Thanks to the craft cocktail movement, Americans have a wide array of cocktails to choose from that actually taste good. That means cocktails that aren’t just sugar-loaded, blue-dye-infused, iced-up alcohol bombs designed solely to hide the fact you are drinking alcohol.
The cocktails have started tasting so good, in fact, that people are turning to “soft cocktails.” No, soft cocktails aren’t the Shirley Temples served at the kids’ table. A soft cocktail is a drink that has all of the syrups, fresh muddled fruit, style and creativity of a cocktail, but lacks the booze. It’s essentially the session cocktail taken as far as possible.
Enter Curious Elixirs. Curious Elixirs markets itself as “what you drink when you’re not drinking.” It acknowledges the designated driver, sober marketing agent, pregnant women and early morning hot yoga enthusiasts that aren’t up for a night of drinking but want to enjoy the flavor of their favorite cocktail. Or, you know, the 30 percent of American adults who don’t drink and the 30 percent of American adults who consume less than one drink per week. The 10 percent of American adults (some 24 million people) that the Washington Post reports drink an average of 74 drinks per week can just move on.
“Our mission is to make delicious non-alcohol drinks available at bars, restaurants, parties, gatherings and in the home,” founder John Wiseman tells VinePair. “People who aren’t drinking alcohol deserve something interesting.”
Curious Elixirs has already designed their first product, Curious No. 1, and is now turning to Kickstarter to help fund the production and creation of No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. By Wiseman’s estimation, it will take $30,000 to get No.1 produced, bottled, distributed, and health and safety reviewed. From there, $60,000 will get No. 2 out the door, and $90,000 will send out No. 3.
The idea is for Curious Elixirs to taste like everyone’s favorite alcoholic cocktails, and Wiseman knows what he’s doing on that front. He worked in nightlife and bars for years before life started to catch up. As his cofounder Ashley Simon put it, “I’m getting old and hangovers have become epic 2-day affairs — not even milkshakes + french fries + Netflix can cure them.”
Wiseman says that Curious Elixirs draws inspiration from some of his favorite bartenders: Ivy Mix, Nico de Soto, Abigail Gullo and Sother Teague. The main question: Can a soft cocktail ever live up to the promises of a true cocktail? Wiseman says all three of Curious Elixirs products are “designed to hit flavor notes from some of our favorite craft cocktails,” but as to which ones, “you’ll have to try them to figure out.”
No, Curious Elixirs will never be the majority go-to for your next cocktail party. But just because you can’t drink doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good cocktail flavor. Besides, if all that your host is offering is soft cocktails, there’s nothing stopping you from putting a splash of booze in it.