We are thrilled to introduce you to one of the original nonalcoholic brands, Curious Elixirs, in this Q&A with JW Wiseman their Co-Founder and CEO. Delia adores Curious Elixir’s craft mocktails! She loves that they don’t have added sugar, that they are healthy because of their adaptogens, and that if she drinks them before bed, it helps her fall asleep.
What led you to start Curious Elixirs?
Drinking too much! After 20 drinks in one night in 2012, I woke up terrified and knew I needed a drastic change with my relationship to alcohol. I quickly grew bored of club soda + bitters and wondered why nothing existed that was sophisticated and non-alcoholic, something that was fun to drink and also made me feel good. I began tinkering at home in the Hudson Valley for myself and friends that were starting to drink less. After years of tweaking recipes, I began collaborating with award-winning mixologists and food scientists. Before the term ‘sober curious’ had even been coined, Curious was born in 2015. More quickly than expected, Curious became the first top-selling name in booze-free craft beverages and we’ve seen an entire industry develop around it. Clearly the best things in life grow out of the darkness.
How are you working to make non-alcoholic nightlife more popular?
We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the non-alcoholic nightlife space, both in practice and in interest, since we started eight years ago. We’re proud to be a pioneer in that lifestyle.
Everything we do at Curious is about showing how nightlife can be more fun, more unexpected, and more memorable with less alcohol. Whether it’s the Elixirs themselves, or our memes, or wearing bunny masks and tuxedos while we pour at Awards ceremonies, we’re always coming up with weird shit to shift the culture.
In particular, the enthusiastic response to Club Curious, the world’s first sober speakeasy + arts club, is also a clear indication of people embracing the idea of going out without alcohol. At Club Curious we have people who have been sober for years, for the month, and those just looking to take a night off but still want to socialize in a nightlife environment.
How did you go about crafting the drinks?
Each Curious Elixir first comes from my cocktail dreams and memories. For example, Curious No. 1 is inspired not just by my dream of a non-alcoholic Negroni, but also a very particular dry sparkling Lambrusco that lingers on the tongue.
To bring these dreams to life, we have an incredibly creative team of world-class bartenders, herbalists, and food scientists that work with us in development on every cocktail. Four years ago, I even apprenticed with some of our food scientists for a year so that I could work on my own recipes.
How can we change the stigmas around not drinking/the conversation around alcohol?
By showing that life with less alcohol can be way more fun and memorable than those hazy nights of the past. That’s what Club Curious is all about: a sober speakeasy where you never know who’s going to pop in, or what’s going to happen. Just last week a rising star of the NYC comedy world celebrated his book launch by roasting marshmallows over the flames of the book itself. So fun and so weird.
Before you started Curious Elixirs, you were in the bar/nightclub business. What interested you in hospitality?
I’ve loved hospitality since I was a little kid. Food and drink bring people together like nothing else, and even more importantly, it brings together different types of people. People from all walks of life, different socioeconomic backgrounds, different politics, everything. Restaurants, bars, clubs, performance venues remain the great mixing vessels of America. And, I absolutely love getting to know the stories behind these diverse and diverting humans… plus, hospitality, in its best incarnations, allows every guest to be both nourished and nurtured. And that’s something we all need more of.
How is Curious Elixirs different from the other non-alcoholic brands?
We’re nearly a decade into our quest to make the world’s best booze-free beverages. What we use instead: organic fruits, roots, herbs, and spices. While many new companies have incorporated herbs and adaptogens to make non-alcoholic drinks that help bolster the body, Curious Elixirs has no natural flavors, no refined sugar, no preservatives, no bullshit. Not a single other brand has the strict quality of clean ingredients that Curious has.
Crafting something delicious and functional is incredibly difficult. It’s been a big challenge to use only the best real ingredients and to find suppliers that will create organic extracts that don’t use alcohol. That’s why it took a few years to get it right and one of the reasons why Curious is more lauded than pretty much anything else that’s come after us. We’re also always working on new techniques and tweaking our recipes. Our work is never done 😉
What is Club Curious?
Club Curious is our sober speakeasy in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s a space to showcase our booze-free craft cocktails and bring together creatives to showcase their talents. We’ve had mentalists, authors, Alvin Ailey dancers, Grammy nominees, and so many more fascinating sober-curious creators through the Club. The best way to find out about our events is to follow us on Instagram or sign up for our newsletter.
What’s the best way to drink Curious Elixirs? Is it 1 serving/bottle?
Currently each of our cocktails are two per serving. We encourage guests to invert the bottle to make sure it’s properly mixed, then serve over ice. This summer we will be releasing new formats: mini can versions of our No. 1 (inspired by a Negroni Sbagliato) and No. 4 (inspired by a Blood Orange Spritz). These mini cans will be one serving/can.
What are adaptogens?
Adaptogens are natural ingredients that help our bodies manage stress. Our elixirs are infused with adaptogens to help you unwind. Our No. 1 is infused with rhodiola, No. 2 has damiana, No. 4 contains tulsi, and so on. We believe in the power of these adaptogens to support balance and overall well being.
For our readers who are entrepreneurs, what’s the best way in your opinion to build & grow a business centered around community?
#1 Tip: Get started with something small TODAY. Then work on it for just 5 minutes a day, every day.
#2 Tip: Ask questions, listen, and learn from everyone that resonates with you. The persistent asking of questions and thoughtfully listening to the answers plants seeds that will eventually grow into something wonderful.
What’s next for you?
The Great Curious Cocktail Party. We decided to throw 50 parties in 50 cities all on 1 night. It’s going to be on May 18, 2023 and if we do it right, it could end up being the Biggest Sober Shindig of all time.
Where can we find you and Curious Elixirs?
The best way to find Curious Elixirs is on our website: curiouselixirs.com. We offer shipping throughout the entire United States and will soon ship to Canada. We’re also found at top restaurants and bars throughout the country as well as speciality bottle shops.
Try Curious Elixirs
Alison + Delia