Welcome to the newest beverage craze: High Rhode, a mood-enhancing supplement that launched in December to considerable social-media clamor. It's the first offering from New York City-based Kin Euphorics, which intends to redefine social lubrication.
Co-founder and CEO Jen Batchelor formerly worked in wellness. But she grew frustrated when clients' physical goals got derailed at the hotel bar. "I thought people would want something to help transition from day to night, still have a good time--but be better for it in the morning," she says.
Research into botanics, adaptogens (herbs and fungi used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine), and nootropics (which, adherents claim, enhance cognition) led to High Rhode--named for its Rhodiola rosea, an adaptogenic herb. It took 16 months to find the precise mix that provides a noticeable-but-subtle booze-free buzz. (Mine was stress-free but oddly chatty.)
"We'd thought, 'Let's just use cannabis,' but we didn't want to pigeonhole ourselves," says Batchelor. "We did a ton of research: What's the neurochemistry that allows for relaxation and more connection? How do we address that in a way that's fun and engaging--not a pill you take in a bathroom?"
Fifteen hundred cases of High Rhode sold in its first 10 weeks. A canned version is on tap for this summer, to be followed by a Nightcap formulation for last call and three more products this fall. "We're not at war with alcohol," says Batchelor. "We're just affording people an option."