A Recess pop-up.Courtesy of Recess

You can go booze-free with a buzz — and benefits

New alcohol-free beverages don’t just want to help you stay sober, they want to help you feel better.

By Rachel Raczka, Boston Globe correspondent

Consider it a disruption in the practice of social sipping. New alcohol-free beverages don’t just want to help you stay sober — they want to help you feel better.

So it’s Dryuary. Or maybe you’re “sober curious.” Or, it’s Massachusetts and you’ve gone “Cali Sober,” trading booze for pot.

Twenty- and 30-somethings’ waning interest in recreational drinking is shaking up the industry, and their successors are expected to continue in trend. A 2018 Berenberg Research report found members of Generation Z are disinterested in drinking culture, consuming more than 20 percent less per capita than millennials, who started the decline when they were the same age.

On the edge of the increasingly fuzzy wellness market, sober-sometimes innovators say a #mindful abstinence from alcohol doesn’t have to mean giving up what they perceive as positive aspects of drinking culture, like socializing or winding down after a long day. Linked to the growing industry of low- and no-ABV spirits and seltzer, botanical-spiked beverages are marketed and developed to be sipped like a mixed drink. They’re a response to our simultaneously stressed-out and self-soothing nature with some of the psychosocial appeal and (fingers crossed) none of the side effects.

“My partner and I wanted to solve something we were personally dealing with,” said Kin Euphorics CEO and co-founder, Jen Batchelor. “The more we cared about our well-being and supplementing for our well-being, the more we realized alcohol didn’t fit that equation. But we still wanted to socialize so we had to come up with something to support that.”

After rounds of self-testing, Batchelor and co-founder Matthew Cauble launched their first zero-proof product, High Rhode, a blend of adaptogens, nootropics, and caffeine, in December 2018. The $39 bottle came packaged with the social-chic allure of a Cheshire Cat and promises of inducing a state of “bliss.” You can drink it on the rocks or mixed into cocktails — it’s slightly bitter and herbaceous thanks to gentian and licorice roots. They’ve since expanded to canned carbonated four-packs (Kin Spritz) and a nightcap elixir named Dream Light.

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