PAID CONTENT – This article has been written by myself and paid for by Sobreo, and contains my honest opinion of this product.
Sobreo is a Canadian brand of mixers created by Mr Kirk Reynolds (a name not to be confused with Kirk Douglas, or Bert Reynolds, as I have done several times…or even Ryan Reynolds, come to think of it). His name has a good ring to it, and so does the name of his brand. It suggests no/low and you’d be right, but hey, these can also be used for boozy drinks too, and well, anything else you want really.
That’s because Sobreo is an incredibly versatile product. There are currently six flavours in the range, and with these you can make anything, and I mean anything. The website suggests mixing with most spirits, alcohol or non-alcoholic spirits, even soda water hot beverages like tea and coffee, and interestingly, neat over ice.
Kirk kindly sent me some in the post as of course, I need to try products to write on them, and I’ll admit, I was surprised at six 12 oz (340ml) bottles arriving in the post. I wondered with the flavours, that perhaps bitters could have achieved the same effect, but these products are not just meant to be mixed, they are meant to be enjoyed on their own too, a massive claim for a no/low product.
I should clarify here that I’m treating this as a no/low product as Sobreo is 100% alcohol free, and sometimes we need a framework to understand things. But there is much more to it than that. Sobreo is not necessarily here to be a no/low product, it doesn’t even state it on the bottle. It ticks that box for sure, but its more of an ingredient. You can drink this as a non-alcoholic drink, you can make non-alcoholic mocktails, you can make alcoholic cocktails. Attempting to cover so many bases will often result in a product that doesn’t really hit any, but Sobreo has absolutely nailed it.
I did suggest to Kirk that one of the largest challenges he may face is the broadness of his audience, as it often pays to have a focus. He explained that there was a method to his madness, as his goal was to make a complex mixer you can mixer with almost anything as a healthier alternative to many sugar or aspartame filled beverages. He gave an example of replacements for sugar and cream in coffee, replacing liqueurs in cocktails and fruit juices in mocktails and explained that it is less about “just” mixing with alcohol and more to do with being able to mix a healthier alternative into a variety of day-to-day beverages.
This is an interesting direction for me. Whilst we have seen growth in the areas of no/low, Kirk has spotted that sometimes the alternatives aren’t always much better for you, and whilst drinking less on the alcohol front is one thing, drinks laden with sugar and sweeteners seems to be the most common alternative.
No one would suggest giving up alcohol for a month to drink large amounts of cola because it’s healthier for you. continues Kirk, and he does have a point. If you spend all of Sober October on sugary replacement drinks, then you’re probably going to finish the month with a hankering for sugar.
So, Kirk wanted to create a healthier alternative, and one that is versatile enough to work on all sorts of ways, even on its own, and that’s something that I find very interesting, and ambitious. As someone who’s judged no/low categories over recent years, something I have noticed is that there are a lot of attempts out there that are made heavily concentrated in order to mix well and emulate a boozy drink. What we’re looking at with Sobreo is a product that doesn’t market itself as a ‘replacement’, but a ‘refined drinking experience’ that stands on its own two feet, happy on it’s own, as well as mixed. As I write this, I’m sipping slowly on the Tuscan Juniper. I will say I found the vegetable glycerine foundation delivers a fantastic mouth feel, although it is quite rich and sweet, neat. With a cube of ice melting however, it’s a very moreish drink with wonderful complexities coming through. It’s not just Tuscan juniper in the mix, there are also elements of thirty other organic spices, herbs, plants, mushroom and more. So here we have all the ingredients of a gin…without alcohol and without the all confusing labelling. It’s delicious, with ice, and with sparkling water. It’s a great alternative to a gin, and it doesn’t mention gin anywhere on the bottle.
Bearing all this in mind, it is the case that not many people drink Sobreo neat with ice. It is on the whole treated more as a mixing ingredient. But, I think it’s important to establish that it tastes pretty darn good on it’s own. A fact which only bodes well to its mixing potential.
There are six flavours in the range:
Vietnamese Star Anise
As the name suggests, these are well sourced, premium extracts in the formulations, and it certainly tastes like it. Every one of these is done well. Cinnamon is a botanical that can easily be overdone and yet with a splash of sparkling water in the Indonesian Cinnamon, I have a drink that is rich, complex and weighty, a wonderful evocation of the special experience of drinking a good spirit without at all trying to be one. Colour me impressed!
The French Gentian is gentle, well rounded, it’s bitter edges softer than expected. This would mix beautifully in white Negroni, although it makes for a fantastic spritz. These are incredibly well-made drinks and effective ingredients that can add a real depth and twist of flavour on any spirit you can think of. They are all oak aged and made with glacier water. The attention to quality is evident throughout.
But how does Sobreo hold up in alcoholic drinks? Very nicely! Kirk suggested a couple of ‘healthy option’ boozy drinks to try. Firstly, 2 oz of Gin with 2 oz of Sobreo Tuscan Juniper and freshly squeeze 1/2 a lime. This was suggested as an equivalent to a G&T with approx 255 less calories and 16g less sugar per drink. Mixed with ice, I’d say this alludes nicely to a Gimlet. The Sobreo adds a wonderful extra level of complexity as well as providing the weight of a sugary tonic. It’s delicious as a short sipper, and easily lengthened with sparkling water to make a long, refreshing drink.
Another suggestion is 2 oz of Tequila with 2 oz of Sobreo Valencia Orange and freshly squeezed 1/2 a lime. And you guessed it! This a healthy option for the ever-popular Margarita, offering 100 less calories, 36g less sugar and 40% less alcohol. Now I don’t know about you, but I am partial to a regular than occasional margarita and I was curious as to how this compared. Well let me tell you, I am in love! It’s fresh and bright, and hits the mark splendidly. Well worth a try for any tequila or mezcal fans.
I should also add that Sobreo is about to level up. The next batch, scheduled for release on 1st November, will be clean labelled, GMO free and Kirk says he has “added a lot more adaptogens, botanicals and 1 superfood (either Goji or Wheatgrass) to each flavour, they taste the same but are again much healthier for you”.
And with Sobreo retailing at around £16.00 for a 12 oz (340ml) bottle, I’d say this is great value for an elevated drinking experience, which is what I believe no/low should be. Once opened the bottle will stay good for 12 weeks which is more than enough time to experiment and enjoy, and I should imagine much longer than you would need to finish the bottle. And, with only 20 calories and 8g carbohydrates, zero sugar and zero alcohol per drink, (on average, depending on what how much you use, it still delivers a rich, flavourful and velvety experience, both on its own and however you choose to use it, the possibilities are endless!
Head to the Sobreo site to order individual bottles or the set.