’m starting to rethink my position on the cheeky, irreverent Mocktail makers. Maybe they’re putting too much Mock in their Mocktails.
I read on. And on.
Good gracious, this is long. But she’s so sincere.
I finished reading Laura’s story and turned to the bottle.
No, I’m just picking, Laura.
I turned to a delicious Mingle Mocktail!
And you know what? It was good.
It was really good.
Mingle Mocktails are carbonated, sweet, but not full of calories. The flavors come through and are “reminiscent” of mojitos, cosmos, mules and Bellinis, but not direct imitations. This is particularly helpful for those Mocktail partakers who are in recover. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s an argument out there that an imitation drink may not be the way to go for those in recovery.
Mingle comes in five flavors: Blood Orange Elderflower Mimosa, Cranberry Cosmo, Cucumber Melon Mojito, Blackberry Hibiscus Bellini and Moscow Mule. In addition, they come in 750 ml bottles or in cute 12-ounce slim cans. Mingle can also be mixed with your favorite spirit for a refreshing alcoholic cocktail.
Mingle Mocktails are great. And as it turns out, so is founder Laura’s sincerity. Being open about her journey builds a bridge. Especially because her journey led her to a delicious, flavorful, concocted Mocktail. And a happy, productive life without alcohol.
I’ve made a little good-natured (I hope) fun of Mingle’s founder. But all joking aside, this is a good one. The packaging is great, the price is fair, and the message is uplifting – a little serious, but uplifting.
Cheers, Laura! I will Mock you no more!
- Products: Three Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirits
- Price: $45/700 ml (23.7 Fl Oz.)
- Product(s) Reviewed: Grove 42 Citrus
I bought a bottle.
No, I mean I bought it for the bottle.
I wouldn’t have cared if it was empty.
This whole thing may have started because of those bottles.
And I should add here that I don’t regret it. I’ve enjoyed the bottle and kept it out where I could see it for a long time.
One night after I’d Google for solutions and options to cut back on drinking, these gorgeous bottles started following me around the internet. Everywhere I went these little jewels showed up.
I’m a sucker for artwork, packaging, and graphic design. But anybody would love these.
The artwork on my bottle of Grove 42 Citrus features the head of a rabbit fashioned out of ginger emerging from a smooth curve of orange peel. Shoots of green and cooper grass spring from behind. There are overlays of a thin slice of blood red orange and tendrils of rind that twine around a miniature full orange with the stem and leaves still attached.
I’m not making this up.
The website is equally as impressive.
The graphics are beautiful. The photography is beautiful. And the first line of the first paragraph under the “Our Story” tab begins, “Over three hundred years ago…”
This is serious stuff.
Everything about Seedlip is serious.
The tagline at the top of the “Our Story” page: Seedlip is on a mission to change the way the world drinks with the highest quality non-alcoholic options.
Am I even good enough for Seedlip? Maybe they won’t even let me have any. Gosh.
I looked at my budget and decided to spring for the $45 fee to try the Holy Grail of Mocktails.
When my bottle came, I was impressed. I was almost afraid to open it and I was meticulous about selecting a glass and measuring a pour. I followed one of the simple recipes listed on Seedlip’s website. It said to add four ounces of “Indian” tonic to 1 ½ ounces of Grove 42. Well, I don’t even know what “Indian” tonic is, so I just grabbed some tonic.
Did I get any in there? I checked to see if my glass was cracked.
OK, I’ll just try Seedlip straight up. Hell’s yes. I’m doing it.
There’s this great salon that I go to sometimes and they have this big tank of water up front. Sometimes it has cucumbers in it, sometimes lemons, sometimes oranges, strawberries. I gotta call them and let them know they could be charging $45 a glass.
Don’t get me wrong – there was nothing bad about Seedlip. It was perfectly good…water.
It’s infused with some stuff that is described with great reverence on their website, but make no mistake, it’s water.
It does taste natural and has no sugar. It is simply water. It is zero calorie.
And I’m not the only one who feels this way. A quick review of some of the comments on Facebook is very revealing and if I may say so, very entertaining. And in 2020 Claire Lower published an article on Lifehacker called “Sober People Deserve Better than Seedlip,” wherein she said, “Seedlip is, unfortunately, the La Croix of spirits, as in it literally tastes like a flat can of flavored seltzer.”
Ouch, but I gotta say, I can’t disagree.
Maybe it wouldn’t all seem so silly if it wasn’t for that price.
That ridiculous price.
You can’t help but feel someone’s trying to take advantage.
And for me personally, the serious tone. Don’t take yourself so seriously Seedlip.
But if Mocktails are all about window dressing, oh, that beautiful bottle.
- Products: Four (4) Booze-free Craft Cocktails, with a new one out in limited release.
- Price: $35.00/4 12-oz bottles
- Product(s) Reviewed: Curious Elixirs 1 – 4
So far, the most curious thing about Curious Elixirs for me is their phone number.
They don’t have one.
Google me this, riddle me that, I never found it. And I’m really good.
I got off on the wrong foot with these folks. I had a problem with my order, sent an email and didn’t get a prompt response. I started looking for a phone number and couldn’t find one.
When we finally had an email exchange, I felt it “did not go well.”
Nevertheless, I’m trying to sample some Mocktails here.
I ordered my Curious Elixirs sometime in April. The instructions on the website said they were best served cold, so I popped them in the refrigerator.
For readers who follow my blog you know life happened and it was July before I actually sampled my elixirs.
The first thing I noticed was that they were clumpy. Clumpy, fuzzy and green.
Gross. My elixirs were curiously molded.
I checked the website to see if there was any info on shelf life. Yep, they should last a year. Well, mine didn’t, so I’ll just have to give them a quick call.
Oh. You know what?
I decided to just do the best I could, so I decided to evaluate their website.
Great slogan: Shaken, not slurred.
The first sentence in the “About” says, “…infused with adaptogens.” This may be a common enough term for those in the natural and holistic worlds, but I had to look it up. The dictionary says, “(in herbal medicine) a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes.”
The website also says that the elixirs “bolster the body using the mysterious properties of plants – from an ancient botanical that increases serotonin and dopamine precursors, to another that increases circulation and was used in Mayan culture as an aphrodisiac.”
Oh. OK, OK.
But I just wonder how they taste.
It’d be good to talk to someone in customer service.
The New York Times gave them a pretty good review in an article published January 22, 2021, “The Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks,” saying, “It isn’t as mind-bending as some other beverages we tried, but it is delicious and approachable.”
This really might be good.
My feedback for Curious Elixirs: Even in today’s hip, modern, tech happy world, you need a phone. Get a phone and answer it.
Some Final Thoughts
The New York Times article that I quoted reviewed 14 beverage brands. Only two of them are on my review list.
In addition to Mocktails there are seltzers, kombuchas, tonics, fancy ginger ales and flavored waters of every variation you can imagine.
But at the end of the day, it may all still just be window dressing.
Evidence of alcoholic beverages has been found that dates back to 5400 B.C. And according to Guinness, there may be evidence of wine production as early as 6000 B.C. We’ve always been looking for something to take the edge off. Whether it’s a cocktail, a Mocktail, a bong hit, a long walk or a yoga class, we need it. We need an elixir.
We need window dressing.
Mocktails are just one available tool. It’s up to each of us to find that individual elixir that takes the sharp edges off life without making us fat, addicted, lazy or hungover.
As for me, I’m still on a diet. I still have my cocktails – real ones. I have not lost weight.
(I also still have OCD and this experiment just wore me out.)
Mocktails don’t work for me. I’m all for them if they work for you. They just aren’t my window dressing.
So, I’m still looking for my big weight control solution. I’m still trying to figure out how to be the perfect hostess, wife, chef and bartender without ever overindulging.
In the meantime, I’m going to do what I always do:
I’m going to try not to take my weight or my alcohol intake too seriously. I’m not even going to take me too seriously.
I’m going to overstep my bounds and suggest that you, dear reader, do the same.
You be you. I’ll be me.
And don’t be too serious, unless of course, you’re being seriously quirky.
*A special note to those struggling with addiction or in recovery The content on Seriously Quirky is not medical advice, nor is it a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any condition or medical issues that you have.