Similar to celery juice and CBD gummies circulating among wellness critics and enthusiasts alike, well-packaged botanical-infused drinks are dominating the scene — and they have been for a few years now. But what, besides their fruity flavors and curated millennial pink packaging keeps fans coming back for more than a bar cart showcase? According to Business Wire, the global plant-based beverages market accounted for $11.02 billion USD in 2017 and is expected to reach $33.96 billion USD by 2026. We took a deep dive into buzzwords like adaptogens and botanicals, interviewing founders from our favourite companies to get the low-down on these profoundly Goop-adjacent drinks.
What Are Botanicals?
And, why are they seemingly so popular all of a sudden? Standard Dose's founder Anthony Saniger knows a lot about the movement to cleaner more plant-based drinking: "Botanicals are plant-derived ingredients with powerful healing properties that can help with everything from sleep to stress and pain relief. For pain relief, arnica is a botanical we talk about a lot, as it helps to ease aches and muscle pains. For sleep, botanicals like valerian root and L-theanine help calm the body and mind for a restful sleep." It turns out, that unlike a lot of gimmicky trends, botanicals are backed by science.
"The acceleration of botanical ingredients can be credited to consumers’ focus on health and wellness, especially during COVID-19 and with what's going on in the world," says Aisha Chottani of Moment, a caffeine and sugar-free beverage company setting out to provide customers with a much-needed sense of calm. "Moment started when I was working in a very stressful job, where my afternoons were mostly filled with deadlines and everything around me was sugary and caffeinated. I started building meditation and mindfulness rituals and started incorporating adaptogens and botanicals, replacing my coffee and sugary drinks. The impact on me was incredible. We spent a year and a half formulating, to come up with a product that tastes good, has benefits, and is healthy."
There's that word, Adaptogen — what is that?
"Adaptogen" is just a fancy-schmancy term used to refer to traditional herbal remedies — like Turmeric, Elderberry, Reishi mushrooms — that “adapts” to your body's needs to help it maintain equilibrium. And, as all things consumed, the results depend on the person using them. In a study reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D: "Adaptogens work at a molecular level by regulating a stable balance in the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands. These are involved in the stress response. They work by 'hacking' the stress response in the body." Sarah Maguire from the beautifully packaged brand Recess finds that adaptogens are more than a buzzword for her. "To Recess, herbs like L-theanine, American Ginseng, and Lemon Balm are powerful compounds that help our body and mind maintain a calm and balanced state. The goal of these beverages is to make you feel more balanced, creative, and productive, so they're a great alternative to booze or your 2 p.m. coffee.”
Where do Apéritifs fit in?
Apéritifs areas translated from French, a before-dinner drink. They are lower in sugar and alcohol as to not compete with the taste and enjoyment of the delicious meal you're about to eat. They're meant for slow sippin' rather than guzzling and often made with aromatic herbs, bark, roots, and other botanicals in addition to lighter alcohol content. Co-founder and co-CEO Helena Price Hambrecht of Haus knows that the botanicals trend has been around since the 19th century when monks made their own in early pharmacies. "While the use of botanicals in apéritifs isn't new, the proliferation of apéritifs in the US is. Until a few years ago, apéritifs were a part of European drinking culture that was largely unknown in America. It just so happens apéritifs check all the boxes for what drinkers are looking for today — low-ABV, fresh botanical ingredients, lifestyle beverages."
With plant-based living and eco-consciousness on the rise, it's no surprise. "Today's generation wants to feel good about what they put in their bodies - they care about health and having control over what they consume. They're looking for more transparency, and they want to know what's in that bottle or can."
For health-conscious individuals looking to hone in on their inner Amalfi-Coast-zen, these drinks are one way to do it. The founder of Ghia a new, non-alcoholic bitter aperitif inspired by the Mediterranean, Melanie Masarin, agrees: “Ingredients are everything to us, and we go by the motto that a real drink is a drink made with real ingredients. It was very important to me that we made Ghia with only the best — a combination of botanical extracts and zero alcohol." Ghia is made with transparent, health-forward ingredients including Gentian Root, Lemon Balm, Fig, Elderflower, and no added sugar and can be enjoyed straight or mixed into mocktails.
All of these botanical and adaptogen-infused beverages are perfect for easing into Dry January or hey, why not a cleaner-drinking 2021 — a trend circulating for those looking to improve sleep, break habits, and taking in life with clarity and the high of achieving homeostasis.
Okay, bartender, what should I order?
Specialty brands like Ghia, Haus, Sweet Reason, Moment, and Recess, along with retailers like Standard Dose that sell botanical-infused beauty goods and beverages, have been on the forefront of everyone's minds, often popping up in the background of influencers' Instagram posts. And we get it, what's not to like about fresh herbs and fruity flavours that can be put on ice and sipped during work-from-home weeks sans hangover? This is one 2021 trend that's worthy of the natural buzz.