This change is driven by the rise of brands like Olipop and Liquid Death, which have set the stage for a new trend. Meagan Loyst, the 26-year-old founder of Gen Z VCs, a global collective of young investors, students, entrepreneurs, and founders, has observed this shift in her professional network. She notes that even Gen Z individuals, who are now at most 26 years old, are increasingly choosing not to consume alcohol.
A significant reason for this shift is the association of alcohol with anxiety, abuse, and vulnerability, with 41% of Gen Z feeling this way, according to the BBC. This trend isn’t limited to Gen Z alone but extends to the tech scene in Los Angeles.
Melati: A New Non-Alcoholic Botanical Spirit
One startup capitalizing on this trend is Melati, founded by Lorin Winata at the age of 30. Melati is not your typical alcoholic beverage but a non-alcoholic botanical spirit that offers an inclusive alternative to traditional drinks. Winata’s unique approach involves a cold extraction in water for six weeks, avoiding the use of ethanol. The drinks are crafted from a blend of 20 ingredients for a fresh flavor and 25 ingredients for a classic, incorporating Asian botanicals used in tonic drink remedies. This blend aims to provide a complex flavor profile and a satisfying experience, perfect for social settings within the tech industry.
Leisure Project: Elevating Hydration
Steve Michaelsen, a 29-year-old former digital brand manager at Nike, noticed the importance of hydration when he and his brother struggled to stay focused and energized during the early days of the COVID pandemic. This realization led to the creation of Leisure Project, a non-alcoholic hydration drink with a unique electrolyte complex. Unlike traditional brands loaded with sugar and sodium, Leisure Project focuses on essential minerals like magnesium, potassium, chlorides, and trace minerals, with minimal sodium. It also incorporates functional ingredients like L-Theanine and Ashwaganda to uplift mood. This innovative approach makes it a go-to choice for those looking to stay refreshed and focused, and some even use it as a substitute for alcohol.
XICAMA: Turning Jicama into a Beverage
Mona Sharma, a former luxury cosmetics professional who underwent two heart surgeries due to anxiety and sleep issues, found her inspiration in Ayurvedic practices and the use of jicama in her diet. This realization eventually led to the creation of XICAMA, a brand that offers delicious, non-alcoholic drinks with jicama as a key ingredient. Partnering with renowned mixologists, Barlab, the brand introduced three unique flavors, unknowingly setting themselves up to become the official beverage of Coachella in 2019, where they achieved record-breaking sales. While their expansion into the hospitality industry was affected by COVID, XICAMA has still thrived, meeting the demand for non-alcoholic beverages in California while ensuring a delightful and enjoyable experience.
In conclusion, Los Angeles‘s tech and startup culture is witnessing a significant shift towards non-alcoholic beverages, aligning with the changing preferences of younger generations and their focus on well-being and mental clarity. Startups like Melati, Leisure Project, and XICAMA are at the forefront of this trend, offering innovative, non-alcoholic options that cater to a growing audience seeking healthier and more enjoyable alternatives to traditional alcoholic drinks.