DIP 012: A different kind of well drink

PLUS: Outdoor Voices' content platform, Arfa's first label, and the new branded merch

👋 Hi. The Retail Safari team asked about my favorite stores, and you can see what I shared here. The common theme is that they all stock things that are nice to look at and touch and sometimes buy (or just fawn over). As always, reply with questions, comments, or thoughts about anything you read here.

The Chips 🕹

  • Outdoor Voices is building out a content platform called The Recreationalist.

  • Warby Parker launched same-day sunglass delivery in East Hampton.

  • Equal Parts, the first brand from Gin Lane-led Pattern Brands, will launch this fall. Related: DIP 008 explored the rise of the agency-as-incubator.

  • Whom is a new furniture label with a decidedly irreverent voice.

  • Clever, an offshoot of Architectural Digest, has teamed up with Urban Outfitters for an exclusive collection of furniture and design objects.

  • Arfa, Henry Davis’ forthcoming “house of brands,” has filed a trademark for a deodorant label called Hiki. Related: DIP 007 dug into the rise of direct-to-consumer holding companies.

  • Supplement label Ritual has introduced branded merch. It previously gave away sweatshirts on Instagram and sold them at its LA pop-up. Related: Glossier has also launched merch, dubbed GlossiWEAR.

  • Entireworld gave its site a facelift and I’m loving the About page.

  • Pinterest is embedding guided wellness activities like breathing exercises and meditations into its site experience.

The Dip 📍

Low- and no-ABV beverages, once perceived as novelties or drinks reserved for those who don’t consume alcohol, are a veritable thing. And while they’re trending upwards, I hesitate to call it a trend. Due to a number of converging factors, the shift has staying power.

Low-ABV Rises

I don’t know if it’s possible to pinpoint the one single thing that catalyzed the movement toward low-ABV drinks, but I think the Aperol spritz has a lot to do with it.

Spritzes have been a staple of European aperitivo culture for decades, but it’s only recently that they’ve risen stateside. The Aperol spritz is the most ubiquitous, and while interest in the drink had been slowly climbing for a few years, it was a 2018 marketing campaign that solidified the tangerine-hued drink as a summer staple.

Aperol became the gateway aperitif. Established brands like Cynar, Contratto, and Lillet now appear on cocktail lists alongside small-batch labels like Brooklyn’s acclaimed Forthave Spirits. The new stateside aperitifs have mostly opted for traditional retail and hospitality distribution. It wasn’t until the recent launch of Haus that an aperitif label met consumers where they were, combining what people want to be drinking with how they prefer to shop.

And whereas health (quote, unquote) was once a secondary focus (in that the lower alcohol content of an Aperol spritz makes it only mildly intoxicating), it’s becoming more of a selling point.

In an interview with PSFK, Haus co-founder Helena Price Hambrecht explained the impetus for her new brand:

I was really starting to feel the effect over the years. I really love being out and socializing. I love that drinking can bring people together. At the same time, I don't like being drunk. I don't like being hungover.

Aperitifs are not drinks to be recklessly thrown back — there’s still alcohol in them, after all. But most often, they’re consumed consciously and for enjoyment, not inebriation. The desire for beverages that are less intoxicating and less damaging is significant, and why I believe the shift will be a permanent one.

This Is Your Brain On Drugs

Alcohol is a depressant. That’s something that most of us probably learned in elementary school D.A.R.E. programs, but it wasn’t something that I noticed myself feeling until recently. On the rare occasion that I consume a few drinks (three or four — no one’s ripping shots around here), I wake up the next morning in a haze of self-hate and anxiety.

My experience isn’t unique. It’s what alcohol does to you, plain and simple.

There’s been a lot written about the new wave of sobriety recently. The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Vox have all covered it. But to call it a trend, as some articles have, is dismissive of those who struggle with or have struggled with alcohol addiction.

And while abstaining from alcohol for a few months is by no means a bad thing, labeling it — making an excuse for it — is equally problematic. The concept of “sober curiosity” positions teetotaling as an experiment, as if the personal decision to not drink isn’t enough, and giving it a name is what legitimizes it.

All of this ties back to a growing awareness of and appreciation for the fact that what we put in our bodies impacts overall wellbeing. People are avoiding substances that have a negative impact, and are instead seeking out those that can have a positive one.

Galaxy Brain In A Bottle

Kin Euphorics is a no-ABV beverage optimized for social interactions. It's a mix of nootropics, adaptogens, and botanicals intended to facilitate revelry, human connection, and open-mindedness. In other words, it’s a non-alcoholic social lubricant. UK-based Three Spirit is crafted around a similar premise.

Investments in cannabis are soaring, Michael Pollan's How To Change Your Mind is leading people to recognize the untapped potential of entheogens, and Denver decriminalized psychedelics.

We’re seeing a movement toward substances that expand your mind rather than dull you down, and the preference for low-ABV drinks is working in concert with all of this.

Still Hungry?
  • Liquid Death, the canned water that was mercilessly mocked at launch, is looking to raise an additional $10M. With packaging that could easily pass for beer, Liquid Death’s greatest opportunity isn’t as a thirst quencher, but rather a no-ABV beverage.

  • California-based Lo-Fi Aperitifs will soon begin distributing in Whole Foods, according to a recent installment of Quartzy.

  • The rise of natural wine is relevant to this, too. Bon Appétit writer Marissa Ross has been a major proponent of low-intervention wines, to the point that a wine like Strekov 1075’s “Fred #2” has grown fairly ubiquitous (and rightfully so — it’s delicious).

Real Dip ✂

Masabacha, aka deconstructed hummus.

Start with two cans of chickpeas. Save the liquid from one can, then drain and rinse both.

Mix 1 cup of tahini (I like Soom) with a quarter of the chickpeas in a blender or food processor, until the mixture is thick but still pourable. Thin it out with a little of the chickpea liquid or a squeeze of lemon juice, if needed. Add salt.

In a mixing bowl, combine the tahini-chickpea mixture with the whole chickpeas and some chopped parsley or mint. Feel free to add zingy things like cumin, coriander, preserved lemon, or minced garlic.

Pair it with grilled eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, and chopped cucumbers.

Thanks for snacking,

— Emily  🔮