Curious Elixirs is one of our favorite ready-to-drink non-alcoholic cocktails. We're proud to sell it in The Zero Proof bottle store and sat down with John Wiseman in another article to uncover what makes him tick and hear what we can expect from this dynamic brand. You can read the full interview here.
If you're trying to find a full review of Curious Elixirs to find out what they taste like, here's The Zero Proof review of every currently available flavor (except No. 7, which is coming soon!):
Review of Curious Elixirs
Curious No. 1
The formula that started it all came about because Wiseman decided to be the change he wanted to see in the world. "It started with, 'Wow, I'd really love a non-alcoholic Negroni that gives my body a boost. That would be fantastic.' So that's how we ended up with a pomegranate rhodiola negroni." But Curious No. 1 isn't a straight up imitation of the classic cocktail, and for the better. "I wanted it to be lightly sparkling so it would open up some of the flavors a bit, and not be as sticky as a Negroni is," Wiseman said, and he's definitely succeeded.
The tiny, tongue tickling bubbles of Curious No. 1 are subtle (no big soda pop carbonation here), but the effect is delightful. Curious No. 1 is juicier than a traditional Negroni, with an intense Mediterranean-style orange flavor, with just enough of the peel's oil to balance the acidity of the fruit, paired with pomegranate, to produce a flavor that is both fresher and richer than the syrupy Campari and vermouth combo of the alcoholic version. Crisp fennel adds an absinthe note to the drink, making this a nice option for Sazerac lovers as well. Earthy rhodiola grounds the flavor as well as your mood; studies have shown that the adaptogen may reduce both stress and fatigue, making it a great option for happy hour, to calm you down without knocking you out.
Curious No. 2
Curious No. 2 starts with the refreshingly sweet and tart juice of fresh pineapple and lime, followed by a cheek flushing heat from ginger, ancho chile, and jalapeño that warms but doesn't burn out the palate. An unexpected touch of rosemary punches up the verdant note of green mandarin, while star anise and damiana's soft, chamomile like aroma bring out the floral side of the citrus.
Inspired by both the Margarita and the Dark and Stormy, the botanicals in the drink provide a double layered effect. "The great thing about Curious No. 2 is that the ginger is bringing you up, and the damiana is helping your body soothe," according to Wiseman. "The ginger gives you an almost immediate boost, within 15-20 minutes, but the damiana is intended to give you a kind of chill out an hour later, and it's pretty subtle. One of the active organic compounds in damiana is apigenin, which is the same organic compound that you find in a chamomile tea. It's soothing, but it doesn't necessarily make you tired, which is nice."
Curious No. 3
Fresh as the first flower shoot to burst through the snow, Curious No. 3 is early spring in a glass. A bare spritz of lemon and a hint of salinity bring out the intrinsic sweetness of cucumber, while juniper, gentian, and orange blossom bloom on the back of the tongue and into the nose, referencing the aromatics of the classic Corpse Reviver No. 2 cocktail. Lemon verbena adds a bright herbal sharpness, while a whisper of spearmint provides a cooling sensation without adding minty flavor.
Bracing, bright, and refreshing, No. 3 was specifically created in response to feedback from Curious customers who wanted a drink that was Whole30 compliant. Wiseman believes in serving as many non-alcoholic cocktail enthusiasts as he can. "There are people in our customer base across the country who really are focused on specific things for their diet, so we're trying to make options available for many different types of people."
Curious No. 4
The super citrus blend of deliciously bitter green mandarin and grapefruit peel balanced by sweet tart blood orange makes No. 4 taste like fresh squeezed Italian Riviera sunshine. Earthy herbs and spices such as rhubarb root and turmeric add depth, while tulsi (also known as Holy Basil) contributes an unusual but undeniably appealing candy note which Wiseman describes as "bubble gum-y."
When I said it made me feel nostalgic for the flavor of children's vitamins, Wiseman replied, "It does evoke a little bit of those childhood memories like 'What is that?' It's not hitting you over the head with it, but it's there." Tulsi is used in herbalism to reduce stress, while turmeric helps to fight inflammation and American Ginseng provides a cooling effect, as opposed to the warming effect of most Asian Ginsengs. This drink is quite literally a chill out tonic for hot summer weather, though I find it works equally well in the winter as to relieve the stifling heat of my New York City apartment's steam radiator.
Curious No. 5
Luscious, sophisticated, and rich, Curious No. 5 is luxurious, deep red velvet you can drink. Though it's described as a "smoked cherry chocolate old-fashioned", I love to pour Curious No. 5 into a big wine glass and sip it like a delicious and complex red wine. The subtle smoke, warming spice, juicy, dark red fruit flavor, and rich mouth feel are exactly what you would expect from a great New World Shiraz.
The drink works just as well when served as intended: over ice, with a twist of orange peel, and stirred for 5 seconds to open up the flavors. Unlike the spicy kick of Curious No. 2, the touch of cayenne here is slow and warming, and keeps it from going down too fast. Deep, midnight purple elderberry provides not just its immunity boosting antioxidant function, but adds a sophisticated edge to dark cherry juice, while the slightest night light spark of citrus balances acidity.
Bitter botanicals like cacao, gentian, chicory, and shatavari, a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for female reproductive health and menopause support, add sophisticated complexity. This formula is an absolute marvel.
Curious No. 6
Lighter than a piña colada but creamier than a Painkiller, Curious No. 6 takes the elements of traditional tropical cocktails and remixes them for a contemporary palette. Refreshing pineapple and lime are blended with just enough creamy coconut and oat milk for a sumptuous mouthfeel that is neither coconut water thin nor Coco Lopez milkshake thick, but right in the Goldilocks Zone: just right.
Molasses and oak extract reference the flavors of barrel-aged rum without the booze, while toasty nutmeg provides antioxidants, subtly elevates your mood, and adds a cozy spice element that makes this the crushable alternative to eggnog.
While I wouldn't go so far as to call this skincare on the rocks, there are skin protective and reparative ingredients included that also add to the drink's elegant flavor and texture: aloe adds a sultry slip to the texture while boosting collagen production, and the fragrant aroma of neroli also calms irritated and inflamed skin. Stock up before you hit the beach to stop sun damage from the inside out (but make sure to pair with SPF!).