There are a million reasons why people choose to cut alcohol out of their life, but Sharelle Klaus – founder and CEO of DRY Botanical Bubbly – wants you to know you have options.
“My big mission in life is hopefully [in five years], I walk into a bar, I ask for a cocktail and the bartender says, ‘With or without alcohol?’” Klaus explains. “I want [there to be] no stigma [and] nothing weird about having a zero-proof lifestyle. It’s just a viable lifestyle.”
For Klaus, the journey to the zero-proof lifestyle started when she became pregnant with her first child. She recalls dining at a restaurant in Georgetown with her husband and feeling frustrated that she had almost no drink options as a pregnant woman. By her fourth pregnancy, she began to question why alcohol always seemed to be the center of focus for every celebration.
“If you choose not to drink, and there’s a million reasons not to drink alcohol, why do you have no options? And why do you feel like a second-class citizen?”
It was this frustration that led Klaus to establish DRY Botanical Bubbly, formerly DRY Soda Company, 15 years ago in Seattle with the mission that social drinking is for everyone. A multifaceted product, DRY is a sparkling beverage made with natural ingredients and botanicals that Klaus created to be paired with food. Each flavor has a different acidity and sweetness level, and her drinks have become popular as a mixer.
Whether consumed on its own or as a mixer, Klaus wanted DRY to be a drink people could enjoy while celebrating: an alternative to alcohol that wasn’t just water. When Klaus first started DRY, there was almost no zero-proof culture to speak of, she says. But the culture has exploded in popularity, especially over the last few years. She says drinking zero-proof is more than just a trend – it’s a cultural shift.
“[Millennials] talk about mental health, whereas my generation talks about physical health. We never, ever talk about mental health, and I think talking about that has made people question their relationship with alcohol.”
She says post-Covid, people will question this relationship even more. Just like most businesses this past year, DRY has seen its fair share of challenges with the pandemic. But that didn’t stop them from pushing forward. Realizing that going out would be on hold for a while, Klaus’ team came up with the idea of writing a zero-proof mixology book, “The Guide to Zero Proof Cocktails,” for people to make their own cocktails at home.
Klaus thinks this Dry January will be an especially difficult month for people but hopes her mixology book, and zero-proof beverages in general, will let people know they have options. As for the future of zero-proof, Klaus says DRY is focusing on the hosting experience by encouraging people planning an event to have zero-proof options for guests.
She also wants to encourage guests to “wine and DRY.” Instead of bringing two bottles of wine to an event, bring a bottle of wine and a bottle of DRY. The goal is to normalize zero-proof the way society has normalized having options for people with dietary restrictions.
“We want people to understand this is a drink that you can drink when you’re celebrating,” Klaus says. “The more we can make [zero-proof] normal by talking about it and giving people options, the more they feel like, ‘Oh, there’s other people out there like me.’ Our mission is to change the way people think about drinking.”
Visit DRY Botanical Bubbly online at www.drinkdry.com for more information and cocktail recipes, and to read their blog. You can order DRY online or use the search tool on their website to find DRY in a store near you. Follow them on Instagram @drysoda.
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