Who said that non-drinking means not having fun? We bet you will change your mind after trying the amazing tropical zero booze drinks created by Caleño Drinks. Caleño is a delicious non-alcoholic aperitif packed with tropical fruits and amazing flavours. It was created by Ellie Webb in 2020 with a big desire to create something so delicious that everyone could experience the joy of not drinking. Inspired by this desire and her journey to Colombia, Ellie bottled these experiences and that is how Caleño was born. We were so excited about Caleño Drinks and wanted to find out more about this tropical zero alcohol drink.
Hello, Ellie, thanks for chatting with us. Tell us about your journey to creating one of the best non-alcoholic alternatives. What motivated you to make the first bottle of Caleño?
So, my whole journey essentially began four years ago, back in January 2017. It was a culmination of things, but mainly, I was looking to cut back on my drinking after Christmas and I wanted to try Dry January for the first time. There was one night in Bristol, I remember going out to a Latin Funk music night with some friends, and I’d offered to drive (as I wasn’t drinking). My friends ordered the usual gin and tonics, craft beers, whilst I was left drinking a diet coke and then water… Not quite as exciting, and was quite frustrating. Coming from a background in the alcohol industry, it got me thinking. There is literally so much choice in the world of spirits and alcohol, but if you’re suddenly not then drinking, what the hell do you drink? I knew I couldn’t drink soft drinks all night, and water felt incredibly boring.
A few months later I took a trip back to Colombia. I spent a lot of time with family (my mum’s side is from there) and also travelled around the country, visiting Cali, Medellin, Bogota the coffee region and the coastal towns of Cartagena and Santa Marta. Whilst I was there I experienced the warm, happy upbeat/sunny nature of the Colombian people, who are relentlessly optimistic, open-minded and are always finding an excuse to celebrate/party!! It was there that it kind of dawned on me what the non-alcoholic space was lacking. When you don’t drink, people accuse you of being boring, and that’s just not the case, it’s the drinks that are dull. It needed a massive injection of joy and excitement, and that’s when I decided that was what my drink was going to do. I guess from there my vision for Caleño was pretty clear.
Caleño is truly an amazing non-alcoholic drink and it is appreciated by so many, from tee-totalers and sober-curious, through to those just looking for a delicious drink. What, to your mind, sets it apart from other zero booze drinks?
I think Caleño is set apart from other zero-alcohol free drinks on a few fronts. First up, we are 100% focused on our mission to bring joy to not drinking and show people you can have a great time without the alcohol, so we tend to dial up the volume on high-tempo activities like dance workouts that make the most of feeling fit and healthy without the booze. Then you have our bottles which are super colourful and vibrant – we want to stand out in a crowd and sit proudly in your drinks cabinet. Our tropical flavour profiles are also pretty unique to the market, they make us highly distinctive but incredible accessible which lots of interesting serves and cocktails to explore.
What are the challenges of launching a non-alcoholic beverage?
At the beginning it was quite frustrating. I didn’t have the knowledge – or the connections – to make things happen as quickly as I wanted. But I learnt a lot – and quickly. Getting through to the right producers and industry people at the beginning was challenging, particularly because I only wanted to make a very small quantity of product to get myself set up and they were used to working with big orders. But eventually I found people who I could work with and learn from, some of the people I met during those very early days are still suppliers and I still work with now. Some have even become mentors to me.
Tell us a little about the making process of Caleño drinks. How much work does it take to make a bottle of delicious zero alcohol tropical drink?
So all in all it took around two years to come up with the recipe for the first bottle of Caleño. I lost count of how many iterations I went through, but there was a lot of exploration with different distillates, extraction methods and distillation techniques.
Growing up and spending lots of time in Colombia as a child, I always remembered the delicious ‘jugos’ made from blending exotic fruits like pineapple, papaya, coconut and lulo! I really wanted to introduce a tropical dimension to our distillations and make our products unique, and distinctive in a growing market.
Both our non-alcoholic spirits are distilled in beautiful stainless-steel tanks, over two days, imagine lots of delicious tropical aromas. We the leave our liquids to sit for a couple of days to mature before we bottle. I’m proud to say
Non-alcoholic drinks continue to grow in popularity. Why do you think they hold such appeal?
I think non-alcoholic drinks have been so popular as they slot so quickly and easily into everyday life, without any of the guilty associations. The health and wellness trend has grown hugely over the last decade, and now more than ever people are focused on not only their physical, but also mental well-being. Sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks like ours have huge appeal because we are sugar free, super low in calories and come with zero hangover, so you can make the most of the drinking ritual, without any of the negatives.
What is your favourite way to enjoy Caleño?
At the moment I’m really enjoying Dark & Spicy over ice, with soda and fresh lime! Depending on what I have in the fridge, I sometimes add a load of mint leaves, which is my version of an alcohol-free mojito!
Tell us about your life outside Caleño. What excites and inspires you?
I love the outdoors and being out and about, so you’ll usually find me taking my dog for long weekend walks during my free time. I am also a big foodie and love going to bars and restaurants, and I am passionate about travel; something I am hoping to carve out time to do more of in the future. Travel has been some of the biggest inspiration in my life and I want to do more. I had a trip to Costa Rica booked last year, which I wasn’t able to go on, so hoping to be able to re-book and do some more exploring!
You’re based down in Bristol. Tell us one of your secret spots that we should check out next time we’re in the city.
I absolutely love Bristol, it’s such a vibrant city with lots of incredible places to visit and explore. One of my favourite places is Wapping Wharf, located down by Bristol Harbour, and is made up of shipping containers featuring Bristol’s most exciting and innovative food & drinks companies. Every time I visit I uncover something new
What was the last song you listened to?
Familiar by Liam Payne & J-Balvin as I was cooking dinner ☺