Insights into an alcohol free lifestyle from the founder of AF Drinks
Are you in need of a drinking habit reboot? Perhaps you’ve had one too many black-outs or an experience with tequila that has made you swear off alcohol for good. Even though lemon-lime and bitters and raspberry cokes slap, they don’t quite hit the same, especially if you’re at an event where others are consuming alcohol.
That’s where Lisa King, founder of AF Drinks, comes in. Lisa is an Auckland Uni alumna and social-impact entrepreneur starting Eat My Lunch in 2015 and AF Drinks in 2020. AF Drinks is an alcohol-free drinks brand intended to help people explore and enjoy an alcohol-free lifestyle.
It all started when Lisa connected her bouts of vertigo to her beloved gin-and-tonics and decided to give up the drink for a while. She quickly realised there were very few good alternatives to alcoholic drinks. Either they didn’t taste that great or they were really expensive. There was a clear gap in the market—not just for a nice, grown-up AF drink, but for a brand that could lead an attitude shift.
What is the Sober Curious Movement?
The Sober Curious Movement is all about breaking down the social barriers and stigma that comes with not drinking, especially when out. To be made to feel that you can’t have fun or enjoy a party just because you don’t want to drink shouldn’t be the norm. We are giving people an insight into the AF lifestyle and showing that you don’t have to give anything up at the same time.
Why might uni students be interested in AF Drinks?
I think it’s safe to say that uni culture still heavily revolves around drinking, but with the rapid increase in awareness around the damages and wellness issues alcohol can cause, young people are becoming more interested in prioritising their health. AF Drinks is a great alcohol-free alternative for students looking for a substitute drink for their night out. We are actually starting to work with more uni groups and associations by sponsoring social events and giving students a taste of the sober curious movement.
What have been some of the challenges of starting AF Drinks?
We didn’t want to just create a regular alcohol free alternative, we wanted to offer the same sophisticated experience of an alcoholic drink but without the alcohol. This required a lot of R&D work with flavor technologists. We also put in a lot of time and development into our own ingredient called Afterglow, derived from all natural spices it gives the same warmth and kick at the back of your throat just like when drinking alcohol.
What does the process of creating an alcohol-free, but alcohol-like product involve?
We start with an original alcoholic drink that we like the taste of, then work with our experienced food tech team to create those same flavors from natural ingredients. We also add our Afterglow to give that final kick. Only when we are completely satisfied with the flavor and product will we then launch it to the consumer.
What are your goals for AF Drinks?
We want to continue spreading the Sober Curious Movement and have a positive impact in the change to drinking culture and alcohol consumption globally, while continuing to develop new, awesome AF drinks!
What’s your favourite AF Drinks product?
For us it has to be the classic G&T seeing as that was the drink we first set out to replicate and what seeded the idea for AF Drinks.
Where can we find AF Drinks products?
We are stocked in supermarkets, liquor stores, and an array of online outlets across New Zealand as well as our own website AF-DRINKS.com and of course The Curious AF Bottle Shop located in Ponsonby Auckland throughout July.