By: Charlene Aviles, Staff Writer
Since I started drinking a few years ago, I’ve yet to find my drink of choice. I’ve tried numerous suggestions, but all were too bitter for me. Recently, I’ve found the non-alcoholic versions of classic cocktails appeal to me more. Noticing this was a growing trend among consumers — and not just during Dry January — award-winning mixologist Christos Kalaitzis founded OPUS Cocktails. In an interview with The Peak, he described his passion for mixology and further inspiration behind OPUS.
Wanting a change of scenery, Kalaitzis left his barista job to pursue mixology, eager to experiment with new flavours and techniques.
“There is always room for putting your own touch and [taking] things to the next step,” said Kalaitzis.
OPUS’ new line of drinks features both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions. According to Kalaitzis, “We are one of the very few companies globally that do both.
“The mission of OPUS is to create 100% handcrafted cocktails at a safe and sustainable environment for both drinkers and non-drinkers,” said Kalaitzis. With OPUS, consumers can have an enjoyable drinking experience, whether they want something alcoholic or not.
Their innovative approach to cocktails earned them two silver medals at the 2021 San Diego Spirits Festival. The brand gained widespread support from coast to coast and quickly expanded out of BC. It is now available in grocery stores and liquor stores across Canada.
From their recyclable packaging to their tree planting initiatives, OPUS’ commitment to sustainability is central to the brand’s operations. In response to BC’s recent devastating wildfire season, OPUS began planting a tree with every alcohol-free box sold. By October 2021, they had planted 323 trees, and plan to continue this initiative.
“We need to make sure that we leave the world a better place than we take it,” he said.
After speaking to Kalaitzis, I was even more interested in trying their non-alcoholic aperitivo spritz and gin and tonic. Here were my first impressions:
Have a sweet tooth? This is the drink for you! As soon as I opened the can, the grapefruit smell caught my attention. Since the ingredients also included rhubarb and orange, I expected a tart cocktail, but this drink was a pleasant surprise. The citrus fruits complemented each other. It made me forget about Vancouver’s dreary weather.
The cucumber and mint was a refreshing combination. Artificial mint flavours tend to be overwhelming, but the natural mint here blended well with the gin and tonic nicely. The hint of lime was a nice touch to complete the drink. I preferred the spritz more, because of its sweet and fruity flavour. In comparison, the flavours in this drink were rather mild. I still give it 4.5 though because mint is one of my favourite flavours.