When Lisa Farr Johnstone and her partner, Tom Johnstone, moved from London to Los Angeles, much changed: farmers markets and hiking replaced the bustle of city life and drinking at bars; as time wore on, the couple became more thoughtful about their alcohol consumption. Add two young kids and an increasingly tense political atmosphere to the mix and the sobriety stuck. Lisa and Tom liked how they felt after cutting out alcohol, but their social lives suffered. When they did go out, the non-alcoholic offerings were non-existent or heavy on the sugar (a different kind of hangover!).
They took the lack of options as inspiration. In January 2020, the couple began developing what would become their zero-proof spirits company, Optimist Botanicals. Guided by a strong philosophy – “No sugar, no additives; purely distilled, using CO2 extraction which is super clean and great at extracting flavor” – they found a local distillery to build flavors that evoke the senses. By that point, the Pandemic was raging. Picture spirits tastings over Zoom and insane sourcing issues and you get the idea.