Back when going to parties was a normal part of the week, Disco Dining Club founder and hostess extraordinaire Courtney Nichols invited me to a party with a new alcohol-free spirit called Kin Euphorics. Hosted in a fabulous backyard in West Hollywood and complete with several bars, dancers, and light snacks, the party was the epitome of a Los Angeles night out, even if thinking of it now feels completely foreign to me. But there was one subtle difference, at this party, nobody was drunk. Made with “adaptogens, nootropics, and botanics” Kin was the second such booze-less beverage to make its way onto my radar in recent months. Seedlip is a similarly-focused drink that strives for balance and quality instead of using sugar to replace the satisfaction of a buzz.
There’s a few important differences between the two, though. Seedlip is actually distilled, and doesn’t contain any mood or mind altering additions. It focuses mostly on using herbs and natural ingredients to build flavor. Kin, on the other hand, will change how you feel a bit, and is dubbed by the brand as a “nonalcoholic nightlife beverage.” After a couple of “drinks” at the party I certainly felt freer and less anxious, the stress of a new business and freelance worries rolling off my shoulders for a few hours. That’s because I was drinking Kin High Rhode ($39 for a 500 ML bottle), which features rhodiola rosea, an adaptogen that regulates cortisol, and the nootropic GABA that helps balance mood, to name a few. High Rode is made with hibiscus, licorice root, and orange peel, so it’s slightly citrusy, floral and earthy. If I was comparing it to a cocktail, I’d place it in the realm of an old fashioned, and mixing it with a splash of ginger beer and an orange twist is a great way to drink it at home.
But when surveying the drinks market, it seems wise to not simply replace liquor with a substitute, and Kin wisely opted to do a spritz in a can for another alternative. Basically taking the High Rode and mixing it with carbonated water and white grape juice for you, Kin Spritz (8 pack is $47) is great because it comes in a cute little 8 ounce can — like a mini soda can — and is the perfect size for travel or taking on a long walk. Trust me, I’ve taken more than a few in the car on a late night drive or out on an afternoon walk during the long, lonely days of 2020 to lift my spirits. It’s also a cleaner, easier way to dole out the adaptogens doses, more like a beer or a glass of wine than mixing a drink. Be mindful that both of these products have caffeine in them, so if you’re sensitive to that save them for earlier in the day.
Finally, the last Kin product is geared toward restful sleep, which made it slightly more risky to serve at a party. It’s not so strong that it made anyone pass out, though. Dream Light ($39 for a 500 ML bottle) contains reishi mushrooms, a hint of melatonin, and is spiked with flavor from spicy botanics like chili, cinnamon, and ginger. It’s perfect for before bed and drinking with some warm milk — the brand recommends oat milk because it helps facilitate insulin production. In the realm of chai, and definitely better hot, this nightcap style beverage should not taken in the car on a long night drive because a glass really does make me drowsy. It’s good with any kind of nut milk, regular milk, and even poured into a mug of boiling hot ginger tea.
As someone who sometimes relished alcohol’s ability to help me fall asleep, Dream Light is probably my most-used Kin product. It helps me get to that drowsy stage without any of the sluggishness that getting drunk brings with it, and when I woke up I never feel groggy. Also, I’ve never been able to take melatonin on its own because it drives my system haywire, but the slight amount in this recipe seems to work because it’s just a hint. Smoky and slightly sweet, this drink always hits me like the best kind of nighttime tea, and it’s an ideal ritual to tuck into bedtime during the pandemic, when the long days of isolation can be hard to break up.
For the last four or five years I’ve been a religious follower of Dry January, the tradition of taking a month off drinking after the debauchery of December holiday parties and vacation-related day drinking. Now that I’ve been spending so much more time at home, I’ve naturally been drinking less all year, and the less I drink, the more balanced other things like sleep, exercise and nutrition have become. All that to say, if you haven’t tried to at least cut back on alcohol recently, then Kin might be a good gateway beverage to help you see the lasting impact of less booze. If the idea of getting to 5 PM and not having that glass of red wine frightens you, why not try subbing Kin in for a night or two? And if you’re planning to go for the full month, this is a much more interesting stop gap than soda, tea or juice.
I’m not doing a full-on 30 day abstention this year, partially because options like Kin and Seedlip means I don’t have to; finding other solutions and replacements for drinking has become a part of my life every day, not just during a month-long sabbatical. Hats off to Kin founder Jen Batchelor, not just for challenging the boys club world of booze, but for challenging the foundation of that club, too. And as soon as parties are safe again, I’d be more than happy to revisit Kin’s clubhouse when they open it back up. At this point in time, being able to be around people seems so much more important than if there’s booze involved.
Start on a high note with Kin and their specially-priced ritual bundle.