Hilary Marsh is a Covent Garden restaurateur and wine merchant who created Botonique in her kitchen when she couldn’t find an alcohol-free drink that tasted like the wine she knew and loved.
She said the launch of Botonique Crisp Dry White in 2016, "the botanical drink for wine lovers," was a hit, and it inspired her to develop more flavors. Botonique Blush launched this month and she has plans for a Robust Red for this winter as well as another white variety to follow.
The imitation wines have a dry taste and use no added sugars or sweeteners, and the Blush flavor has just 12 calories per champagne flute. The beverages are considered soft drinks, but are produced using a small amount of alcohol.
“Technically it’s a de-alcoholised drink because we have to use alcohol to extract both the flavor and the goodness from many of the botanicals. We then use reverse osmosis to remove the alcohol, before blending with fruit juice, Prelixir Nutrients and sparkling water,” Marsh said.
The idea behind the drinks is to serve consumers “who love their wine but wine doesn’t love them so much.”
Gap in market
After Marsh spent years enjoying wine socially and professionally at tastings, she said she wanted to take better care of her liver. She searched for an adequate alcohol-free wine in the UK but couldn’t find one she liked.
Marsh saw a gap in the market she could fill. According to her, more than 20% of UK adults now abstain from drinking alcohol and 41% are actively trying to reduce their alcohol consumption, primarily for health reasons.
Botonique is formulated with Prelixir Nutrients, a “unique blend of vitamins, minerals and amino acids which alcohol is known to deplete,” according to Marsh. The rise in health-conscious beverages that offer ‘better-for-you’ ingredients are an indication of the market demand for drinks like Botonique.
Global market research firm Mintel recently reported that the upcoming Gen Z generation is likely to consume less alcohol than their predecessors because of their health and wellness concerns.
Botonique is currently available on the company website, as well as on sites like Ocado, Dry Drinker and Borough Box. It can also be found in specialty shops in more than 30 counties across the UK.
Marsh is working to expand distribution of Botonique to meet the demands of consumers who want to purchase it from mainstream brick-and-mortar stores.
“Our mission is to save the UK’s liver, and that of the rest of the world, so we have a lot of work to do,” she said.