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The School of UnLearning: Wellness

Let Your Nature Thrive with Curiosity

Curiosity is Salt Lake City's first zero proof (read: alcohol-free) bottle shop and bar, mixing up cool and tasty spins on 'mocktails' that anyone can enjoy. Our founder and CEO Denise Cartwright sat down with Curiosity co-founders Erica Bruin and Rae Plewe to talk shop - check it out below!

Tell us about yourselves! How did you two come together?

Erica - We came together after discussing interest in opening a bottle shop after a long break from alcohol in 2021. Co-founder Raegan Plewe had just moved back from Berlin shortly after the pandemic. With interest in the topic, Rae added the idea of creating a bar/coffee shop environment to the bottle shop. Our ideas melded together perfectly and this is how Curiosity started.

Rae - Erica and I have been in each other's lives for a very long time, always inspiring growth in one another. It was no surprise that we ended up in the same state of questioning our relationship to alcohol. We have always sparked creativity in one another, so it has been incredible to see that spark develop into this massive project! We are in such an incredible state of growth. 

Two women stand in front of a colorful bottle display at Curiosity.

Why did you start Curiosity? Tell us a bit about the idea behind the concept.

Erica - I personally was not drinking for a long period of time due to drinking way too much during the pandemic. I listened to many podcasts and read some wonderful books that had given me some interest in non-alcoholic brands and concepts popping up around the US. I was interested in the business concept of a bottle shop and providing Salt Lake some more options for drinking things that didn't involve alcohol but still felt ritualistic of alcohol. Rae really pulled the concept together with the most beautiful intention of creating a space for people to gather and connect in a safe space without the need for booze. It really added so much meaning behind it because initially it was a business move for me with previous experience of opening a retail shop and creating a product brand in the past. I don't think Curiosity would be what it is without partnering with Rae.

Rae - I have always really loved creating and consuming complex beverages that piqued one's curiosity and opened them up to having a meaningful, connective experience. But as I continued to work on my health, I started changing my lifestyle, reevaluating what I was consuming and if it was actually benefiting my overall happiness. I found myself conflicted with my love for drinking culture and my desire to be healthy, present, and clear minded. When Erica began to introduce me to the world of nonalcoholic spirits, I realized it was possible to have both! Curiosity was created to be the space that I always wished existed. Somewhere that you can go to experience the elegant connective aspects of a cocktail bar, while exploring what it means to live a healthy and conscious life. I believe that we need more safe community spaces where important conversations can be had with a clear state of mind. Curiosity is my way of giving the community an option to experience a new way of life.

It’s been really fun to watch the alcohol-free movement take off. There are so many great brands developing delicious and creative alternatives, often with health-boosting ingredients like superfoods and adaptogens. What’s exciting to you about this industry?

Erica - I think my favorite things to see pop up are the spirits that are adding mood boosting benefits like nootropics and other herbal components. I have studied herbalism in the past so it makes me so happy to see two things I love coming together in one product.

Rae - Our 'herbal elixirs' are definitely one of the most popular things that we sell, and for good reason! I love sharing the idea that there are other herbs and ingredients that can gently change your mood, without the side effects that alcohol has. It’s an exciting way to evoke that state of expansive curiosity, as people try and experience new flavors AND new states of consciousness.

A woman holds an alcohol-free beverage in front of a bottle display at Curiosity.

What’s your favorite Curiosity drink?

Erica - This is tricky since our menu changes a lot, but currently the Man-in-a-Hat. A bit of a take on a Manhattan with the added Three Spirit Social Elixir giving you those mood boosting benefits I enjoy so much.

Rae - My favorites are always changing, but I always go back to our version of one of my favorite classic cocktails: the Nuevo Negroni. We use Dhōs Bittersweet Rhubarb, Dhōs Ginfree, housemade sweet vermouth, and a hint of celery bitters. I'll never get sick of this drink! 

What do you hope to see for the future of Salt Lake City?

Erica - In regards to our business, I hope to see the interest in drinking less alcohol and getting a bit more connected to one another in other ways like hanging out with us and seeing what it's like socializing in other environments without alcohol.

Rae - I hope that in the future SLC can become a less polarized city, in many ways, but specifically around the topic of what we choose to consume. I'm hoping to inspire a community that is able to learn from each other's differences, with the awareness to grow collectively and independently into a state of balance. 

A variety of alcohol-free bottles in a colorful display at Curiosity

At CRUDE we think a lot about finding homeostasis, and the magic that happens when you get out of the way and ‘let your nature thrive’. How do you let your nature thrive?

Erica - This is a great question and a hard one as well. As much as I think I work too much, I also feel like this is my way of thriving. I feel like I have put a lot of effort into the community with my businesses and it feels good to think about. Just trusting and allowing myself to do what I do in that regard seems thriving to me. 

Rae - It is very important to me that I create space in my life to let my nature thrive. I live a busy life, but I always make time to slow down to reconnect with myself through meditation, baths, journaling, long walks, creative outlets, etc. I'm a big believer in taking time to meet your own needs before trying to meet anyone else's. The stillness in my life allows me to stay connected to my true nature, that in turn allows me to connect more to my environment and the people in it. 

Curiosity is a delicious alternative to the pub crawl and an exciting new entry to Salt Lake City nightlife! Follow them on Instagram @curiosityslc for more.

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