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Zero Percenters at Amber Waves

Mon, 07/31/2023 - 14:11
Cheers to zero-proof drinking. A mocktail class was held in the Amber Waves Farm field in conjunction with Boisson, a retailer and distributor of nonalcoholic beverages, which are available in the store.
Judy D'Mello

Remember when, with the sun at its peak in the July sky, it was normally time to guzzle from a hosepipe of rose? Well, no longer. We seem to be in the midst of a dry summer if the thirst for zero-proof drinks is anything to go by. 

Boisson, the world's largest booze-free drinks distributor and retailer, held a class on a recent Friday evening at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett for a group of about 16 -- mostly Generation Z-ers and millennials -- on the art of mixing mocktails.

And what a group of a healthy-looking, bright-eyed individuals it was. What an advert for people who seemed to have this whole having-fun-without-alcohol thing figured out. A recent Gallup poll showed that Gen Z-ers and Boomers in the United States are less likely to drink alcohol than the older generations, while the number of college-age Americans who are teetotalers has risen from 20 to 28 percent in the last decade.

Gathered in Amber Waves's verdant fields, surrounded by acres of delicious vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers, some of which would end up in our drinks, a mixologist kicked off the crash course in concocting farm-to-glass elixirs with zero-proof beverages.

Two nonalcoholic spirits were featured: Seedlip Garden 108, a gin substitute to be used in a Garden Marg, and Ritual Zero Proof, a whiskey alternative for a Whiskey a No-No. 

Seedlip Garden 108's ingredients sound as though it could have been made right there at Amber Waves: peas, hay, and herbs including rosemary, thyme, and spearmint. (By the way, the 108 in the name is a nod to the number of days that usually takes peas to grow and be harvested after they are sown.) The mixologist instructed the group on the perfect measures of the nonalcoholic spirit (two ounces) and a half ounce each of freshly-squeezed lime juice, cucumber mint puree, and a serrano pepper-infused agave syrup, to be poured into a cocktail shaker, together with some ice, and shaken up -- bartender-style -- then poured into a glass. Next, the group was led into the farm fields to pick mint and an assortment of edible flowers to be used as garnish. The result was a delicious, fresh, green, crisp summer's drink that was thirst-quenchingly good.

Then came the Whiskey a No-No, a replica of a whiskey sour using a sour formula that's simple and timeless: spirit, citrus, and sweetener. The spirit here was two ounces of the Ritual Zero Proof, and the moment it was poured into the shaker, an aroma of real whiskey wafted through the air. A few people commented on the uncanniness of smelling a smokey, rich, textural oak from a beverage concocted of "filtered water, cane sugar, natural flavors, Xanthan gum, citric acid, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate as preservatives," according to its label. One ounce of fresh lemon juice was added, as well as a half ounce of honey syrup (an alternative to simple syrup), and muddled blueberries from the farm. Pour into a glass, throw in a few more berries and colorful flowers, such as pansies or nasturtium, and you've got yourself a very tasty, nonalcoholic whiskey sour that feels and tastes very close to the OG. Somehow, it packs all the attractive warmth and rich spice of a great American whiskey, all without the dread of a hangover.

Owen Grogan, the head of partnerships and experience at Boisson, summed up a growing movement among 20 and 30-somethings today toward a healthier, more mindful lifestyle. "The pandemic offered us a moment to stop and reevaluate our relationship with exercise and maybe what we're putting into our bodies. People started looking for more mindful options and trying to do better for themselves. And, more and more, we began to realize that as fun as alcohol can be, it can have a lot of negative effects. So, it's no surprise that there's been a rise in drinking more mindfully."

Mr. Grogan doesn't define himself as a teetotaler because he said he doesn't enjoy the pressure of abstaining entirely from alcohol. In today's terms that makes him "sober curious," someone who drinks less or not at all and is taking a moment to step back and honestly appraise one's relationship with booze.

For the East End's sober curious, Boisson will be back at Amber Waves Farm for another mocktail mixology class next Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $60 per person.

Here's to your health. Literally.

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