busyfood.net – All of the Bubbles, None of the Booze

This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.

I don’t drink cocktails before 6:00. This is not a hard and fast rule, and weekends are sometimes exceptions, but for the most part I’m not mixing myself an Americano until evening rolls around. This specificity, to me, is what makes cocktails so delightful—they’re beverages for a time and place, like eggnog (December 1st to 25th and not a day after) or date shakes (I-10 between Cabazon and Indio, California).

So when I’m taking a break from drinking and 6 p.m. rolls around, what I do not want is another can of the off-brand seltzer I’ve been gulping throughout the workday. I want something special, festive, cocktailesque to help me transition from day to night. Right now, that something is Ghia’s Le Spritz, a sparkling canned bev with all of the bitter complexity of an aperitivo but none of the booze.

Le Spritz—which, according to my high school French, means “The Spritz”—is the single serving, ready-to-drink offering from Ghia, an impeccably branded, non-alcoholic apéritif that packs a seriously bitter bite. I tend to cut Ghia’s original offering with tonic or Spindrift, but with Le Spritz, all I have to do is pop the 8 oz. can and grab my favorite rocks glass. The liquid is the color of a dusky, unfiltered rosé, and the bubbles are present but gentle. Like any good pre-dinner drink, Le Spritz whets your appetite. There’s sweetness from Riesling grape juice and fig concentrate; herbaceous and citrusy notes thanks to yuzu, lemon balm, and rosemary; and a bitter wallop from gentian root, a flowering Alpine plant showcased in apéritifs like Suze and Salers. It’s so complex that it feels like a thoroughly adult beverage, even though it’s zero proof.

No one likes the feeling of deprivation—this is why gluten-free croissants exist, however ill-advised—so when I’m not drinking, I set myself up for success. Sure, I could stick to sparkling water, but why deny myself when Ghia’s Le Spritz fills that cocktail-shaped hole in my heart?

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