Restaurants / Bars

Inside Rice Village’s Sipple — Texas’ Only Alcohol-Free Bottle Shop For Adults

New Haven Prepares to Unveil Chef Chris Shepherd and Bayou City Hemp Co.'s CBD Ranch Water

BY // 01.06.22
photography Therron Francis

Almost from the day that Bayou City Hemp Co. placed its Mixer Elixer Ranch Water on the shelves at Sipple, Texas’ only alcohol-free bottle shop, the CBD-infused seltzer has been selling out weekly. Placement in the Rice Village spot four weeks ago was a test of the market before Bayou City Hemp officially launches the drink at a public event there this Saturday, January 8. It is perfect timing for those observing Dry January.

Since opening Sipple in October in a bungalow at 2410 Quenby, owners Helenita and Danny Frounfelkner have hosted late Saturday afternoon tastings in the quaint shop that boasts some 50 brands and 150 products. This Saturday from 3 to 6 pm, the focus will be on Mixer Elixer Ranch Water.

“Our first partnership with Chris Shepherd (a partnership unrelated to development of Ranch Water) helped us better understand the demand for non-alcoholic alternatives from restaurants, and how to tailor the flavor notes of our additives to complement cocktails,” Bayou City Hemp co-founder and CEO Ben Meggs says in a release.

The Bayou City Hemp contingent will provide three tastings that showcase the various uses of Mixer Elixer Ranch Water. The seltzer will be served as a stand alone beverage, mixed with Ritual, the popular tequila alternative, to create  a non-alcoholic Texas Ranch Water, and mixed into a fiery Rattlesnake mocktail. Bayou City Hemp’s Ranch Water contains 25mg of hemp-derived CBD, infused via the team’s nano-emulsion innovation to make it easier for the body to absorb the CBD and feel the effects faster.

The zero-proof, zero-calories and zero-sugar of Ranch Water is in keeping with the Frounfelkners’ philosophy that guides their carefully curated collection of “adult non-alcoholic beverages.”

“We don’t believe in trading alcohol for sugar,” Danny tells PaperCity.

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DSC07499 (Photo by Therron Francis)
The shelves at Sipple are fully stocked with a wide variety of alcohol-free bottles. (Photo by Therron Francis)

With 20 years in the hospitality business, much of it as a beverage director and sommelier, and with experience producing wines in his native California and Italy, Danny Frounfelkner brings a special expertise to the world of alcohol-free drink options. During the year he’s spent working on Sipple, Danny says that he talked to some 150 brands and tasted 300 to 400 different products.

Danny had slowed down his alcohol consumption before the pandemic and during the shutdowns he stopped drinking altogether. Like many who avoid alcohol for health reasons, religious constraints or simply personal preference, the Sipple owner is excited about the fast-paced growth in the industry of alcohol-free beverages. He’s not talking grocery store alcohol-free wine. Rather he is talking about sophisticated taste points in all of the offerings that Sipple carries.

“There is a lot of horrible non-alcoholic wine on the market. It’s adult grape juice,” he says.

Sipple stocks alcohol-free beers, wines, spirits and aperitifs and the owners are on hand to provide insights on the various products and suggestions for mixing mocktails.

Helen Frounfelkner notes that during Christmas and the New Year, business was booming as hosts were stocking their home bars with alcohol-free alternatives for the growing number of individuals who are forgoing the drink. These hosts, she said, are looking for something more than Topo Chico or a soft drink to offer friends.

“Non-alcoholic is just about options for people at home, in restaurants, bars whether you’re taking a night off from alcohol, a month off or a whole year or a lifetime,” Danny says. “No matter what your why is, we have a lot of options.”

For the record, he allows that he imbibes in Mixer Elixer Ranch Water on a daily basis, particularly at night just to take the edge off of the day.

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