Booze | January 13, 2023 6:00 am

Rasāsvāda Is the Dry January Modifier You Need

A spiritual take on non-alcoholic booze, modeled after Italian amaro

Three bottles of Rasasvada, a non-alcoholic spirit
With three different expressions, you're bound to find a favorite
Rasasvada

What we’re drinking: Rasāsvāda, a new line of zero-proof “restoratives” inspired by Italian amaro

Where it’s from: The brand was founded by Connor W. Godfrey, a lifelong New Yorker formerly in private equity and who’s related to Joshua Kaiser, founder of Rishi Tea & Botanicals (which is important, see below)

Why we’re drinking this: For Dry January, we’re inundated with dozens of brands that attempt to mimic the flavors of whiskey, tequila, gin, etc., but they often fall short because, well, alcohol gives a lot of viscosity, mouthfeel and depth to cocktails that a non-alc version can’t easily replicate.

Thankfully, Rasāsvāda (Sanskrit for, roughly, the taste of bliss in the absence of all thought) is different. This line of 100% whole plant, additive/preservative-free, booze-free elixirs takes inspiration from ingredients used in Western herbalism and traditional Chinese medicine, as well as Italian amaro.

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“My journey began six years ago, I went through a bit of an inflection period in my life,” Godfrey says. “My cousin started a tea company about 25 years ago called Rishi Tea, one of the leading purveyors of tea. I used to visit him and he would explain why and how he was incorporating different plants and botanicals. In this difficult time, I started drinking a lot of these teas; it seemed to help manage my stress, and I saw this as an opportunity to help others going through a similar journey.”

If this sounds a bit hard to grasp, just think of the three flavors of Rasāsvāda as non-boozy “spirits” that can be used on their own, as the base for a mocktail or as a modifier. And yes, they can also be used in a boozy cocktail (there are plenty of recipes for all your drinking needs here).

We tried three of the Rasāsvāda releases on their own, with soda water and in a few boozy concoctions. All three have no added sugar and utilize more than 45 “rare and globally-sourced whole plant ingredients.”

How they taste: Admittedly, these drinks look a bit funky (brownish-purple in color), but don’t let that stop you. 

  • Ruby Artemisia: Featuring wormwood, maqui berry, Yunnan Pu’er tea, red wine grape skins, black koji-fermented green tea and artichoke leaf, this one is herbaceous on the nose and bitter and tangy on the palate with a dry finish. A bit like Cynar, it’s ideal simply with ice and club soda.
  • Rose Bergamot: With white ginseng, schisandra berry, rose petals, angelica archangelica and bergamot citrus oil, this one is equal parts earthy, bitter, floral and sweet (and you’ll get all those notes on the nose, too). It’s the standout and ideal as a modifier in cocktails — Godfrey suggests subbing it for dry vermouth. 
  • Black Ginger: Plum-like on the nose, this one (made with black ginger, burdock root, reishi mushroom, meshima mushroom, cardamom and Solomon’s seal root) has a bit of almost wood spice and a nice but not overpowering bitterness. It makes for a unique modifier in an espresso martini and was also great paired with a cacao rum.

Fun fact: Even with no preservatives, Godfrey says his line of drinks has two-year shelf stability.

Where to buy: You can find Rasāsvāda around New York or for sale online for $40-$75 per bottle.