A Smoky Box of Treats

Unboxing a Raising the Bar Cocktail Kit

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Wotcha! This week we are dedicating the newsletter to unboxing some smoky nonalcoholic goodies from the cocktail kit company, Raising the Bar. Enjoy!

In this week’s edition: 

  • 📰 NAN - Nonalcoholic News my Nan would approve of!

  • 🗃 MONTHLY COCKTAIL KIT: Raising the Bar

P.S. So the poll I added to last week’s newsletter about including news about NA drinks from other parts of the world in the NAN section … dead heat. Split down the middle, 50/50. I did not have a plan for an even split. So I’m going to throw it out one more time to see if I can get a tie-breaker!

Would you be interested in me including new drinks from other parts of the world in the Nonalcoholic News (NAN) section each week??

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Read time: 4 mins 41 sec


Nonalcoholic News my Nan would approve of!

  • 🍷 WINE: More exciting news from Proxies with the release of a new can of Bubbly Red. (link)

  • 🍹 COCKTAILS: A whopping six new RTD cocktails have been launched by Medase Cocktails. (link)

  • 🍹 COCKTAILS: Look out for the Modern Mule from Pari. (link)

  • 🍺 BEER: One becomes three as Shiner Beer adds a Citrus Wit and a Red Amber to ther NA Rode0 line. (link)

NA Cocktail Kit subscription


Raising the Bar was born from the idea of making it easy for people to craft fantastic nonalcoholic cocktails right in their own homes. Each month, Abbie and Devin Romaul design cocktail kits that are shipped to subscribers nationwide. Each box contains a recipe card and quality ingredients that aspiring mixologists can use to create two different cocktails. Additionally, a ready-to-drink canned cocktail is included, and the entire kit promises over 10 drinks, though my current kit makes about 16!

Every month, Abbie develops a new theme that ties all three drinks together, inspired by the ever-expanding NA scene and its innovative products. Her recipes are mostly developed from a vast library of ingredients accumulated over years of testing, occasionally taking cues from the brands she collaborates with.

Unlike meal subscription boxes where you choose your dishes, you have no idea what you are going to get until the Raising the Bar kit arrives. It’s like a nonalcoholic birthday surprise every month. What you can be guaranteed of, though, are high-quality ingredients and, just as importantly, simplicity. The two cocktails I made from the box were very easy to make, and outside of a simple syrup and a tea that needs to be brewed, you can assemble these cocktails within a minute or two.

Raising the Bar’s mission is to provide you with the tools and confidence to create great-tasting, nonalcoholic cocktails at home, allowing you to sample a variety of different drinks throughout the year and enabling you to build a catalogue of cocktails you can draw from. Much like this newsletter, it’s a nudge in the back to explore the huge range of drinks that are now on the market and to feel emboldened to create.

  • 1 Month: $58 / box (plus shipping)

  • 3 Month: $55 / box (plus shipping)

  • 6 Month: $53 / box (plus shipping)

  • 12 Month: $50.75 / box (plus shipping)

One-time boxes and gift certificates also available


  • 2 oz. Cut Above Mezcal

  • 1 oz. lemon juice

  • ¾ oz. honey simple syrup

  • Honeycomb for garnish

Raising the Bar instructions: In a shaker combine Cut Above Mezcal, lemon juice, and honey simple syrup. Shake vigourously for 30 seconds. Add ice to shaker and shake again, until outside of tin is chilled. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with a piece of honeycomb. Prefer your drinkd more tart or sweeter? Adjust the ratio of lemon juice or honey syrup.

The ModSub thoughts: One of the things I was most excited about when I popped the lid on the Raising the Bar cocktail kit was the inclusion of not one but two sample bottles from Cut Above. They have long been on my list of spirits to try, given how highly regarded they are in NA circles, so it was a treat to see their Mezcal and Agave Blanco included.

The Smokeshow is a simple three-ingredient cocktail you can proudly show off at any gathering, with the added bonus that your impressed guests would be none the wiser about how easy it was to pull together. Honey syrup and lemon are equally matched, the sweet and sour embrace complementing the mezcal, with its characteristic smokiness billowing throughout each sip.

Bold yet never overwhelming, as any good mezcal cocktail should be, the Smokeshow is an impressive showstopper, and I'll say it one more time: it's stupidly easy to make.


  • San Diego

  • Calories: 30

  • Sugar: 5g

  • Serving: 12 fl.oz. (2 individual servings)

  • ABV: 0%

  • Buy: improvcocktails.com store finder • widely available online

  • Price: $27.99 (8-pack)

The ModSub thoughts: Not so much in the smoky vein, but a fun RTD to try out nonetheless, and as I happen to be by the beach in California while typing this, it feels like the right drink at the right time.

The Improv Mai Tai is pretty much what it says on the can: chock-full of tropical flavor, a hint of rum, and grounded by the almond of presumably orgeat syrup.

If there’s one minor gripe, it's the lack of rum flavor. If I were at home, I might have added a shot of NA rum to give the spirit flavor a wee bit of a boost. But that’s a personal preference.

However, sitting at a beach bar, watching the waves roll in and the sun start to head down, I’ll be more than happy to order a second one of these.


  • 3 oz. tart cherry juice

  • 3 oz. brewed Oliver Pluff & Co. Lapsang Souchong

  • Optional: lemon twist for garnish

Raising the Bar instructions: Combine tart cherry juice and tea in a wine glass. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Add a lemon twist for extra zest, if desired.

The ModSub thoughts: This one was the surprise of the trio for me. A light red wine alternative, sweet from the combination of cherry and black tea, and finishing with the characteristic smokiness that Lapsang Souchong brings to the table. Arguably, both ingredients on their own are an acquired taste. Together, they create a harmony that is delightful.

I’m looking forward to playing around with this recipe and making some tweaks. For instance, the addition of lemon shifted the drink’s course by a couple of degrees, and it will be fun to see where other ingredients could take this drink.

Given its simplicity, much like the Lady Grey and Tonic I wrote about a few months back, this would be a fabulous drink to pull out of your back pocket at your next dinner party.

One thing before you go. Here’s a great newsletter on fitness and nutrition that I think you should check out. There’s excellent advice on living a more healthy life in this weekly 5-minute read.

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