Holistic medicine doctor brings better-for-you to ready-to-drink cocktails

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Holistic medicine doctor Giulietta Octavio created her beverage brand after observing the harmful habits of some of her patients during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“When everyone was stuck at home, a lot of my patients were very anxious and just kind of stuck and would drink as self medication, but it would then make them feel awful,” said Dr. Octavio in an interview with Food Dive at the Summer Fancy Foods in New York City. “That was when I saw a real need for a product like this.”

She created Ceybon AF which started as a product that was similar to bitters in an alcoholic cocktail. Its elixir line is a concentrate of different herbs and mushrooms. 

“I would mail the small bottles to my clients as a gift to help them drink less alcohol, I would just have them mix it with a little soda water as a replacement for their nightly cocktail,” said Octavio, “what I didn’t realize was how beneficial it would be for them. So not only were they getting the benefit of not drinking alcohol, but they were getting all the benefits of the mushrooms, the Adaptogens, and their immune boosting and mood boosting properties. They were like ‘I actually feel better than ever and I lost 10 pounds and I feel like I have a sense of hope again,’ and that’s a big deal.” 

It was by the end of 2020 that Octoavio recalled getting requests from her clients for more of the elixir to send to family and friends that she realized she was meeting a real need and doing something good. 

Though the bitters were a success, “people were like, ‘I just want a drink, can you make me one?’ and that’s when we developed the full-sized ready to drink bottles,” said Octavio. 

Now, Ceybon AF — which the company said translates to ‘it’s good’ in Chinese medicine — includes a full product line of Elixirs and alcohol-free Mushroom Wellness Cocktails, in three different varieties: Bright AF, Chill AF and Happy AF. 

The company produces its products at a vineyard in Napa and uses all of the same equipment a wine company would. This is no accident. 

Octavio wanted the products to feel like a real adult beverage, something luxurious and rich. 

“An alcoholic beverage, to me, has three components,” she said, “It has a viscosity, that sort of mouth burn, and then it has a bitterness and we use all different botanicals to achieve that. And finally, it ultimately shifts someone’s mood, that’s why a lot of people drink in the first place.” 

The holistic medicine doctor turned entrepreneur said it makes it easy to not drink alcohol when you are given the same experience with something that is actually good for you. 

“We take all of the mushrooms, all of the herbs, we masquerade them, mix them with water, we put them in the back of the tube and let them get more concentrated,” said Octavio on the involved production process. 

 “After 40 days, we press all of the mushrooms and herbs and the liquid out and that’s the active ingredient, that’s the kind of medicine that’s in the bottle,” she said. 

Although many younger drinkers have started to consume less alcohol, Octavio said many of the company’s customers are older consumers looking to cut alcohol out because they either have a problem with it, or cannot handle it anymore for health reasons. 

“I’ve seen all the research and I knew that mushrooms have a distinct health benefit, but what I didn’t realize until I produced the drinks is that people actually notice it,” said Octavio. 

“The thing that blew me away was people were like, ‘I feel better, my skin is clear, I sleep better, my weight is normalized. My digestion has improved. I still feel more hopeful, more optimistic, more positive.’”

True to its mission, the Ceylon AF products bring different experiences to consumers similar to that of different cocktails. But unlike alcohol, the products are “very much a daily drink, you really can’t overdo it with these,” said Octavio. 

The first flavor profile, Chill AF, is a summer favorite, she said, similar to a gin-based cocktail and is great for a pre-meal drink. The second flavor profile, Happy AF, has a taste and experience similar to that of a mezcal and is best enjoyed in accompaniment to a meal. Finally, Bright AF, is good hot or cold, and best for a post-meal drink, like that of a hot toddy or sweet port wine. 

The elixirs, which the company also still carries, can be added to water or seltzer and are much more concentrated.