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Sober & Sophisticated

Tilden’s twist on your next night out 

By Isabella Ballerini

“I'm never drinking again!” 

We’ve all heard it before, the age old phrase spoken by every single person the morning after a night out. While it might feel tangible in the moment, how many of us have actually been able to make a change? In the past, going sober might have meant getting stuck ordering sodas and Shirley Temples at the bar, but times are changing and so is the stigma around sobriety. With so many blossoming new options for elegant alcohol-free drinks on a night out, it might finally be the perfect time to try something new, and I bet it’s a lot easier than you think

Tilden non-alcoholic cocktails have already woven themselves into our community. Created by Santa Barbara local Vannessa Royle and her partner Mariah Wood, these beverages can be found in city staples such as Barbareño, El Encanto, Bettina, and many more restaurants, bars and hotels. So what about these drinks is making them so popular? I had to find out for myself. Sitting down with Vanessa, we spoke about her journey with sobriety, the start of the company and the unique ways in which the Santa Barbara community has supported her and Mariah through their development. 

Not unlike the rest of us, Vanessa used to enjoy a drink on a night out, but when the pandemic hit she took a step back, reflecting on her health. Cooped up indoors, she cut out drinking to make a positive change during such a turbulent time. Not surprisingly, she ended up finding out that life as a non-drinker offered her more opportunities to live in the moment and make genuine connections with those around her. Sadly, she quickly realized that reintroducing herself to the world as a non-drinker presented a new set of challenges. When asked what sparked Tilden she noted that she was simply frustrated by the lack of quality, sophisticated non-alcoholic options on the market. 

Tilden is not a mocktail; it has been crafted with intention, straying away from copying existing alcoholic beverages and creating a new experience for the drinker. “It’s made to be a product that people feel proud to hold–not flashy, but sophisticated, elevated and adult.” Alongside her partner Mariah, Vanessa created a product free from mind and mood altering materials, a drink that renders drinkers present in the moment. 

Currently the company offers two flavors, Tandem and Lacewang. Tandem, both Vanessa and Mariah’s favorite, is a more robust flavor with notes of tart cherry and bitter orange, whereas Lacewang is lighter with aromatics of cucumber and basil. Vanessa also managed to give me the inside scoop on their new flavor coming out soon, hinting that it’s going to be tart and very distinctive. What I believe makes this brand stick out from others in its market is the palpable beginning, middle and finish that these flavors provide. Once you try Tilden, you can really understand why its success has skyrocketed in the past year. When I tried Tandem for the first time Vanessa recommended that I heat it up and serve it with cinnamon on top…genius. The warm oaky flavor was unique, coating my palate in spices and a lingering, pleasant burn that kept me wanting more. With different ways to garnish their drinks, Tilden allows their customers to truly customize their drinking experience. Why wait for dry January? Try Tilden on your next night out and finally wake up thinking, “I can’t wait to drink that again.”


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