While the adventure into Sober Curiosity undoubtedly invites a new sense clarity and high-vibe self, the allure of experiential moments is not immediately erased from one’s mind. Craving the comfort of ritual and a shared moment of détente, the founders of Aplós have filled the vacant space that blends the ritual of imbibing, without any hinderance to your great morning-after. Dubbed ‘natural magic’ for the mid-tempo moments, we chatted with Emily Onkey, Co-Founder and CMO of the brand to discover all things mystical, connected, slow-living and hemp-infused, and how pulling back and inviting calm is in fact the great antithesis to the dreaded alcohol hangxiety.
How was Aplós born, and from where does the name originate?
Aplós is greek for “simple.” The brand came to life as a reaction to our obsession with optimization and productivity, to our “always on” culture, and the chaos and anxiety it creates. The intention is for Aplós to be a recalibration—a brand that creates products and experiences that help us slow down and reconnect to the magic of the natural world—the simple things that ultimately add more substance to our lives.
Across the past couple of years, my co-founders and I have all been looking for ways to find more balance, and I was more frequently realizing the negative side effects from drinking. I enjoy the ritual of drinking and the social aspect, but it makes me sleep poorly and feel hungover. Basically, it just wasn’t that fun anymore.
Once I stepped back a bit, I had some perspective not just on my own relationship with alcohol, but also as a culture. Why is it normal that people jump to the conclusion you are pregnant if you skip one night of drinking? Why is it assumed that someone is in recovery if they opt out of alcohol? Drinking is ingrained in our culture that it’s the default when we want to unwind or socialize with friends. There’s never really been another option for a product that replicates both the sensory experience and the functional benefit of a cocktail, without the hangover the next day.
That’s what we’ve created with Aplós. It’s a product that we wanted ourselves—a functional alcohol alternative that provides all the good without the bad.
Aplós is described as ‘natural magic’. Can you elaborate?
Aplos is plant-based, hemp infused alcohol alternative that calms and uplifts. “Natural Magic” is a reference to the magic of the plant-based ingredients in Aplós and the natural, calming benefits they provide, as well as our broader brand ethos of reconnecting to the magic of the natural world. There is magic in the minutia that we so often overlook… we want to celebrate it. That’s “Natural Magic.”
How has post-2020 life influenced us as drinkers, as humans? Where are we heading?
The past year has been a time of uncertainty and heightened anxiety. Alcohol consumption had been in decline in years prior and saw a big uptick in consumption as we all tried to cope with the fear of a pandemic that wreaked havoc on everything we knew as normal.
Everyone’s experience is different, but since launching Aplós in December of 2020, it has been humbling to see first-hand just how many people are seeking an alternative to alcohol and didn’t feel like they had an option to meet their needs.
We find comfort in the ritual of drinking, but we also come back to drinking for the function it provides. Those two things don’t have to be addressed with alcohol. That is our goal with Aplós—to create functional, healthy alcohol alternatives that provide a more natural way to unwind.
Have we as a people forgotten the ‘art’ of living?
Not at all! I think we’ve just gotten distracted in the momentum of a digital life that rewards short-term engagement. But stepping back from that for a moment, most of the beauty and solace is found in the smallest moments of our lives. We want to help people find that beauty and provide them an excuse to unplug for a bit and purposefully enjoy the ‘art’ of living for a few sweet moments as an important reminder that what really matters isn’t found on a device.
What is “slow-living” and how can we begin to cultivate this philosophy in everyday life?
To me, slow-living is best described as keeping only as much on your plate as you can handle. It’s about making true space for the things that bring you the most joy and saying no to the rest. I have two kids, a start-up, and our family has been somewhat nomadic since the pandemic hit NYC last March. I’m a terrible multi-tasker, just terrible! So that overflow gives me a lot of anxiety. It quickly becomes clear when the balance shifts to how much can I get done quickly enough to stay on top of things. Slow-living is the reminder to take your time and to take “your” time, if that makes sense. In some ways the past year has forced us to embrace slower living and there are important treasures I’ve found at this pace that I hope to hold on to.
Favorite Aplós combination and how best to enjoy it?
I have friends who send enviable cocktails they make with muddled cherries or homemade syrups. I’m always very impressed with how creative people have been with our product.
That said, I’m a lazy mixologist. You’ll find me with a grapefruit selzer + Aplos on the rocks. Every day. Enjoy it curled up in a comfy chair and let the inertia of the day melt off of you. If you have a view you enjoy, that’s all the better.