Atlanta's first non-alcoholic bottle shop Zero Proof serves up flavorful alternatives

The Zero Proof Co. Bottle Shop is Atlanta's first non-alcoholic bottle shop. (Courtesy of Malory Atkinson)

Multiple studies have shown that millennials and members of Gen Z are drinking less alcohol than previous generations. Sales of non-alcoholic beverages and cocktails have become increasingly popular in recent years. “City Lights” producer Summer Evans recently learned about an Atlanta-based beverage company that’s serving up an alternative, and she spoke with Cory Atkinson, the co-owner of The Zero Co. Bottle Shop, as well as The Zero Proof CEO and Co-Founder Sean Goldsmith about Atlanta’s first non-alcoholic bottle shop.

Interview highlights:

How two best friends, both on breaks from drinking, compared notes and got inspired:

“[Trevor Wolf and I] just started talking about how great we were feeling, and also what we were drinking, and that led us to searching around the internet and finding a handful of products that were available,” said Goldsmith. “We started this blog,, to talk about the products… Everything out there was really about recovery at the time, and we thought there was a different conversation to be had just around lifestyle and these interesting, really premium and delicious drinks. And that led to us starting to import all of these incredible products from Europe where this N.A. trend is much further along, and we launched an e-comm business and it was off to the races.”

Bringing in beverage curator and owner of Elemental Spirits, Cory Atkinson:

“We opened Elemental Spirits Co. in 2020 and really focused on creating a customer-focused, experience-driven bottle shop where you can come in and explain what you’re trying to make at home or what meal you’re making and have one of our staff be able to curate you an amazing experience with wine and spirits. And early on we found that the non-alcoholic part of that was a huge piece too,” Atkinson said. “Our journey to open The Zero Proof Co. really was started with the idea that just because you’re not drinking alcohol doesn’t mean that you don’t crave the same experiences that someone that is drinking alcohol would want.”

He went on, “So we really worked with The Zero Proof to carry everything that they were bringing in, and try to give them feedback on things that the customers were liking and things that they were doing with these products. And we just saw the space continue to evolve and grow, and I felt there was a time and a place, and now was that, in terms of getting a non-alcoholic shop going.”

Clever techniques and intriguing ingredients enhancing booze-free drinks:

“You’re starting with a base — sometimes that base is a spirit with the alcohol removed. Sometimes it is a water-based beverage, but it really comes down to these highly complex and proprietary blends of extracts and flavors, trying to come up with something that really replicates the mouthfeel and obviously the taste and flavor and experience, and the burn of alcohol,” Goldsmith explained.”One of the brands that we import to the U.S., ISH from Copenhagen, one of their methods is they’ve got a special way to extract the heat from the shells of capsicum chilies which they then put into their gin and rum and tequila alternatives, which just gives you a really pleasant, natural-feeling burn like you would experience from drinking an alcoholic cocktail.”

“I tend to really enjoy just things over ice, and so we have a new product called ‘Pathfinder,’ which is a hemp-based, really, really bitter, almost like an amaro-meets-fernet sort of vibe,” said Atkinson. “It’s super great just over a big ice cube with an orange peel, and I’ll drink that. And then honestly, it’s so flavorful,  I’ll sip over it for an hour at the end of the night. If I’m making something more like Friday night, I like to use ISH agave. It’s got a really nice agave-forward flavor, nice sweetness from that agave flavor, and… that little spice from the pepper on the finish with a little bit of lime juice and a little bit of simple syrup is a really nice margarita alternative.”

Store information, online retail and recipes from The Zero Proof Co. are available at