The nonalcoholic (zero-ABV) beverage category is booming as consumers seek healthier ways of relaxing, and leading the pack is Katy Perry’s De Soi.
In 2022, singer and American Idol judge Katy Perry launched De Soi, a nonalcoholic apéritif brand she co-founded with award-winning master distiller, Morgan McLachlan.
“Just in time for SOBERUARY! Excited to announce @drinkdesoi a line of sparkling nonalcoholic aperitifs I’ve created w/ my fellow new mama/botany babe Morgan McLachlan,” Perry tweeted at the launch. “Our apéritifs are full of feel-good adaptogens for a drink that helps you create, relax & ease into the night.”
Zero-abv drinks are on the upswing. The category took off during covid, as consumers grew more concerned about their health and immunity. The category has continued to show strength with at-home purchases and restaurant-crafted mocktails both surging.
Zero-alcohol beverages grew by nearly 40 percent between 2020 and 2021, and the category is expected to grow at an 8.4 percent CAGR by 2026. During that same period, life expectancy declined by nearly a year, dropping from 77 years to 76.1, according to data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). That decline took U.S. life expectancy at birth to its lowest level since 1996.
That, combined with covid and the increase in diet and lifestyle-related illnesses including type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer, have sent younger generations toward healthier options, including the shift away from alcohol.
Some of that shift may also be due to “climate anxiety” — an affliction particularly high in younger generations as concerns over the future mount. Alcohol is a depressant and can exacerbate negative feelings. A survey published earlier this year in The Lancet found nearly 60 percent of youth and young adults were extremely worried about climate change. More than 45 percent said their concerns over climate change negatively affected their daily lives.
And now, as millennials and Gen Z trade in their cocktails for mocktails, they’re still seeking a way to take the edge off. De Soi has been delivering relief through a blend of better-for-you adaptogens and botanical ingredients that promote relaxation. The apéritifs include culinary botanicals like yuzu, lemongrass, and rosemary that are mixed with adaptogens like L-theanine, reishi mushroom, and ashwagandha to help bring about relaxation in drinks that are lower in sugar than most cocktails.
De Soi offers four apéritifs: Golden Hour, Champignon Dreams, Purple Lune, and its newest, Trés Rosé — a bright flavor profile (in Barbie pink cans no less).
“With Très Rosé, we wanted to create a flavor that truly embodies the feeling of
summer,” Perry said in a statement. “Each sip takes you to a sun-drenched beach, a sparkling pool, or a tropical island paradise.”
Perry told Cosmopolitan earlier this year she’s more focused than ever on being aware of what she’s putting in her body, “mostly to maintain feeling because of the bigness of my life and being a mother,” she said. “It’s really about being able to keep that delicate balance intact.”
Part of the shift, Perry says, is that younger generations are “just a little bit more entrepreneurial and more ambitious.”
“We love to seize the day and get the most out of life,” she said. “And so we can’t let curveballs knock us off our center. I think that the information in science is just so much more out there about what we put into our body and whether it serves us or brings us down. So I think we’re now just more informed as a whole.”
De Soi says it aims to put the “fun” in “functional” through all of its products. The label is inspired by the French ethos of pleasure with restraint, offering consumers a sophisticated alternative to alcohol.
We caught up with McLachlan and Deo Soi’s CEO, Scout Brisson, to learn more about the label, the new product, and the benefits of their signature ingredients.
Ethos: What was the inspiration behind creating a rosé-inspired, non-alcoholic apéritif?
MM: Trés Rosé was inspired by a mood I wanted to invoke. I set out to create a flavor that was fun, something delightfully frivolous and flirty, easy-to-drink, yet with enough complexity to inspire the consumer to keep exploring the flavor profile.
Technically, there aren’t many formal rosé aperitifs on the market, but I loved the thought of the versatility of a rosé aperitif, in terms of both occasions (on a yacht! at a nightclub! at thanksgiving dinner!) and food pairings.
Ethos: What challenges did you face in conceiving Trés Rosé and the rest of the De Soi flavors?
SB: We’ve always strived to create non-alcoholic options that are as sophisticated and interesting as their alcoholic alternatives while delivering on taste because we’re realists — it’s hard to directly mimic the taste of alcohol. Très Rosé as an ode to Rosé, with its bright red fruit notes of raspberry and grapefruit most often seen in your favorite summer sip. And it’s got a little bit of that ‘zing’ of acidity you know and love, too.
Ethos: How does Trés Rosé differentiate from the more traditional bitter apéritifs in terms of flavor and ingredients?
MM: Trés Rose is decidedly lighter and less bitter than traditional aperitifs. I adore bitter aperitifs, and our initial product range was really an homage to traditional aperitifs in their ingredient composition, however… bitters are not for everyone!
In the spirit of inclusivity, we crafted something we’re confident is accessible to a wide audience. In terms of the bitter component of Trés Rosé, I employed grapefruit, raspberry, and rooibos to layer in soft bitters and tannins.
I stayed away from the strong bittering herbs that are traditionally used in continental aperitifs, such as gentian, melissa (lemon balm), and cascara bark, to name a few. That said, Trés Rosé is a nuanced, complex drinking experience. Fruit notes of lychee, raspberry, and grapefruit combine with middle notes from chamomile, red fruit tannins from rooibos come through on the finish, and the floral notes from the lychee are enhanced by gentle notes of violet.
Ethos: Can you describe the benefits of the adaptogens used in Trés Rosé, such as lion’s mane, saffron, and l-theanine derived from green tea?
MM: The adaptogen profile in Trés Rosé, as in all of our offerings, was developed with the goal of delivering a general effect of relaxation and a sense of well-being. I collaborated on our adaptogenic formulas with Kerry Hughes, an esteemed ethnobotanist, to use clinical levels of the ingredients in our products.
L-theanine promotes a general sense of calm and focus, while lion’s mane mushroom promotes calm alertness, and has incredibly neuroprotective properties. While saffron is generally known to be one of the most valuable and luxurious spices in the world, it is also clinically proven to improve sleep and supports with stress mitigation.
Ethos: Are zero-ABV drinks here to stay or is it a trend? How do you see the category evolving?
SB: 1000% here to stay. The trifecta of ubiquitous emphasis on wellness, younger generations drinking far less, and more options entering the conversation mean that the non-alcoholic category is having a major moment.
Almost a quarter of adults in the U.S. plan to drink less alcohol next year (Source: Coefficient Capital Trends Report). Gen Zs and Millennials especially are de-stigmatizing what it means to be sober… or rather, sober curious, swapping out alcohol even for just one round, or for one month.
As the category develops, we’ll see more non-alcoholic options in more places that we, as consumers, want to see them! Restaurants, bars, hotels, grocery stores, your neighborhood markets, and beyond.
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