How would you describe yourself today? Gosh knows we’ve all been through a lot.
Would “bitter, sweet and complex” fit the bill, perhaps? If so, then you now have your newest favorite aperitif: The Pathfinder, a distilled “spirit” made from fermented hemp plants. That, alone, is unique. That it is non-alcoholic? Well, just one more reason they called it The Pathfinder.
There are two versions of the aromatic, genre-bending beverage. The first is the non-alcoholic and non-psychoactive version, which makes for a delightfully new cocktail substitute at parties or when sipping at a home bar. The other is an as-of-yet-unreleased THC-infused version, which will soon be available at cannabis shops. This version, of course, will be psychoactive like other “edibles” or “drinkables” infused with THC.
We caught up with Chris Abbott, co-creator of The Pathfinder and CEO of Botanica (makers of Mr. Moxey’s Mints) to ask him about the drink’s origins (hint: Golden Age of Cannabis) and where he envisions his newest product living in bars, restaurants and homes.
The genesis of The Pathfinder and its THC-infused version began with a question: What will the backbar of the future look like?
Launching in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood — predominantly in cocktail bars — we’ve been the first non-alc spirit on many backbars. Once we were placed in the bar, though, we didn’t know how we might show up on the menu, which has a significant influence on how people choose their drink for the night. Non-alc options (soda, carbonated water, juices) are typically grouped together and not included in the cocktail list. So, it’s been really interesting to see where non-alc cocktails show up.
What we’re finding is bars are pushing the envelope on both low-alc and non-alc cocktails using The Pathfinder to create complex cocktails with the same craft of their alcoholic “brothers and sisters.” These drinks now merit a highlight on the cocktail menu at a price that is competitive with alcoholic counterparts, which we’ve never really seen happen before.
Suddenly, bars are finding the non-alc and low-alc section of their menu has gone from a sleepy alcove to one of the most exciting new additions to their program.
Can you talk a little more about this idea, especially in terms of what you envision will be the role of non-alcoholic spirits and the role of cannabis and THC in bars, homes and restaurants?
When we socialize, we drink. Alcohol has been at the center of socialization and, really, there has been no other game in town. But what if you could have all the rituals that we have today around drinking — but without the alcohol? Some nights alcohol is exactly what you need, others you want none and still others you will choose the buzz of THC. But in none of those cases do you want to sacrifice or compromise those rituals you love best. We don’t think people’s rituals will change in bars, homes and restaurants, but attitudes around alcohol are evolving.
And why did you want to create an aperitif, specifically? Why not, say, a non-alcoholic gin or tequila or whiskey — was it that you could build this from the ground up?
We set out to create the first cannabis spirit that was based on the cannabis plant itself. Rather than try to mimic a gin or tequila or whisky, a cannabis spirit would create a whole new category and taste profile. Adding botanicals to round out the drink helped us build a complex and versatile liquid which we deemed essential in winning over the hearts and minds of bartenders. And these botanicals also helped us fit nicely as an aperitif. And, yes! We wanted The Pathfinder to be all about what we added rather than what was removed.
How did the aesthetic of apothecaries and the American West inspire The Pathfinder? Was it a sense of limitless concoctions in an effort for something better?
We went back and looked at the history of cannabis and discovered that the mid-1800s was the golden age of cannabis in the American West. We found incredible bottles with words written on them like “Pain Destroyer” and it was this era and these bottles that informed The Pathfinder look and feel. It was around this time as well that other botanicals in the American West were being discovered for their medicinal properties, some of which we included in The Pathfinder like Douglas-fir, angelica root and wormwood.
Yes, overall there was a feeling of discovery and pioneering spirit that comes out of the American West, which we believe fits well into the ethos of The Pathfinder as a trail blazing product.
The Pathfinder Spritz
2oz The Pathfinder Hemp and Root
½oz Fresh squeezed lemon
Top with Seltzer
Lemon slice garnish
Serve over ice in a Collins glass
This cocktail really highlights The Pathfinder: bitter, sweet and complex.