Drinks with Pat: What ever happened to flavor?

Pat Evans

Dry January might be over, but a Grand Rapids native’s nonalcoholic hemp-infused cocktails recently hit Grand Rapids shelves.

Forest Hills Central graduate John Enghauser’s Jeng is now on the shelves at three Grand Rapids area retailers through Oath Distributing:

  • Horrock’s Market, 4455 Breton Road SE
  • Siciliano’s Market, 2840 Lake Michigan Drive NW
  • Simmy’s Barrel House, 1820 44th St. SW

While he grew up in Ada, Enghauser now is based in Manhattan following a varying career that includes sales and marketing, real estate investing and award-winning songwriting. But at one point, he was chatting with his friend, Colorado-based Chris Lackner.

“He and I were friends at Indiana (University), in a band together and stayed in touch,” Enghauser said. “We were just chit-chatting one day right before the pandemic, lamenting the state of the cocktail industry. White Claw had emerged and a lot of ready-to-drink cocktails were following suit, same with CBD.

“We were trying all these beverages, and we thought, ‘What ever happened to flavor?’”

Enghauser and Lackner then set out to make a beverage that embodied a variety of trends hitting the beverage market: ready-to-drink, hemp-infused and alcohol-free.

And so was born Jeng.

“We were fans of bold, flavored cocktails and craft beers, rather than another watered-down cocktail or CBD seltzer, we set out to make a drink we’d both enjoy,” Enghauser said.

The first started with a take on a Moscow Mule, inspired by an alcoholic version Enghauser had “perfected” for his friends and family. To make it, he scaled back the sugar and increased the fresh lime.

The other two Jeng flavors available include Jeng & Tonic and Paloma, a take on the classic tequila and grapefruit soda cocktail. The beverages are made in Brooklyn.

While nonalcoholic, each can of Jeng contains 11 mg of broad spectrum CBD, which makes it “intentionally sessionable” for regular CBD consumers and “enticing, not intimidating” for those not familiar with CBD.

With an ever-changing beverage industry, Enghauser believes there is plenty of room for Jeng to grow, especially with the recent rise of the sober-curious movement.

“The future of beverages we’re seeing, and the data supports it, is alcohol free,” he said. “We see every indication it will continue to trend alcohol free with the growing trend toward functional and better-for-you beverages.”

It is paying off so far, Jeng sales have grown more than 550% since October, according to Enghauser.

What Pat’s drinking?

Speaking of ready-to-drink cocktails, the other night I was sipping on an RTD from a brand I was sipping straight whiskey from: WhistlePig. The Vermont distillery’s PiggyBack Craft Cocktails are extremely tasty and come in three flavors: Blackberry Lemon Fizz, Session Citrus Mint and Fresh Ginger Lime.

For some local flavor, I was putting together a cabinet for my wife’s office while sipping on some Native Species Winery Cabernet Franc Pet Nat, a delightfully refreshing bubbly red wine.

Valentine’s cocktail idea

Classic vodka brand Stolichnaya sent me this fun Valentine’s cocktail idea: Stoli Sweetheart Martini.

  • 5 parts vodka
  • .05 parts Agave syrup
  • 1 shot of espresso
  • 1 part coffee liqueur
  • 2 teaspoon mascarpone cheese
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • Cocoa powder

Directions: Combine Stoli, espresso, coffee liqueur, mascarpone cheese and agave syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake thoroughly for a consistent foam. Strain into a frozen martini glass, top with cocoa powder and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

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