Conversation with Bob Huitema the creator of Sobrii

What initially inspired you to reduce your alcohol consumption?
There were a couple of things that inspired it. I had a minor health issue back in 2017 and it was a combination of that health issue and getting to an age where I felt like I needed to make some changes.

There is a ton of information out there on how to improve your health, but one of the easiest ways you’ll keep seeing suggested is to reduce your alcohol consumption. I decided to take an active approach to my health by cutting down on alcohol.

The secondary thing that inspired me was that I got to a period of my life where I was being super creative and doing a ton of business and home renovations and other projects. I love cocktails but I hate hangovers. From a practical standpoint, I couldn't drink anymore and also work at all the things that I wanted to do.

I set out to simply reduce my alcohol consumption but once I was able to formulate Sobrii, I’ve found over time that I rarely drink at all anymore.

What are the biggest changes you see in yourself since you cut back on alcohol?
One of the best changes is you just get better sleep. Any amount of alcohol will upset your sleep cycle and when you can sleep a solid night, waking up every day is awesome.

The other big change is my health. I’m more resilient and have a quicker recovery time from common colds and flus. I had surgery just three months ago related to that 2017 health issue and my recovery time was incredible because I went in there in the absolute peak of health. I think that you can't overestimate what cutting down alcohol can do in that regard.

You live a much more active life. You're more productive. Mentally, there's a constant awareness and a sense of “being” that the drink-hangover-recover cycle interferes with.

What makes Sobrii different from other non-alcoholic spirits?
I’m not trying to create a new category in terms of taste for people. Gin and gin cocktails have been around for 200 years or more. I'm a big believer that things are the way they are because consumers like them that way.

Sobrii replicates the cocktail experience without alcohol. Some similar products are based around extracts, but I’m actually distilling this product so there’s a real traditional component to it. You can notice the difference in the taste.

What’s your favourite cocktail to make with Sobrii?
It changes over time, but my favourite one for the last month or so has been a take on the Moscow Mule called a Foghorn. It’s made with Sobrii and ginger beer.

I use Double Dutch in most of my cocktails and I love the Double Dutch ginger beer. It's very simple but I like the sharpness of the ginger that the Sobrii really highlights. To kick it up a notch, I also put in some sliced jalapeno.

When you drink it, you’d think you’re having a full-strength cocktail with alcohol when in fact you’re having an alcohol-free variation.

What are some of your alcohol-free home bar cart essentials?
Aside from Sobrii, you need a good selection of tonics. There’s been an explosion of premium tonics that have all kinds of flavour experiences, as well as a lot of good low-calorie and no-calorie options.

One of the reasons I picked a non-alcoholic gin alternative is because tonics are made to be mixed with gin. If they work with gin, they'll also work with Sobrii.

For a different experience, I also like to have bitters. I’ll use a premium regular tonic and mix in some bitters to give the cocktail a different taste profile. My favourite bitters are by Nickel 9 Distillery. I use their aromatic bitter quite often. They also have some other great ones like habanero, for example, that can add some kick to cocktails.

That’s a basic, non-alcoholic bar cart that would allow you to make a bunch of different cocktails for yourself and other people. You can find some combination of different tonics, bitters, and Sobrii that everyone will like.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a life with less alcohol?
Get yourself something that you like to drink so you don’t miss alcohol. I'm a fairly disciplined person but I am not disciplined enough to say that I don't need a beer while I'm barbecuing because it’s such a habit, or a cocktail if I'm out with friends because, again, it’s a habit.  

Alcohol is so prevalent and it's such a ritual that it’s going to be very difficult to cut down if you don’t find an alternative. It's about finding that go-to that feels sophisticated like alcohol, rather than a soda or a sugary drink. That's what I hear all the time about Sobrii from customers: This is now my go-to drink.


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