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NYT: Pleasantly Bitter & Thoroughly Grown-Up

This piece originally appeared in the New York Times on 8/14/20. Please click here to read the full article.

Shelley Elkovich, a founder of For Bitter For Worse, which began in January, put the emphasis right in the name. “I enjoy robust drinks, and I wanted to signal that in order to find my people,” she said, explaining that the bitterness comes from dandelion root as well as gentian. “You can see it either as an invitation or a warning.”

She and her husband, Jeff Heglie, currently make three bottled nonalcoholic cocktails in Portland, Ore.: the tart, sparkling Eva’s Spritz, made with both rhubarb root and juice; the Saskatoon, which Ms. Elkovich thinks of as a red wine alternative, made with the Saskatoon berry, black pepper and Douglas fir tips; and the Smoky No. 56, which started as a dare. Could she make a nonalcoholic drink that conjured associations of whiskey? After 55 tries, yes.

Ms. Elkovich shared a note from one of her customers, a woman who just achieved four months of sobriety after a years-long struggle with alcohol. “We’ve just seen our friends for the first time, and I’ve been feeling a little down as I join others who are drinking,” the woman wrote by email. “Your drinks give me hope and inspiration again. Why can I not have a neat little bar in my house, where I whip up fancy little cocktails and have neat glasses and the works? I most definitely can!”

Nondrinkers — for life, for the month, for the night, for this round — might rejoin the virtual happy hour, after all. And, eventually, a real one.

Featured post image by Michelle Pearl Gee.


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