Ghia Review: The Non-Alcoholic Aperitif Curbing Our Cocktail Cravings
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First things first: I love a cocktail. Preferably something floral, sour, and slightly bitter—and during the summertime, these drinks shine. Gin and tonic? Aperol spritz? Sign me up. Best of all, cocktails usually come with making memories with loved ones, chatting and laughing around a table.
“It turns out that skipping the booze doesn’t have to mean a sad little can of soda water.”
But not all evenings need alcohol. I love going to dinner or hanging with friends on a weeknight—but I don’t love the way I feel when I get up for work at 7:30 the next morning if I had a couple of drinks.
It turns out that skipping the booze doesn’t have to mean a sad little can of soda water. Enter Ghia.
What’s the deal with Ghia?
Ghia launched in 2020 with a non-alcoholic aperitif. The tart, bitter, fruity liquor substitute has all the botanical complexity of a typical aperitif, with notes of yuzu, fig, ginger, rosemary, and lemon. You can serve it straight up over ice, or as the brand recommends: one part Ghia, three parts bubbles of your choice (like soda water or kombucha).
Unlike some other spirits alternatives on the market, Ghia doesn’t claim to give you any sort of buzz with adaptogens or hemp or CBD. Rather, they focus on the flavor. Aperitifs are meant to whet the appetite, so they’re usually low ABV and complexly dry, bitter, and botanical rather than sweet. They come on the rocks or in spritz form—popular aperitifs include Campari, Aperol, and Lillet.
“Unlike some other spirits alternatives on the market, Ghia doesn’t claim to give you any sort of buzz with adaptogens or hemp or CBD.”
Notably, Ghia’s branding is fantastic. Ghia was founded by Melanie Marasin, who, before starting her own venture, helped build brands like Dig Inn and Glossier (makes sense, right?). Growing up, she spent her summers near the Mediterranean, making homemade limoncello with her mom and grandmother. Aperitivo, which refers to the hours after work but before dinner when friends or family gather for a drink and a snack, is “a way of life,” in the Mediterranean, Marasin says on Ghia’s website. To her, aperitivo means connecting with loved ones, letting loose, laughing, and making memories. That’s why she created Ghia: “a drink you’d remember in the morning.”
In 2021, Ghia took the legwork out of making a Ghia cocktail, releasing Le Spritz. They now sell four flavors of these eight-ounce drinks—original Ghia with soda, lime & salt, Ghia ginger, and, as of a couple weeks ago, sumac & chili. Read on for my honest thoughts on the latter.
Ghia’s Sumac & Chili Le Spritz
Firstly, this should be a bit of a ritual. Make sure you pour the canned spritz over ice before you indulge—all the better to see the drink’s gorgeous brick-red color.
On first sip, it’s spicy. Which I absolutely love, but if you hate spice, you might want to try a different flavor. It’s a wasabi-like spice—it bites hard and fast but dissipates just as quickly.
The flavor profile on the sumac & chili spritz is fantastic. The satisfying chili hotness gives way to a milder gingery spice before the sumac hits, tangy and citrusy like freshly squeezed lemon, but a bit more floral and earthy. “Sharp and fiery like a night at the Cha Cha,” the brand describes the flavor.
“‘Sharp and fiery like a night at the Cha Cha,’ the brand describes the flavor.”
A popular spice in the Middle East, sumac is great for seasoning grilled meat and pairs well with dairy like yogurt and cheese. It’s a main ingredient in the spice blend za’atar, and it’s great on just about any food, adding a subtle earthy smokiness, and upping the acidity without extra liquid.
Since aperitifs are flavor-driven, they lend themselves particularly well to non-alcoholic versions. Ghia gives you the grown-up sophistication of a cocktail with a bitterness that makes your lips pucker, which, honestly, I loved. If I’m going to sub out a cocktail, I don’t want something that tastes like juice.
How to drink Ghia
In terms of creating an alcohol replacement, Ghia has hit the nail on the head. But they haven’t pigeonholed themselves to just an audience of folks who don’t drink—I like a cocktail on weekends and special occasions, I’d definitely reach for a Ghia instead of a second or third drink, or for an afternoon or weeknight hang that needs a touch of alcohol-free finesse. It scratches that cocktail itch.
“I like a cocktail on weekends and special occasions, I’d definitely reach for a Ghia instead of a second or third drink.”
While I drank some of my Ghia spritzes while cooking dinner, they were also perfect on-the-go—I threw one in my bag for an outdoor Shakespeare performance in the park one evening, and for a weeknight picnic along the river with some friends. And I’ll definitely bring one to the beach next time I go.
You can purchase 12-packs, 36-packs, and even 108-packs of Le Spritz via Ghia’s website, or you can find your closest local vendor to try the product with a 4-pack for $24. I don’t feel this way about many of the products I review, but I’m excited to buy more Le Spritz at the store. And I’m even more excited for the cute summer nights I’ll drink them on. 🙂
- Ghia is a non-alcoholic aperitif and cocktail alternative that comes in four flavors: original Ghia with soda, lime & salt, Ghia ginger, and sumac & chili.
- Crafted after all the qualities of a traditional aperitif, Ghia is complex and not just a juice. Look for your preferred botanical, dry, bitter, or spicy notes to choose which flavor.
- A 4-pack starts at $24, and you can purchase packs of up to 108 on their website.
Natalie Gale is a Boston-based freelance journalist. When she’s not writing about art, food, or sustainability, you can find her biking to the farmers’ market, baking, sewing, or planning her next Halloween costume. Say hi on Instagram!