GDR CEO Kate Ancketill recounts her experience drinking non-alcoholic “Euphoric” spirit Kin with our new global client director Rachel Wilkinson at Café Clover in New York and considers what emerging products like this mean for the future of the food and beverage industry.
Binge drinking and the ladette culture of Gen X is decidedly uncool these days. We all know that staying in has, for a while, been the new going out for Millennials, with younger drinkers consuming 28% less alcohol on premise compared to the previous generation. There is now a clear trend where Millennials and Gen Z are drinking more low or no-alcohol beverages; IWSR forecasts low and no-alcohol growth between 2018-2022 of 81.1% for spirits in the UK, 44.3% for ready to drink and 6.6% for wines.
Seedlip already spotted this gap in the market, launching their non-alcoholic spirit as a very adult alternative to gin, (whilst costing the same as a fairly premium bottle of gin) creating a ritualistic mixing with Fever Tree tonic for British teetotallers or reducers. Last week Diageo acquired a majority stake in what it refers to as the “game-changing brand” just last week. Traditionally I think of spirits as being around 40% volume alcohol. Keel Light Vodka at only 23.8% is promoting itself as ‘low alcohol’ – though in my experience 23.8% will still see you under the table after a few! Whatever the legalities, the mere 58 calories per tipple will be a draw for many, combined with the likelihood of reduced next-day impact.
So, whilst there’s no question younger generations are more concerned with their health than my peers, they still want to have a good time and let loose.
There are already a smattering of marijuana-infused ‘alcohol-free wines’ cropping up such as House of Saka that claim to have almost no taste of weed, but to provide the full THC+CBD impact. In hipster London, CBD oil is the new avocado, and can be added like a shot to almost everything from smoothies to coffees or bought as a sweet in gummy bears.
House of Saka is a premium proposition whose patent pending, science-based alcohol-free wine is, in its own words, a: “precise cocktail of cannabinoids and terpenes designed to maximise the effect” for the drinker.
The rise of Euphorics
In response to this wider trend, GDR has identified an evolving category called Euphorics emerge in the market. This is currently made up of drinks/shots/products that you consume, but which contain naturally occurring cognitive mind-enhancing herbs, botanics and, in some cases, pharmaceuticals. Remember the film ‘Limitless’ with Bradley Cooper? This category of product is supposed to make you feel like Bradley – you’ll be a better version of yourself, but without any unfortunate hangovers, crashes or AA meetings.
At GDR we take our research extremely seriously and so having heard about this new ‘Euphoric’ category I was keen to learn more and sample a product for myself. What could be better than a buzz without the hangover? So myself and our intrepid ‘researcher’ Rachel Wilkinson, GDR’s new global client director, hit Café Clover one night in New York, to sample Kin and put its proposition to the test.
Kin is sold on its website as ‘Euphorics for humankind’, no less. It goes on to say: “If you have a brain and you are a creator, the future of revelry is here.” It describes its product as “an adult beverage, made from nourishing nootropics, balancing adaptogens and replenishing botanics that opens the mind, calms the body and connects the spirit”. Furthermore, it promises that it “lifts your mood, and enhances perception so we can better connect with others”.
However, the website also warns you should not consume more than four in 24 hours and must not mix with alcohol. Interestingly the drink can affect individuals very differently: giving some a buzz and others a calm relaxing feeling, depending on your starting levels of stress and physiological state.
Putting Kin to the test
We arrived at Clover Café like over excited 14-year-olds trying to get into an exclusive speakeasy club in Narnia. For scientific purposes we recorded that we were slightly stressed and definitely exhausted (so we could assess how we felt latter on).
Café Clover is a stylish establishment, frequented by a mainly local crowd in trendy Greenwich. Euphorics as a category has been on the menu for some time, nestled between the cocktails, however they are certainly not shouting about it and there is no effort to ‘sell it’ with shouty promos or materials. The management and Kin are taking a subtle approach and want the locals to authentically discover it and try it – then tell their peers all about it. It’s the classic early-adopters approach.
We both ordered a Kin cocktail which arrived in branded lowball glasses sporting their strapline ‘Rise Wisely’, which presumably would have been a bit baffling to the uninitiated who hadn’t checked out the website.
The taste was truly an explosion of citrus and lemongrass. Like a whisky sour, but without the whisky; delicious and healthy tasting, and we both agreed, very refreshing. Less refreshing was the rather steep $16 charge, the same cost as the hard stuff!
The menu and the manager advised us that some people feel an instant response to Euphorics and the Kin cocktail and others take at least two drinks, however they stated there was a three-drink maximum. The server clarified this was because of the caffeine content and the herbs and botanicals – but on the plus side, it doesn’t contain any carcinogenic metabolites like alcohol and will not dehydrate you or cause a hangover. Bonus!
After just one glass (we were jetlagged, and wary of the caffeine late at night) Rachel reported that she felt no more relaxed, but slightly less tired, which could have been credited to the delicious food also ordered. However, I felt distinctly more relaxed, jollier (equivalent to a double spirit, but without the detrimental cognitive impact), and less jet-lagged. On leaving the joint after our meal and a second cocktail, I noted that Rachel was positively giddy – like a merry teenager who had just tried her first shandy – so perhaps the effects take longer on some people? But only 40 minutes later at the end of the taxi ride, the effect had disappeared for both of us, just in time for sleep. Hardly a scientific study, but generally a thumbs up from both of us.
Kin is available via e-commerce throughout the US in both concentrated ‘spirit’ form, and in cans as a ready to drink beverage. With the millennial interest in having a good time without the hangover, I expect to see more of this interesting new category of beverage soon.