Crafted for use in cocktails, Ritual can be swapped with traditional spirits to make non-alcoholic versions of classic recipes. The company was founded by three friends in Chicago and launched its two flagship products – a gin alternative and a whiskey alternative – in September 2019.
Diageo is making a minority investment in the company via its Distill Ventures unit, its accelerator for new and growing brands. One of Distill’s early investments was in pioneering non-alcoholic spirits brand Seedlip in 2015; and around 25% of the unit’s investments are in non-alcoholic beverages. Ritual, however, is the first public non-alcoholic brand from the US to join Distill’s non-alcoholic portfolio.
Retail Zero Proof’s products are available in local Chicago retailers, bars and Michelin-starred restaurants as well as via Amazon and its own website. When it launched in September, Ritual sold out of its projected six-month supply of product in its first five weeks.
According to a 2019 Distill Ventures data study, 58% of consumers are drinking more no-and low-abv drinks than last year, and 55% of the most influential bartenders in New York, Los Angeles and London believe the no-and low-alcohol trend will continue to grow within the next 12 months.
“In 18 months, we predict non-alcoholic options will be on every menu and the shelves of every grocery store,” said Marcus Sakey, founding partner and chief brand officer of Ritual Zero Proof. “Americans want more choice, and Ritual Zero Proof is all about more – more flavor, more moments, more life, that is. It's the only American-made spirit alternative to echo the taste, smell and burn of a spirit – without the alcohol or calories."
The Distill investment will support the brand’s move into retail; as well as help drive its growth across the US in its direct-to-consumer business. The founders and current investors of Ritual will retain majority ownership and continue to run the business independently.