Being conscientious about your alcohol consumption is in style. Try delicious NOPE mocktails, whether you’re in recovery or just cutting down.
I’ve long been stoic about liquids, sticking mainly to still water, sparking water, and coffee, preferring to get my calories from solid food. But as I write more about sober living, I’m beginning to embrace the festive aspect of mocktails. Instead of the merely utilitarian aspects of water (staying alive) and coffee (staying awake), they speak to slowing down and connecting to another person while savoring something out of the ordinary. At least, that’s what the best mocktails do. And the NOPE mocktails are pretty darn delicious. And more complex and interesting than simply sweet.
NOPE sent me samples of four drinks: strawberry basil smash, rosemary vanilla lemonade, raspberry lime ginger beer, and mango margarita with jalapeño. All the flavors are vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and 90 calories per can. And they’re made from recognizable ingredients. I liked the mango margarita the best, as the jalapeño was hot enough to make me slow down and think about it rather than gulping it like a sweet soda. My husband liked the raspberry lime ginger beer the best. But every NOPE mocktail was a household hit.
The Story Behind the NOPE Mocktails Brand
NOPE originated in founder Beth Ann Shaffer’s kitchen one Christmas Eve. “It was my ex-husband Bart’s first sober Christmas,” she told me in an interview. “I was hosting a Christmas Eve dinner and wanted the drinks served that night to go beyond your typical beverage options. I wanted the non-alcoholic drinks to be the star of the show.”
People loved her mocktails, but she spent too much of the night in the kitchen prepping and pouring instead of celebrating with her family.
“When Bart and I were cleaning up that night, I mentioned how crazy it is that people have to go through all this work for one great NA cocktail. I began to question why this process isn’t more attainable. Why isn’t there something in a can that we can pour over ice, garnish, and serve? Why are we stuck with seltzer water or mixers with unrecognizable ingredients?”
Suddenly, she decided to start her own line of canned no-alcohol drinks. The name came to her immediately. As she explained to Bart, “Because that’s what I had to say all evening when your family asked if there was alcohol in these. NOPE.”
Attractive and Funny Cans of Mocktails
Wanna wake up with a misspelled face tattoo? NOPE.
Wanna drunk text your ex? NOPE.
These messages are on the back of the pretty, brightly colored NOPE cans. That part of the brand design was really fun, Shaffer said. “We have all made mistakes fueled by alcohol, so coming up with the multitude of common questions was easy. Narrowing them down was harder,” she said. “We conducted tastings in local bars and restaurants, and when asking for feedback on flavors, we would ask people questions like, What’s the dumbest thing you‘ve done while under the influence? What don’t you miss about drinking? What have you done that you wish you could take back?”
Shaffer has plenty of material for future flavors but is still interested in more. So if you have an idea, contact her through the NOPE website.
I’d add, Wanna wake up with a stranger wearing only a concha belt? Wanna sleep on the doorstep because you lost your keys again? Wanna lose the only draft of the novel you’re writing? I could go on, but you get the idea.
Consumer Reaction to NOPE Mocktails
With NOPE, Shaffer solves the problem for people who want an appealing non-alcoholic drink that’s as easy as cracking open a beer. “NOPE is bold and bright in everything we do, from the taste down to the packaging and messaging,” Shaffer said. “Our reception from the market has been amazing.”
They love the taste and convenience, and the questions on the cans crack up her customers.
“Ultimately, our goal is to give people flavorful, alcohol-free options and make it easier for them to say NOPE, not drinking tonight.”
Sober Curious Movement
With things like dry January, sober October, and a sober curious movement, this is the perfect time for mocktails. “People’s ideas around drinking are changing, and I truly believe that sober curiosity will become a revolution versus a trend,” Shaffer said. “It’s definitely time for us to change the ideas we’ve been programmed to believe about alcohol and break the stigma associated with sobriety.”
Shaffer thinks it’s a positive thing when people take a closer look at the role alcohol plays in their lives. Instead of drinking from habit, they can decide whether drinking at this moment would enhance or detract from an experience. “We’re making more conscientious and deliberate decisions about our mental and physical health and the benefits of drinking less alcohol or not drinking alcohol at all.”
However, Shaffer herself is not anti-alcohol or even a teetotaler. “But I like having the choice, and I like not feeling like I have to defend it,” she said. “Social drinking has become so normalized that people find it more unusual when someone chooses not to drink. We shouldn’t have to explain our choice to drink or not drink any more than we should have to explain why we chose to have pasta over tacos for dinner.”
Where to Find NOPE Mocktails
Judging from the store locator on NOPE’s website, the small women-owned company has good distribution on the East Coast and is now trudging westward. Most of the states in the middle of the US are still NOPEless, and only folks in Seattle and San Francisco have any hope of finding a NOPE on the West Coast. Thank goodness for the internet. Here’s their shopping page.
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The Future of NOPE Mocktails
NOPE plans to broaden its distribution and expand its line with new flavors. “I see NOPE growing into a staple for parties and celebrations,” said Shaffer. “We need more choices than beer, wine, soda, or water. I would love to see NOPE in every grocery store, bar, and restaurant, even liquor stores.”
It’s just the kind of thing I’d like to bring to parties. It will blow away my friends who expect me to show up with the same old sparkling water. It is a free choice to drink or not to drink, so enjoy great mocktails. Have a favorite mocktail recipe? We’d love for you to share and tag us #WanderWithWonder on social media.