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Tough Summer on the drinking front? Too many parties and cocktails by the pool? Is your liver feeling a little fatty?

I always find September to be a good month for a break from my norm – a time to take some time for my body to re-center and re-set in advance of the cooler Fall weather and holiday excess we must grudgingly endure at the end of the year. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like a good libation! It’s well documented that I’m a sucker for a good cocktail or mixed drink, but in September, please hold the alcohol.

We’ve seen a trend of late in the spirits and bar business, to move towards “low ABV” and “no ABV” drinks. Many bars and restaurants, including some chain eateries – Applebee’s and the like – now have dedicated sections on their cocktail lists to help to cater to those seeking to imbibe without alcohol. And catering to these formats are a growing number of non-alcoholic spirits brands waiting to whet consumers’ palates, including my new favorite, and botanical distillate of choice for this September’s ABV-Free moment, Wilderton.

Founded in Hood River, Oregon by spirits industry veteran Brad Whiting and distiller Seth O’Malley, Wilderton was launched in 2020 and has quietly been building a following in the PNW (Pacific Northwest) and beyond. Made from a distinctive recipe of botanicals that are steeped and distilled, Wilderton comes in two styles: Earthen and Lustre. Both are akin to Gin in their profiles – with a few twists. O’Malley also has a lifelong fascination with tea, and has incorporated this into the recipes.

Earthen is made up of Benzoin (a balsamic resin from trees in the Styrax family), Cardamom, Frankincense, Cubeb (Javanese Black Pepper), Pimenton, Rose, and Lapsang Souchong Tea. Spicy and aromatic with hints of Rose petal and a smokiness from the Lapsang Souchong Tea, this is a vibrant sip with a distinctive note of the Earth, of course.

Lustre is made with a botanical recipe that includes Bergamot, Bitter Orange, Lemongrass, Bay Leaf, Linden, Lavender, Orris (Orris root is obtained from certain types of Iris flower), Tarragon, Black Tea. Lustre has a lovely complexity with herbaceous and floral notes layered around the bitter orange and black tea.

Both are good on the rocks or with a splash of tonic and squeeze of lime. For the more adventurous home bartender, Wilderton has paired with noted bartender, book author and spirits ambassador, Jim Meehan, to create a selection of beautiful and delicious cocktails, which can be found at www.wildertonfree.com

Earthen and Lustre retail for $34.99 and can be found in select stores and online at Amazon.

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