It can be hard to live a high-profile, Hollywood life and abstain from alcohol. Harder still if your spouse has part ownership in a gin brand. But that’s exactly the position Blake Lively, superstar actress and wife of Ryan Reynolds, the face of Aviation Gin, is in. Although she likes the taste of alcohol, Lively’s sober. “I hate the effects of it, she says.” But sitting on the sidelines isn’t her thing. “I wanted something where I could still participate” with friends who were drinking. Rather than deal with mediocrity, Lively launched her own brand of mixers called Betty Buzz.
You’re probably particular about the spirits you use in cocktails, but how precious are you about the add-ins? It’s an afterthought for most, but mixers are incredibly important for cocktails—especially nonalcoholic ones, as it comprises a huge chunk of the flavor profile. Thing is, most mixers don’t measure up to a proper cocktail.
“To me, they didn’t taste great, but apparently they do once you mix them with alcohol,” Lively says. “It just didn’t make any sense…If this is most of the drink, then why doesn’t it taste spectacular?”
Made with real juice and natural sweeteners and flavors, the Betty Buzz lineup includes five variants: Sparkling Grapefruit, Sparkling Lemon Lime, Meyer Lemon Club Soda, Ginger Beer, and Tonic Water. The “real ingredients” plug isn’t just hype; there’s actually fruit sediment in the Sparkling Lemon Lime.
“I’m a millennial, we love that crap,” Lively jokes.
The mixers are simple by design; Lively intends for them to be used with a variety of add-ins, garnishes, and spirits, if that’s your thing.
“You really can’t go wrong,” she says. “It’s very rare—maybe once—that I’ve put something together and gone, ‘I don’t like the way that tastes.’ ” She even promotes a cocktail called Everything but the Kitchen Drink (see below) that layers multiple Betty Buzz flavors, garnished with herbs, like mint and basil, and any type of fresh citrus you have on hand.
Lively is hoping Betty Buzz makes it easier for everyone to enjoy a high-quality drink, regardless of their choice to imbibe. She relays a story about Reynolds opting out of a boozy drink at a social gathering and asking her to make him an alcohol-free Betty Buzz cocktail instead.
“That was a neat moment for me,” she says. “To see how it evened the playing field a bit.”
Below, check out Lively’s insider advice for drinking great without alcohol, and some simple-yet-satisfying Betty Buzz recipes that can be made with or without booze.
Take It From Blake: Top Tips for Sober Cocktailing
1. Don’t Feel Pressure to Finish
Betty Buzz bottles are 9 ounces, enough to make two full drinks—but if you only want one, just pop the cap back on. “It stays carbonated,” Lively says.
2. Just a Drop’ll Do Ya
Lively doesn’t drink alcohol, but she appreciates the aromas that an aged bourbon or high-quality gin can add to a cocktail. She’ll rim the glass with a little booze, or even rub some on a garnish of sliced apple or ginger to enjoy the sensory benefits without the alcoholic effects. “You’re not getting enough alcohol to do anything, it’s probably less than vanilla extract but…if you put it right where you’re drinking, so you smell it, you really get that woodiness,” Lively says.
3. Bitters Can Be Better
If you’re avoiding spirits altogether, Lively recommends a few dashes of cassia bark bitters, which can have the same aromatic amplifying effect as a drop or two of bourbon. Play around with other types of bitters, too; there’s a world of potential flavor combinations that can stand in for gin, tequila, and other alcohols.
Both-Ways Betty Buzz Cocktails
While Lively designed Betty Buzz to be enjoyed on its own, sans alcohol, the mixers work just as well when paired with bourbon, gin, and other spirits. Check out the recipes below, which can be made boozy or booze-free.
- Betty Buzz Ginger Beer
- 2 droppers cassia bark bitters
- 5 oz apple juice
- 1/2 oz bourbon, or as much as desired (optional)
- Pomegranate seeds and apple slices, for garnish
- Fill a tall glass half-full with ice, then add 4 ½ ounces (half-bottle) of Betty Buzz Ginger Beer, apple juice, bitters, and bourbon, if using.
- Stir to combine, and squeeze two handfuls of pomegranate seeds on top, allowing the fresh juice to drip into the drink.
- Garnish with remaining seeds and apple slices.
- Optional: Rub the apple slices with a few drops of bourbon for added aroma.
If Suede Were a Drink
- Betty Buzz Sparkling Grapefruit
- 2 full droppers cassia bark bitters
- Fresh sage, for garnish
- Fill a tall glass with ice and add ¾ of the bottle of Betty Buzz Sparkling Grapefruit.
- Top with two full droppers of cassia bark bitters, and stir to combine.
- Rub the rim of the glass with fresh sage, then garnish with more sage.
- Optional: Top with Betty Buzz Meyer Lemon Club Soda for a less spicy drink.
Everything but the Kitchen Drink
- St-Germain liqueur
- Betty Buzz Sparkling Lemon Lime, Sparkling Grapefruit, and Meyer Lemon Club Soda
- 1/2 oz gin, or as much as desired (optional)
- Mint sprigs, basil leaves, and blood orange slices, for garnish
- In a Highball glass, layer 1 cap full of St-Germain and a splash (about 1 oz) each of the Betty Buzz mixers.
- Stir in gin, if using, and add ice.
- Garnish generously with mint, basil, and blood orange slices.
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