The world of alcohol-free spirits is growing today. Out of the woodwork it seems we are hearing about distilled and dealcoholized brands like SeedLip by (owned by Diageo), and Ceder’s (distributed by Pernod Ricard), and alcohol free flavored beverages like ArKay . These are being met by a growing number of people who are interested in not engaging in the world big alcohol has laid out. Mindfulness and clarity are growing around the world and alcohol is increasingly getting pushed to the outskirts. This is proven by the growth of themed months like Sober October and Dry January.
Innovators and visionaries often must weather ridicule. When your ideas are ahead if their time you often get laughed at due to others not being able to grasp the full scene of your vision. If you ever saw the 2006 documentary “Who Killed The Electric Car” you will know that Elon Musk was not the first to make an electric car, nor was he the visionary behind it, he simply stood on the shoulders of those he buried in the process of becoming the first billion dollar US car company. Electric cars of the 60s and 70s were the vision of those who were sick and tired of being sick and tired of their dependence on, or addiction to, gasoline. However, the industries that survive on that addiction, had worked really hard to get into that position, and were not going to give it up for anything, even if that meant killing the electric car, which they promptly did.
Breaking from addiction, and tradition, is not easy but it always starts as a soft little voice that we can easily quiet with dismissive statements and what we now know as micro-aggressions. In 2011 Time magazine’s Megan Gibson had nothing bad to say about the introduction of the first alcohol free spirit ArKay while The Wookie on Booze Dancing, said “If it ain’t Broke don’t fix it” And that was the point, Reynald Grattagliano the founder of ArKay and the grandfather of alcohol-free spirits, knew something was broken. Reynald saw that alcohol, although it was part of a world that connected people like no other, wasn’t the key ingredient. Sitting shoulder to shoulder, at the bar/pub as equals, the rich and the poor, the educated and illiterate with respect and love for others was the thing that made connections happen. So yes, vodka, whiskey, bourbon, gin and rum, are all broken, and continue to break connections, communities and families.
Max Eddie, on The Mary Sue actually wrote this “A niche, but perhaps very determined market” when referring to the market of alcohol-free spirit drinks that ArKay was addressing. Micro-Aggressions like this (referring to the market looking for this product as desperate but struck) are made to hold to the status-quo. We saw this happen in the tobacco industry, before there was legislation to remove it from advertising and now less people smoke cigarettes than ever because there are less places to input these micro-aggressions which pit us against each other. As the alcohol companies begin to tap into the alcohol-free spirit world, buying up startups like Ritual and SeedLip, they have begun to understand the need for the option they never previously considered. This is helping us all.
An adult drink is not one with alcohol in it, it is one a child would not enjoy. The earthy taste of beer, and the complexity of alcohol are enjoyable to those who don’t gravitate towards the sweet. And when we are sitting at a bar shoulder to shoulder with our neighbor, especially if we are not drinking, whether that is just today, or if it happens to be every day, we have options and those options are available
because of the vision of one man, who is still quietly going about his 25-million-dollar business, Reynald Grattagliano.
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