Hollywood’s New Party Drink of Choice: Nonalcoholic Cocktails

Hollywood’s New Party Drink of Choice: Nonalcoholic Cocktails

Many glasses that were raised in Hollywood this holiday season may contain spiritless spirits. Stars are jumping into the nonalcoholic adult beverage market with their own brands; sales are up dramatically in the $395 million sector (rising 20.6 percent between August 2021 and August 2022, according to market research company NielsenIQ); and a growing list of celebs are speaking out about alcohol-free, sober and sober-curious lifestyles (Ben Affleck and wife Jennifer Lopez, Anne Hathaway, Chrissy Teigen, Drew Barrymore and Kit Harington among them). A pandemic-driven societal focus on wellbeing is also driving demand.

Christopher Lackner, cofounder of Jeng ,, a maker of CBD-infused and alcohol-free canned cocktails (including a Jeng&Tonic and a Paloma), says, “We are at a new era in social drinking.” “It’s not difficult or awkward to be sober now that there are high-quality alternatives. In fact, it’s quite a treat.” Producer Jennifer Klein (of the upcoming Everest) served the company’s Moscow Mule cocktails at her annual holiday party in Brentwood last year.

Katy Perry in an ad for her De Soi canned drinks brand, co-founded with master distiller Morgan McLachlan. CAA is an investor in the company; $25 for a four-pack, drinkdesoi.com

Katy Perry in an ad for her De Soi canned drinks brand, co-founded with master distiller Morgan McLachlan; $25 for a four-pack, drinkdesoi.com.

Courtesy of DANA BOULOS

The new nonalcoholic offerings go beyond OG beers like O’Doul’s or Clausthaler. They include premium spirits, wine and bitters, mixers, and premixed cocktails packaged in vibrant, design-conscious packaging. Among the famous names who have entered the space are Bella Hadid, co-founder of Kin Euphorics, a line of beverages that blends adaptogens, botanicals, nootropics (cognitive enhancers) and light caffeine to calm or energize; and Katy Perry, co-creator of wine-inspired De Soi sparkling drinks that mix juices, herbs and mushrooms. Justin Bieber and Taraji P.Henson, Barbie Ferreira and Tommy Dorfman all love Kin Euphorics. CAA is also an investor in De Soi.

There are many non-alcoholic beverage shops popping up in L.A., which look a lot like hipster liquor stores. Soft Spirits debuted in Silver Lake a year ago, while The New Bar opened this summer at 1821 Lincoln Blvd. Venice. A de-alcoholized Syrah wine by London-based Noughty is a top seller at the latter.

Soft Spirits at 3208½ Sunset Blvd. in Silver Lake.

Soft Spirits at 3208 1/2 Sunset Blvd. Silver Lake

COURTESY OF BRAND

Since debuting in 2021, New York-based nonalcoholic beverage retailer Boisson, which offers more than 125 brands, has rolled out six locations in NYC, one in San Francisco and three in Los Angeles — in Brentwood, Studio City and, most recently, Beverly Hills. The business will soon unveil its own Boisson Blanc nonalcoholic white wine ($16).

Among the brands sold at Boisson are downtown L.A.-based Amass (counting Derek Jeter as an investor) which makes Rivertine, a nonalcoholic option with a gin-like profile; and Free Spirits, a Marin County company that serves up nonalcoholic alternatives to bourbon, gin and tequila infused with B vitamins as a bonus. Emmy Award-winning composer Blake Neely (The Flight Attendant) has Free Spirits on hand at his Cow on the Wall Studios to sip during recording sessions, while producer Holly Wiersma (Billionaire Boys Club) tells THR that when she entertains, she sets up a dedicated “Free Spirits bar with craft cocktails because so many people don’t drink anymore.” Free Spirits will add a nonalcoholic vermouth in 2023, followed by ready-to-drink cocktails.

Free Spirits’ Spirit of Tequila is a reposado alternative; $37, drinkfreespirits.com

Courtesy of Lupine Hammack/Courtesy of Brand

Other nonalcoholic brands of note include Little Saints, which layers CBD, botanical terpenes and reishi mushroom in its Mimosa, Spicy Margarita and Ginger Mule mocktails; and Chicago-based Ritual Zero Proof, co-founded by novelist and screenwriter Marcus Sakey (Good People). The latter entered the market in 2019 as a “liquor replacement,” now with gin, whiskey, tequila and rum options.

N.A. based in Downtown Los Angeles brand Optimist Botanicals, launched in 2021, with flavors that channel vodka (Bright), tequila (Smokey), and gin (Fresh) with a fourth Amaro beverage landing later this month. According to the company, Optimist Botanicals was the top-selling nonalcoholic spirit in upscale grocery store-cafe Erewhon. It is also served at hot spots like Gold-Diggers and The Hollywood Roosevelt.

DJ and wellness entrepreneur Hannah Bronfman is an investor in Ghia, an L.A.-based nonalcoholic aperitif brand inspired by Mediterranean culture that crafts citrusy-bitter drinks like its Le Spritz from herbs, fruits and roots. Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jenna Lyons and chef-restaurateur Daniel Boulud all sip Ghia, which debuted in June 2020.

Another recent libation launch came from Portland in the form of ready-to-drink nonalcoholic cocktail brand For Bitter for Worse, whose concoctions include its sparkling Eva’s Spritz aperitif; The Saskatoon, a pinot noir stand-in; and the whiskey-reminiscent Smoky No. 56.

These beverages offer sophisticated cocktails that are reminiscent of the culture of the bar, but without the use of alcohol or any side effects.

Says For Bitter for Worse co-founder Shelley Elkovich, “I can tell you that an A-list actress ordered 36 bottles of Eva’s Spritz during her pregnancy and another household name rush-ordered our drinks with overnight shipping to her penthouse in Greenwich Village.”

Mocktails by Little Saints; $27 for a fourpack, littlesaints.com

Mocktails by Little Saints, whose fans have included Brie Larson, Jason Bateman and Miranda Kerr; a canned nonalcholic negroni launches in late November; $27 for a four-pack, littlesaints.com

TIMOTHY C HUFFT/COURTESY OF BRAND

This story was first published in The Hollywood Reporter magazine’s Nov. 9 issue. Click here to subscribe.

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