Fun without the alcohol: The story of Start Up Drinks Lab and Sparkling Sober

With many choosing to take part in Sober October or seeking healthier alternatives to alcohol, many are often unsure what to drink when on a night out. However, Sparkling Sober, alcohol-free drinks range by Start Up Drinks Lab is there to help rectify that problem. We spoke to Karis Johnston about the History of Start Up Drinks Lab as well as the development of their lower sugar, lower-calorie alternative.

What is the story behind Start Up Drinks Lab?

Start Up Drinks Lab started back in 2017 a and was launched by Craig and Hannah. They both developed their own individual soft drinks themselves and realized a lot of the problems that occurred through trying to find different suppliers. Hannah and Craig met each other at an event whereby the possible further can actually be found and the production aspect of their drinks in realized that there was a gap in the market for smaller producers looking to develop their own drinks and from that they developed Start Up Drinks Lab which works with small producers to bring their ideas to the shelf. From the initial idea to now we've scaled up massively and we're doing really well overall and looking forward to seeing more opportunities in the future. We're really really busy at the moment so it's good.

How did Sparkling Sober come about?

We started up Sparkling Sober initially back in 2018 with the idea that the premium soft drinks category was starting to grow in conjunction with people wanting to drink less and look for alternatives for sugary drinks. So take all these trends with low sugar, no-alcohol and also pay that premium soft drink that makes for a great alternative. We came up with our range of Sparkling Sober to have innovative flavors but also can be seen as that kind of adult soft drink that makes people feel that they are taking part on a night out without the alcohol.

The owner of the company Hannah was also pregnant at the time and she had this kind of frustration of trying to find something that she could drink so it's kind of that frustration that sparked the ideas that developed into the Sparkling Sober range.

What range of flavours do you offer?

We have three flavors which are Nosé, Nomosa, and Kir Refusal which are all based on famous champagne drinks. Nosé is our take on Rose wine and consists of rhubarb, elderflower, and ginger. Nomosa contains blood orange, chili, and mango. The latest flavor, Kir Refusal contains blackcurrant, grapefruit, and rosemary. All the drinks are based off different flavor dynamics, sweet, sour, and spice which adds a further premium aspect to it

Each 140-millimeter serving contains only 65 calories and the drinks utilize purely Scottish water. Were these aspects also important during the project's inception?

That was something that was implemented from the very beginning we knew taking the trends from non-alcoholic drinks its mostly health orientated so we were looking for that lower sugar lower-calorie tentative as well as just being non-alcoholic so that was definitely something that was implemented from the beginning. Scottish water is well renowned for its quality and that's just something that we really wanted to implement in our drinks from a quality perspective and an environmental perspective as well

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