Portland has always had a complicated relationship with our neighbor to the South, and jokes about Californians invading the Rose City are as common here as rainy days. But at Wellspent Market we love the Golden State for a number of reasons (Meyer lemons, the California Raisins, and date shakes come to mind), including a pair of companies that make some of our go-to non-alcoholic drinks. Approaching the industry from different viewpoints, Betera and Ghia each deliver unique takes on the famous aperitif traditions encountered throughout the mediterranean, delivering food-friendly and decidedly grown up libations perfectly suited to our modern, more thoughtful, age.
After working together in the kitchen of acclaimed Jean Georges restaurant Perry Street in Manhattan, Betera co-founders Nick Benz and Paul Eschbach initially went their separate ways; Benz to the bucolic settings of the California wine industry, Eschbach to the hustle and bustle of Shanghai and Hong Kong, where he led Michelin-starred kitchens as an Executive Chef.
They reunited in San Diego, putting their combined decades of culinary experience together to launch Betera in 2019. Born out of a desire for a healthier alternative to alcohol-based drinks that still felt special and elevated, they developed a line of 3 sophisticated, botanically flavored drinks that employ real ingredients and use only 4 grams of sugar per serving. Refreshingly nuanced and pleasantly, slightly bitter, they’re a great stand-alone alternative to “traditional” cocktails.
Growing up in Lyon, France imbued in Mélanie Masarin a devotion to delicious food and drink, so when she began to reconsider her relationship to alcohol, the glaring lack of thoughtfully considered zero-proof options on the market sparked the beginning of an idea. But she didn’t want to sermonize or tangle with the associated stigmas of sobriety, so she founded Ghia to extend “an invitation for someone to have a drink in their hand and feel like they’re a part of the social environment,” even if that drink happens to be alcohol-free.
Utilizing a complex recipe of botanical extracts, citrus, and aromatic spices, Ghia’s signature Aperitif is assertive in it’s bitterness, recalling a yuzu-spiked Negroni sipped under the shade of a parasol on a rocky Mediterranean coastline. Recently, Ghia introduced Le Spritz and Spritz Ginger; sparkling, portable versions of the original recipe, they’re perfect for tossing into a tote bag and popping open at your favorite picnic spot.