There is a cultural shift in how we socialize, with a more collective understanding that a good time no longer has to be credited to alcohol. More people are going booze-less year-round with more options available for those opting to be sober. Celebrities like Katy Perry (De Soi) and Bella Hadid (Kin Euphorics) are joining in on a movement that’s reaching new heights: the non-alcoholic sector is expected to be $30 billion globally by 2025, according to Global Market Insights.
Joining the ranks of this innovation are six women entrepreneurs below, who are at the forefront of transforming a very competitive beverage industry into a more inclusive one.
Camille Wilson, Author of Free Spirit Cocktails
“I have not always been a drinker. I feel like I was a little late to get into the alcohol thing,” says Camille Wilson. She didn’t drink in college—she didn’t like the taste.
But when she later started graduate school in NYC during the craft cocktail movement, her intrigue grew. “They were making drinks with good quality alcohol, fresh ingredients like herbs and fruit, and for the first time, I started to understand all the hype around alcohol and cocktails,” she adds. Although she started to like alcohol, there were people in her life, like her mom, who weren’t into it. This sparked her desire to research drink recipes and try to recreate them for herself and her family sans alcohol.
Wilson is now known for her online cocktail platform, The Cocktail Snob, and in 2022, she released her first recipe book, Free Spirit Cocktails. The book offers 40 non-alcoholic drink recipes for home mixologists.
Her favorite recipe from the book is the Tonic Ricky because it surprises people. The mocktail includes tonic water, seltzer water, lime juice, simple syrup and bitters. “One of the reasons I like it is because when you think of the ingredients, it seems very basic and will not taste like anything,” says Wilson. “Those ingredients don’t seem like they go together, but when you put them together in a glass and stir it with ice, it’s so good.”
Wilson loves the shift happening on the beverage scene that removes the stigma for sober people who, for whatever reason, choose not to drink—and she takes pride in the fact that her book is contributing to this progress. “I hope it becomes a resource for people to refer to when they want something more complex [and non-alcoholic]. I want that to be an option.”
Corinne Brown, cofounder of Be Refreshed Beverage Company
In 2020, Corinne Brown and her business partner decided to give up alcohol to pursue a healthier lifestyle. But they found themselves missing the rituals of having a cold beer on a hot day or sipping a cocktail during a night out.
“We found quality N.A. options were unavailable at events, restaurants or local shops,” says Brown. So together, she and her cofounder, Patrick Smith, founded the South Carolina-based Be Refreshed Beverage Company, an education and non-alcoholic distributor.
The company helps restaurants, bars, lounges, bartenders and event spaces incorporate zero-proof and non-alcoholic products into their beverage programs or bars.
Brown has worked in direct sales her entire career, but what she loves about being an entrepreneur in the non-alcoholic industry is helping to change the narrative around drinking. “I get to get up each day to help give others the elevated options they want while working to normalize sobriety,” she says.
Rhonda Cammon, founder of Perfectly Cordial
Rhonda Cammon has worked as an R.N. for more than 20 years, and throughout her experience, she’s had several patients diagnosed with liver failure due to alcoholism. “As the beverage industry has embraced the spirit-free movement, it has opened the door for healthy conversation around alcoholism and health related to alcohol consumption,” says Cammon.
When Cammon started working as a bartender on the side, she thought of those patients. And when customers asked for alcohol-free options at the bar, she regretfully reported back that the only options were water or soda. This is where Cammon discovered there was an actual demand for mocktails. “I was compelled to create a product that would create an inclusive drinking environment for everyone,” she adds. “The way to create that was through the flavor.”
Cammon created Perfectly Cordial, fruit-forward mixers to help with the mixology experience at home. Perfectly Cordial provides layers of flavor in each bottle, with fruit as the first and main ingredient.
Anna Zesbaugh, founder of Hooch Booch and owner of Blind Tiger by Hooch Booch
After seeing growth in her company’s hard kombucha offerings, Anna Zesbaugh decided to create a non-alcoholic version to expand her fast-growing brand. “We continued to see a large increase in requests for a non-alcoholic option,” she says. “Since prohibition-era cocktails inspire us, it only felt fitting to add an N.A. option that is cocktail-inspired as well.”
Hooch Booch‘s new “Corpse Reviver” is a “boneless” (virgin) cocktail that is a botanical elixir utilizing the power of electrolytes combined with Rocky Mountain Spring Water. It was crafted to embody the prohibition era’s classic Corpse Reviver cocktail.
“We want to be looked at as a go-to better-for-you-beverage option,” says Zesbaugh. “So many people are choosing not to drink, and we want all sippers of Hooch Booch to feel a part of the party with or without alcohol.”
The Denver-based brand also recently opened a taproom, Blind Tiger by Hooch Booch, where guests can lounge and enjoy a slew of non-alcoholic libations like the Green Tea Spritzer, Blue Mojito, Vitamin C Fizz and cold-pressed juices
Pauline Idogho, founder of Mocktail Club
“The non-alcoholic sector is booming, and there’s a growing market of people looking for a solution that caters to their sophisticated adult palate—and that’s where Mocktail Club comes in,” says founder Pauline Idogho.
Idogho came up with the concept of Mocktail Club during her pregnancy, observing there were limited options for healthy yet sophisticated non-alcoholic beverages. She left corporate America to create her ready-to-drink mocktails that are inspired by international flavors and recreate the complexity of a great cocktail. “It’s great to hear customers state that our products have replaced wine or another alcoholic drink, and, as a result of our flavors, they can keep their goals of drinking less or choosing not to drink alcohol,” she says.
What Idogho loves about being a woman in the mocktail industry is the ability to reframe the narrative around spirit-free drinking and help shape the beverage industry, which has historically been dominated by men.
Abbie Romanul Zesbaugh, founder & CEO of Raising the Bar
It’s been four years of sobriety for Abbie Romanuel. She launched Raising the Bar, a DIY non-alcoholic cocktail kit, with her husband Devin just two years into her journey. “I was frustrated by the lack of great mocktail offerings and resources,” she says.
Each box, available for one-time purchase or via a monthly subscription, includes ingredients to mix up the drink of the month and its ingredients, a recipe card, and a bar tool or garnish. The company also created an online community of members who get access to video tutorials and additional information on the products included in the boxes.
Romanual’s here to assist anyone looking to transition into sobriety, but she’s particularly passionate about supporting women, who she believes are often entrenched in drinking culture to feel sexy, ease the obstacles of motherhood or fit into the corporate culture. “The choice to be alcohol-free feels like a wildly radical choice in a culture that fetishizes alcohol use,” she says. “I feel such pride and joy in helping others, especially women, find ways to enjoy the elements of drinking without the effects of alcohol.”