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BITTERS: Tasting Notes | Curious Elixirs, A Curiously Delicious Pairing

There’s a new wave of sober-curiosity taking over our increasingly health conscious society, and the beverage industry is embracing it.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in consumers who are looking for ways to live better, healthier lives which often means looking for alcohol alternatives. Sodas contain unwanted sugars and empty calories. Juices can contain more calories than we may realize.

Enter the craft beverage… in place of alcohol. In recent years, spirit-free cocktails have burst into the limelight. The pre-made cocktail in single-serving sizes is also gaining traction. A pre-packaged Moscow mule or a canned Negroni can be found among typical offerings in liquor stores.

Curious Elixirs

Curious Elixirs broke into the new temperance movement in 2017 to offer a healthier substitute and is regularly ranked among the best “Booze-Free brands” in publications including the NY Times, Huffington Post, and Forbes Magazine.

Curious Elixirs marries the convenience of a pre-packaged cocktail with the quality of an alcohol-free beverage that is both tasty and rewarding.

Birthed from a desire to have complex drinks that carry a level of enjoyment without the burden of alcohol, Curious Elixirs ingredient combinations aim to increase serotonin and dopamine. Not only do these beverages taste great, but they also make you feel better.

All of Curious Elixir’s offerings use a stacking function of ingredients. These beverages contain adaptogenic herbs which help your body cope with physical and emotional stress. In short, this refreshment is as multifunctional as your tool belt.

Tasting Notes

We tasted their most recent release, Curious No. 5, a smoked cherry chocolate old-fashioned. The beverage is infused with elderberry, ginger, chicory, and cayenne. This blend of flavors creates a lingering and awakening sensation in the mouth and throat, similar to our favorite bourbon drinks (minus the booze.)

The slight bitterness of an aperitif/aperitivo, AKA a pre-meal drink, primes the body for food. Traditionally, this beverage is meant to open the stomach before dining.

Food Pairing

We wanted a trusted local culinary opinion of Curious No. 5, so we asked our friend and James Beard-nominated Chef, Victor Parra Gonzalez to taste it and offer a dish to pair. Victor opened his restaurant Las Puertas, which translates to “The Doors” in 2018. Located on Buffalo’s Westside, Las Puertas is an innovative, upscale Mexican restaurant that features local ingredients where ever possible.

Lucky for us, Victor decided on Oaxacan Mole. There are few sauces more complex or delicious than mole. To some, it is more valuable than the dish it tops. The mole-making process is extensive, but the finished product is well worth the time and effort it demands.

Victor’s mole calls for almonds, greens, chocolate, and dehydrated chilies – cooked over days. The longer it cooks, the more flavors it will absorb. So, we paired this beverage with a rich mole over duck.

Pro tip | let duck sit out (uncovered) overnight in the fridge. This will yield crispier skin.

To finish the plate, Chef adds some rich roasted carrots and onions, sesame seeds, green powder (fennel and cilantro), and coffee powder (coffee and cocoa.)


The rich flavors of the dish paired with the complexity of Curious No. 5 equaled straight fire.

Curious No. 5 contains the legendary aphrodisiac: Shatavari. This is an extract sourced from the spears, roots, and rhizomes of the asparagus plant. It is a body balancing Ayurvedic ingredient sold mainly in capsule form, available in tea bags, crystalized powders, and yes, you guessed it- liquid tinctures. The rejuvenating and nourishing recipe is high in quercetin, a flavonoid known to have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Curious Elixirs currently have 5 different flavors to choose from: Elixirs No. 1 through 4 provide lighter spritzed flavors, but No. 5 really breaks the mold of 0% proof drinks as we’ve come to know them.

Not only is this drink delicious – it is 100% vegan and seriously crushable. Uplifting for the heart, a panacea for myriad health concerns, and a helping hand in convalescence.

In my constant exploration of all things deliciously drinkable, I’d rank Curious Elixirs No. 5 among the top 3 booze-free concoctions I’ve had the pleasure of tasting.

But admittedly, I tend to be a sucker for multifunctional things with beneficial properties. For a drink that’s more than just juice, No. 5 offers a multi-layered flavor experience. This drink is delicious, it promotes health, and it replaces alcohol while remaining a social lubricant. Curious Elixirs have zero refined sugar. No. 1-4 get progressively lighter, but No. 5 brings us a full-bodied complex sipper.

Right out of the gate (or down the hatch), you can taste oak, smoke, chocolate, elderberry, cherry, chicory, and ginger, and yes, I will toast to that.

Cin Cin!



Curious Elixirs are booze-free craft cocktails, infused with adaptogens to help you unwind. Whether you’re sober or sober curious, toasting your team or sipping solo, Curious Elixirs is on a mission to create the world’s most sophisticated cocktails, without the alcohol. Inspired by classics like the Aperol Spritz, the Spicy Margarita, and the Negroni, every Curious Elixir is handcrafted with organic ingredients and no refined sugar. Our ingredients include adaptogens and plants that benefit your body, helping you relax and destress without the hangover. We offer one-time orders as well as our subscribers-only Curious Cocktail Club to ensure your fridge stays stocked. Order Curious Elixirs online, and have it shipped directly to your door at

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Author and host, Michelle Merlo
Photography by Devin Chavanne
Executive Producer, George Johnson
Special thanks to Chef Victor Parra Gonzalez, Las Puertas

Written by Michelle Merlo

Michelle Merlo

Michelle Merlo is a mixographer and food enthusiast. She helped run the cocktail program at Roost and Inizio. Before that, she was shaking up concoctions at Buffalo Distilling Company and Bobo in NYC. These days you can find her behind the pine at Oliver’s. Michelle is our resident cocktailier and the host of Buffalo Rising’s cocktail series, BITTERS

View All Articles by Michelle Merlo
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