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Curious Elixirs wants to take its non-alcoholic cocktails overseas

an illustration of a drinking glass with a dollar symbol shaped straw sticking out of it

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

Curious Elixirs, the Brooklyn-based purveyor of booze-free cocktails, is looking for large global partners to work with it in other countries, founder JW Wiseman tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Better-for-you trends are driving broader consumer adoption and investor interest in food and beverage overall.

Zoom in: The ideal global partner would have an "in" on new markets and a willingness to invest some capital, Wiseman says.

  • Curious Elixirs is eyeing the United Kingdom and could enter the region in the next six to 12 months.

Context: Founded in 2015, the company has been running its first few years off of cash flow and has also worked with alternative lenders like e-commerce-focused Wayflyer to help finance larger production runs, Wiseman says.

Zoom out: The non-alcoholic beverage category generated about $565 million in sales last year, a 35% increase from the year prior, according to NIQ data.

How it works: Curious Elixirs' cocktails use adaptogens and herbs like blood orange from Sicily or holy basil from India designed to support bodily function while helping consumers unwind, Wiseman says.

State of play: Large beverage companies are getting in on the action.

  • AB InBev says its non-alcoholic beverage portfolio, which includes Budweiser Zero and Corona Cero, contributed to high-teens revenue growth last year.
  • Diageo launched an alcohol-free version of its rum brand Captain Morgan in the U.K. and a non-alcoholic spirit brand Seedlip.
  • "It's great when the big companies come in because it helps validate what we're doing. And it makes the general public more aware" of the category, Wiseman says.

Reality check: One of the largest non-alcoholic beverage retailers, Boisson, closed its stores and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, leaving the lights on for its e-commerce shop and wholesale operations for now.

What's next: Curious Elixirs hopes to tread new ground in specialty grocers, breweries and wineries, as well as in more alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage shops.

  • The company aims to enter into bigger grocers and retailers in 2025, Wiseman says.
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