Professor David Nutt is a different sort of mixologist and modern drink maker. He is the Chair of Drug Science and former UK government’s drug czar. He is also the author of numerous books on the effects of alcohol on the brain.
A past President of the Brain Council and the British Association of Psychopharmacology, he turned plant alchemist and invented “Sentia”, a drink that tastes like a cross-between a bloody Mary and mulled wine which has been specially formulate to act on your inner GABA.
“A receptor, it is a fundamental neurotransmitter regulating all the major hormone systems and neurotransmitters in the body. It is the facilitator of human connectedness, relaxation and sociability,” he explains. “ It controls conviviality”.
is renowned for a sense of lightness and relaxatio
“My life’s work has been to find safer drinking alternatives for adults,” Says Prof. Nutt whose GABA labs are based in Bristol.
“SENTIA represents the third way. Not alcohol but not non-alc. But a functional drink that offers a ‘sociable effect’ to drinkers, enabling them to be their best selves. The result of investigative clinical research, it is a GABA- promoting proprietary blend of botanicals designed to mimic the effects of a small glass of wine or half pint of beer. And wears off after forty-five minutes. It doesn’t affect decision-making.”
Nutt attended Bristol Grammar School and Downing College, Cambridge before his clinical training at London’s Guy’s Hospital. He has worked on the Independent Science Committee on Drugs and is deputy head of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London. He has also been an advisor to the Department of Heatth and the Home Office and served on the Committee on Safety of Medicines.
The AA movement is attracting new fans every day. “Alcohol-Adjacent” drinks are on an all-time high and adaptogenic beverages are buzzing.
The latest buzzwords are “pleasure innovation”, “ plant-based social elixirs” and “mood elevators.”
Several British companies are offering “exciting social alternatives” and “social companions”.
Developed by co-founders Tatiana Mercer (BarChick), Meeta Gournay and Dash Lilley, Three Spirit produces “Livener” which includes red berries, guayusa and guava leaf with natural friendly caffeine, L-Theanine from green tea and ginseng, “Social Elixir” with lion’s mane mushroom, yerba mate, tulsi ( south Asian holy basil), cacao and damiana and “Nightcap” which contains restorative plants and herbs like turmeric, ashwagandha and lemon balm, used for centuries to induce mellowing.
“This is not an imitation of an alcoholic drink. It’s something that stands out on its own, enhances cocktails and creates a new option,” explains Head Alchemist Lilley. “We achieve this through an obsessive focus on maximizing the functional potency of our drinks, carefully extracting the active compounds from the highest-grade, ethically-sourced plants. Our process, Botanical Alchemy, is complex, delicate and takes time.”
Bartenders, Robin Honhold (formerly of Mr Lyan, Dandelyan), Tristan Stephenson and Thomas Aske from Fluid Movement (Black Rock, Worship Street) have worked alongside Michael Heinrich, Head of the Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy at UCL School of Pharmacy, to create “drinks that bring function and a unique experience to the rapidly growing non-alcoholic drinks sector.”
Says Stephenson : “Soon it won’t be enough for a bar to simply offer a non-alcoholic drink that looks and tastes similar to its alcoholic counterpart. Three Spirit allows us to leverage the opportunity that exists between alcohol and no-alcohol by using functional ingredients that can subtly affect an individual’s state of mind, without the impact of excessive alcohol consumption.”
“What your favourite tipple?” could soon also be “What’s your preferred proprietary molecular blend?”
The CBD sector is worth £690m a year. Juniper-led and fruit-forward have had their day. How about endorphin-led and feel-good forward? How about going out for a few noon-tranicals, shipping some seed-to-lip and enjoying some of the latest smart socializing and hip functional beverages.
London-based start-up TRIP co-founder Olivia Ferdi comments : “Our mission has always been to share calm in the everyday chaos.”
Olivia and husband Daniel Khoury met at Cambridge University and subsequently left careers in law and finance (Daniel worked at Goldman Sachs) for the world of hemp. The business came about when Daniel injured a knee and faced the prospect of walking down the aisle with crutches. CBD helped his rehab and reception dancing.
The couple now invite you to join the Good Energy Gang and Be Kind To Your Mind.
Alternatively, you can sign up at Hammersmith’s Euphoria Dealer Institute. Alexander Jakobi and Jean-Éric Vergne are behind the hemp-based, alcohol-free ,molecularly master-blended spirit , “Edi Spirited Euphoria.”
Says Vergne : “ Edi ‘spirits’ replace the effects of alcohol and will be a key driving force behind the future of socialising and mindful drinking. It’s made from the “real” hemp plant (cannabis sativa) and a complex blend of high-quality, natural, active and uplifting ingredients.”
Alcohol-free should not be fun-free. A 50mls double serve of Spirited Euphoria is said to give a “feel-good” sensation which builds incrementally. “Put simply, we’re on a mission to find new ways to feel good without intoxication,” said Jakobi.
“Modern drinkers want more choice, sometimes preferring non-alcoholic drinks for certain occasions and at certain times, but not necessarily wanting to forgo that unwinding feeling.”
By the way, Sentia is a Latin word popular in the seventeenth century. It evolved into words like sentient, sensory and sensual.