Functional cocktails: Industry's next big thing

“By taking these cocktails we love so much, and packing them with healthy ingredients that we may not normally have or don’t have enough of, it means not only do we have delicious drinks that are fun to make, fun to look at and fun to drink, but we also have functional drinks. Imagine having a night of binging out on cocktails and actually feeling better and healthier the next day. Having your skin glow, your breath not stink and your body function properly.”


Vidal recently began working with the Endorphin Dealer Institute (EDI), which is a producer of non-alcoholic distilled endorphin spirits. Its first release, Spirited Euphoria, is made from hemp and a blend of natural and active ingredients including hemp terpenes, cannabidiol isolate, nootropics and adaptogens.

Jean-Éric Vergne, EDI co-founder, says: “Despite initial industry scepticism, we see a place for feel-good spirits without alcohol. Our non-alcoholic distilled endorphin-led spirits replace the effects of alcohol and will be a key driving force behind the future of socialising and mindful drinking.”

As EDI’s mindful drinking advocate, Vidal now creates cocktails with Spirited Euphoria, which is said to trigger feelings of pleasure and relaxation, without the downsides of alcohol.

“I want my drinks to tell me how I’m going to feel, not just how they taste,” adds Vidal. “In the past I’ve actually created menus based on emotion, which suggests how each drink will make you feel, and I can imagine this becoming a more regular approach in bars with non-alcoholic serves.”

Right now functional drinks go largely hand-in-hand with the low/ no sector because categorically some ingredients aren’t suited to be mixed with alcohol. For example, in the US alcoholic beverages infused with CBD have been pulled from the market until further research has been carried out on its effects. Vidal believes the use of alcohol alongside these perceived healthy ingredients shouldn’t fall under the functional drinks category. In Japan whisky is commonly mixed with green tea, which is, of course, full of antioxidants and other fancy healthy words, making it perhaps a better way to consume whisky than with cola, for example, but it doesn’t therefore constitute a healthy drink.

Vidal adds: “I think when it comes to claiming the title of functional drinks, the vast majority will have to be alcohol free because, regardless of how many nutrients and positive ingredients you’re ingesting, you can’t really claim health benefits when adding alcohol.


“Bartenders have always been credited with shaping what we drink. But actually non-alcoholic drinks was a pull from consumers and I don’t see this changing. They will continue to demand more options from the movement.

“Therefore I think one of the biggest challenges moving forward will be the education of not just consumers, but bartenders too. I find there is a resistance from some people behind the bar when alcohol isn’t involved, but as the demand for more alternatives continues to grow, this attitude will change.

“And the cool thing is that there is still so much to learn. When it comes to adaptogens, we’ve barely scraped the surface. Ashwagandha, for example, is an amazing herb which helps relieve stress and the reishi mushroom is good for cleansing the liver.

“I’m just super-excited by this movement of functional drinks because the possibilities right now are endless. It’s no longer just removing the alcohol and telling people to drink more mindfully, but adding to the experience and giving consumers something more.”

While the complex language used in the functional drinks sector will sound alien to many consumers and bartenders around the world, the concept of enhancing your experience from a non-alcoholic serve will be a major attraction to those looking to cut down their alcohol intake.

Given the right level of education and being presented in a social way through cocktails, these new endorphin-led spirits such as EDI’s Spirited Euphoria could take off in the same way non-alcoholic spirits have over the past few years - just don’t rely on them to cure Covid.