Like any red-blooded American, I’ll take any opportunity to temporarily dull my anxieties with intoxicants. Whether worrying about the likelihood of a medical emergency-induced bankruptcy, the forthcoming Great Recession 2.0 or the overall dismal future prospects for myself, my generation and the planet, a few shots of ethanol or hits of green usually lock those negative thoughts in the basement of my mind until the following morning.
However, I’m no longer the spry 20-something I once was, and recovery from these sessions now takes longer than ever before. Revelry that would have once elicited a simple Sunday morning hangover now has them stretching well into the evening and sometimes straight through to Monday. Something needed to change, but it definitely wasn’t going to be my innate desire to get blotto.
My prayers seemed potentially answered when I came across an ad for Kin Euphorics, a brand selling “a nightlife beverage made from nourishing nootropics, balancing adaptogens, and replenishing botanics that lift the mind and relax the body to open the spirit to connection.” These alcohol-free inebriants promised a mood alteration that would allow me to “take back [my] morning afters.”
The lovely ombré packaging and fashion magazine-worthy product photos on Kin’s website conveyed tranquility and luxury, while the testimonials in Kin’s Instagram comments range from people claiming they felt nothing, to satisfied customers, to those who said the caffeine buzz of the product kept them amped all night. It seemed the only way I’d be able to gauge the efficacy of Kin’s blissful claims would be to try it out for myself.
I procured samples of Kin’s two products: their canned Spritz cocktails and a bottle of High Rhode. The latter is considered their “harder” stuff meant to be sipped or mixed into other beverages. With almost 60 ounces of euphorics in front of me, I was ready to make the most of a sober night.
Kin’s website advised not drinking more than four servings within a 24-hour period, but just as I’d never let Big Alcohol’s feeble suggestions to “drink responsibly” get in the way of a good time, I would have to ignore this warning as well if I was going to truly test Kin’s merits as a booze replacement.
I started the party by cracking open a can of Spritz. Though the site touted a flavor profile of “fresh citrus, hibiscus, and ginger,” I was still shocked by the bitterness of the first sip. It was as if I’d been holding a bunch of coins in my mouth and tried to rinse the taste away with a fruity tonic shot. In time I adjusted to the flavor and was soon done with my first serving. As expected, I did not yet feel anything. I moved on to round two.
The stuff in the High Rhode bottle was meant to be mixed, so I poured a splash into the only mixable I had in the fridge: Simply Limeade. The brackish brown liquid that this produced turned out to be quite a tolerable drink with the limeade’s acidity completely overpowering Kin’s bitterness. The ease with which I was able to pound this down left me feeling like I’d somehow cheated and gone against the spirit of my experiment. Once my glass was empty, I poured myself a shot, straight up.
Three drinks deep, I was finally starting to feel… something. My face was a bit flushed, and I had some sweat droplets formulating on my forehead. Was this just over-caffeination? My disgusting daily habit of mainlining coffee and energy drinks led me to believe otherwise. Perhaps I was on the cusp of euphoria.
I popped the top on another Spritz, attempting to really savor the floral notes this time. I offered my roommate a sip when he passed by the kitchen, but after bringing the can to his nose, he made a face and returned it to me unsampled. Some people are just afraid of change, I suppose.
By the end of the can, I was more aware of the effects Kin was having on my body. My heart was racing, my cheeks were pulsing, my nose was a bit runny and my hands were even shaking a bit. This was a far sight from blissed-out chillness, but I wasn’t hating it either. If anything, it reminded me of Adderall more than alcohol.
I had my last sips of Kin for the night by tipping the High Rhode bottle from the crook of my elbow into my mouth like it was a jug of moonshine. I’d put down over half of my supply and decided to call it a night. Even a daredevil like me has limits when it comes to unfamiliar substances.
The next morning, as promised, I felt no ill effects from the prior night’s binging. I’d had fun, sure, but I knew in my heart that the siren song of alcohol would be calling me back sooner rather than later. My time with Kin had been a tryst. Maybe someday, when (and if) I’m truly ready to make a lifestyle change away from booze, Kin will be there to offer a gentler kind of buzz. Until then, I’ll resign myself to the ever-increasing recovery times that come with my preferred vices.