RTD brand Free AF makes US debut

by Georgie Collins

New Zealand-based ready-to-drink (RTD) brand Free AF has launched its collection of alcohol-free canned cocktails in the US.

Free AF was created by New Zealand entrepreneur Lisa King in 2020. King, a New Zealander of the Year 2019 finalist, conceived the brand when she realised she was suffering from vertigo every time she consumed alcohol, but couldn’t find a suitable non-alcoholic alternative. “I didn’t like the idea that I was missing out on social occasions or tasty cocktails simply because I was choosing not to drink,” said King. “The non-alcoholic options were really boring, especially if you’re not a beer drinker. I wanted to give people more exciting options when it came to the decision not to drink – whether temporarily or permanently – and so AF was born.” Free AF is made with afterglow, a 100% natural botanical extract made in New Zealand, that is said to mimic the pleasure of drinking alcohol. “Afterglow is a remarkable botanical extract, because it gives the same sensation of an alcoholic beverage, but without any alcohol,” King explained. “It gives that kick when you drink it and then that warming sensation people are familiar with, but then they’re safe to drive afterwards.” The Free AF collection is composed of four non-alcoholic cocktails: Apero Spritz, Cuba Libre, Paloma and Vødka Spritz. Each 250ml can is low in calories and sugar, and is gluten-free. AF is the first alcohol-free spirit brand to be served on the airline carrier Air New Zealand. In November, King opened New Zealand’s first alcohol-free bottle shop in Auckland, called The Curious AF Bottle Shop. Furthermore, King hosts the Drunk AF podcast, which she created as part of a larger mission to create a greater conversation and community for the sober-curious, and to normalise an alcohol-free lifestyle. King said: “Our podcast, Drunk AF, was born out of the incredible conversations we were having around sober curiosity. We are creating a community of cool, confident and creative people who feel their best when they’re not drinking. “None of us are 100% ourselves when we drink, and some worse than others, so AF is designed to help people be their best selves, undiluted." The four flavour variations are now available to purchase in the US. Each 12-pack case retails for US$39, and can be purchased online from free-af.co and on Amazon. AF will also be available in Sprouts and other retailers from March 2023. New research recently found that ‘enforced abstinence’ during Dry January is causing British consumers to drink more in the months following to ‘make up for lost time’.

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