Good “DRY” Times 

By Griffin Nelson
Photos by Andrew Thomas Lee

For thousands of years, alcohol was a necessary part of almost every civilization. The fermentation process would kill potential bacteria, making it often the safer drink before water purification methods were invented. Each region created a beverage of choice based on what was available — honey, grapes, malt, etc. — and the resulting beverage would come to be part of their cultural identity. 

Yet, as the world developed and the necessity subsided, enjoyment for these beverages has remained. Most people will admit that they enjoy a glass of wine with lasagna, cocktails with friends or a cold beer after working in the yard. 

But, what’s next for a world who loves the taste of mixed drinks without the need of alcohol? Native Augustan Sean Goldsmith has a plan to make the growing market of non-alcoholic alcohol more accessible. 

Photo of Sean Goldsmith.

What originally started as a personal break from drinking turned into a burgeoning business. “I flew back from a long weekend in Miami and woke up and realized, ‘Hey I’m tired.’ So, I didn’t drink that day and it changed my life.”

After chatting with friend and future co-founder Trevor Wolfe, the pair commiserated over the fact that despite the positive benefits of giving up alcohol, there just weren’t a lot of great options. So, they decided to broaden their search, chronicling their finds on their blog The Zero Proof. “We discovered this whole world of premium adult non-alcoholic beverages,” says Goldsmith. As the blog expanded and built an audience, companies would send the team samples to try, exposing them to the reaches of what the industry could offer. 

It wasn’t long before The Zero Proof became the top resource for non-alcoholic drinks, working with companies around the world to help them meet the growing demand in the United States. Goldsmith notes, “What we’re seeing as we work with companies to create programs, is it unlocking a huge demand that they didn’t even know was there because people weren’t asking … But people go out, and it’s an occasion. They want something sophisticated and interesting. And when you go to cheers, you don’t feel like the odd man out.”

At thezeroproof.com, categories for ready-to-drink cocktails can be found alongside whiskey and bourbon-inspired beverages, red, white and sparkling wines, and even those created by women founders — all without a drop of alcohol.

Seen in the February/March 2024 issue of Augusta magazine. 

Have feedback or a story idea? Our publisher would love to hear from you!

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