In this review:
- What is Curious Elixirs?
- What is Curious Elixirs No 2?
- How do you serve Curious Elixirs No 2?
- What does Curious Elixirs No 2 taste like?
- How does Curious Elixirs No 2 make you feel?
- My overall recommendation
What is Curious Elixirs?
Curious Elixirs has been around since August 2016, just two years after Seedlip was founded in 2014. So you could say they are one of the OG drinks in this category! They have a pretty loyal following and several people have reviewed them on YouTube.
But unlike Seedlip, Curious Elixirs makes ready to drink cocktails. They were one of the first to try to create a complex and accessible drinking experience that isn’t laden with sugar. Like most other founders, John Wiseman started in his home kitchen experimenting with various drinks. But even beyond just creating a delicious drink, they want to create a more inclusive drinking culture focused on wellness.
They have launched a line with several functional drinks that mimic the flavors you love in craft cocktails, like an old fashioned, a gin and tonic, a negronis to name a few.
The thing that makes Curious Elixirs different than some of the other products on the market is its focus on adaptogens and they way they make you feel. Although some folks in the industry call them “Euphorics” I don’t particularly like that name because it has associations that exaggerate how it will make you feel and inevitably let down some consumers who want the same feeling as alcohol. To be clear—you won’t get the same effects asl alcohol or CBD infused drinks. But, depending on the adaptogen, they will still make you calm in a different way.
What is curious Elixirs No 2?
Curious Elixirs No 2 is a drink that is meant to resemble a Dark and Stormy or a Moscow Mule. Did you know the primary difference between a Dark and Stormy and a Moscow Mule is the liquor used to make the drink? A Dark and Stormy was created in Bermuda and typically features a dark rum, while a Moscow Mule is made with Vodka. You may also find variations of these made with whiskey.
The primary adaptogen in Curious Elixirs No 2 is Damiana or turnera diffusa. Known as the sexy herb, Damiana is typically used in folk medicine to relax and stir up libido for both men and women! The logic is that if the herb can reduce stressors, then your body is more open to sexual experiences. Although there hasn’t been extensive research to validate these claims, this herb has been used for thousands of years to treat libido and also urinary tract infections. This is purely informational and in no way should be taken as medical advice though.
Though many people claim that herbal remedies are too “goopy” there is no denying that some herbs do have an immediate physiological effect on your body—just take a look at CBD which is derived from hemp.
I will explain more about how the drink made me feel later after the tasting notes. Read on to find out!
How do you serve Curious Elixirs No 2?
Although it looks like you will need a bottle opener, you don’t! It’s a twist off! If you’re serving for company, go ahead and twist off without pulling off the paper tape across the top. If you do, it won’t come off easily and will leave a residue. It will look more elegant just to rip it and leave the edges attached to the bottle.
When tasting drinks, we love to try them the way the creator imagined first to get a sense of what the intended flavor is.
The bottle says to serve with ice and a salted rim, to make it feel more like a margarita and enhance the citrus notes. Make sure to gently invert the bottle before pouring because there is some sediment that settles to the bottom and it’s the sediment that contains much of the flavor! If you pour and it’s just clear liquid - you are missing the flavor! You’ll want to pour into a mixing glass and stir a bit to re-incorporate and then pour into your serving glass. The liquid should be somewhat cloudy.
What does Curious Elixirs No 2 taste like?
Because Curious Elixirs No 2 is meant to be a take on a dark and stormy, I had certain expectations about flavor: balanced citrus, bright gingery flavor, and caramel notes from the ginger beer. The flavors are typically pretty straightforward and not super complex, depending on the type of rum used.
If not mixed well, Curious Elixir No 2 will be clear liquid with a mostly citrus and mild ginger flavor. If served over ice, it will taste even more watered down. When you get to the bottom of the bottle, the flavor will be even more concentrated and the ginger flavor will turn very spicy. This is why it’s extremely important to mix it well by gently inverting the bottle a few times before opening.
When mixed well, the Curious Elixir No 2 will be somewhat cloudy and have a strong citrus and sharp ginger flavor. The citrus flavor is rounded out by pineapple and orange which are quite subtle, but also give it a sweeter profile. Pineapple is one of the first items on the ingredients list.
It also has a slight herbal flavor, but it’s not super bitter. The primary herbal flavor is the taste of star anise. If you haven’t had it before, it has a taste like licorice and is slightly sweet. Though it’s one of the last items on the ingredient list, it’s a pretty pronounced flavor.
Spiciness is often used as a trick to make NA drinks feel more like alcohol. Curious Elixir No 2 does an ok job with this, but might be offputting for some that don’t like spice. The lightly spicy flavor will build over time to be a slight burn on the tongue, but it does not build at the back of your throat. It does not taste like a spicy margarita, which typically has a strong green pepper flavor. The spiciness comes from a combination of jalapeno and ancho chili pepper, but the pepper flavors don’t come through—just the spicy, numbing sensation on the tongue.
This drink is already somewhat effervescent, but not strongly so. It would not be good to mix with a seltzer because the flavor would become too diluted and start to taste more like a lemonade.
How does Curious Elixirs No 2 make you feel?
When I drank Curious Elixirs No 2, it was about 6:50pm on a Saturday right before the Garth Brooks stadium tour concert in San Diego. I had a busy day and hadn’t eaten for four hours prior and also didn’t have dinner before beginning drinking. I mention this because it likely impacted my experience with the adaptogens.
Especially when consumed on an empty stomach, Damiana can have an immediate effect on your physiology. Damiana is one of the last items on the ingredients label, though. So, it’s surprising that the effects can be felt so immediately. I would describe it as a slight lift in mood and energy, and an openness that you might get with your first few sips of alcohol. But it doesn’t go further than that.
Note that adaptogenic ingredients affect everyone a little bit differently, and that my results may not be typical. Plus, I consumed the whole bottle which is 2 servings within the span of 1 hour.
- Almost all the ingredients are organic, but some are not
- Non GMO
- No Refined Sugar
My overall recommendation
I would probably not purchase the Curious Elixirs again, mostly because I can probably make something similar myself with fresher ingredients. Citrus juices tend to oxidize really quickly, which is why you typically see fresh citrus juices used at most good quality bars. Since the predominant flavor of this beverage is citrus, it’s something I would prefer to make at home.
The ingredients used in the Curious Elixirs No 2 Recipe are broadly available, including Damiana extracts, so it’s not difficult to make. If you have made a homemade NA margarita with your own sour mix before, you can definitely make this at home.
At $38.00 per pack of 4 bottles (i.e. 8 servings of 6 oz each), it's not cheap. But if you prefer convenience and not having to clean a blender, this is one you might want to try even if it might not be the most economical option.