Designing Craft-Distilled Botanical Drinks With Zero Alcohol

By: Bill McCool

It’s all too common that we sing the praises of whatever spirit is currently wetting our whistle, but what of our teetotaler brethren and their insatiable thirst for non-alcoholic drinks?

Rocktails has created an utterly unique craft-distilled botanical drink, and if we didn’t know any better, we’d swear there was some booze floating around in there. We spoke with Creative Partner Shaun Bowen of B&B studio about the magical alchemy behind Rocktail’s distinct botanical beverage and how they created their exquisite packaging.

Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

Shaun Bowen: Rocktails makes craft-distilled botanical drinks with zero alcohol, designed to drink as is, or as a mixer with the spirit of your choice. The brief was to target sophisticated foodies and take advantage of the growth in the non-alcoholic category. We built a creative strategy for the brand based around the idea of “exquisite combinations,” and we set about creating an icon that would could that idea and packaging in keeping with the codes of the craft spirits category.

What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with Rocktails packaging and how did you accomplish it?

Shaun Bowen: Our main goal was to create something beautiful that bestowed a sense of ritual and quality, whether you’re drinking or not. We achieved that by playing with the craft codes of the premium spirits sector, building a desirable brand that wouldn’t look out of place in a high-end restaurant or bar. We wanted drinkers and non-drinkers alike to enjoy the same crafted and elegant experience.

How did you tell the Rocktails brand story through the packaging?

Shaun Bowen: The design was inspired by the craft behind the drinks. We wanted to reflect the combination of both rare and familiar ingredients that goes into each drink, and we captured this idea through the symbol of a mermaid – the most exquisite combination of the expected and unexpected. The link to ingredients was emphasized through the back label that features an ingredient-inspired illustration that can be seen through the purity of the transparent liquid and bottle.

Is it difficult designing for the non-alcoholic beverage sector? Now that we're seeing more of these botanically-inspired non-alcoholic spirits hitting the market (like Seedlip), we could see it being a challenge to figure out who that audience is.

Shaun Bowen: Figuring out the audience isn’t too challenging. The desire for alcohol alternatives that aren’t sweet or artificial is no longer niche – people, especially younger generations, are drinking less and less. The craft spirits sector has benefited from people desiring to drink less but better, and this is an extension of that desire. It’s not about being teetotal, it’s about having a choice, and being able to find a desirable alternative that is well crafted, complex and credible.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

Shaun Bowen: The most challenging aspect was ensuring originality while sticking to the brief of beauty, elegance and craft. We needed the drink to fit comfortably into the world of spirits, so we had to follow certain codes, but we wanted the added uniqueness of the mermaid and illustration to achieve differentiation and standout.

If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

Shaun Bowen: The mermaid illustration is a brilliant symbol for the Rocktails brand for many reasons. First, it captures the combination of rare and familiar ingredients that go into the drink; secondly, it reflects Rocktails’ location on the coast of Devon, combining the land and the sea. And thirdly, it expresses the ambiguity of the brand’s stance on drinking vs not drinking – it’s up to you who you want to be today.


Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

Shaun Bowen: It’s a continual lesson in design where things that initially feel like restrictions can often become opportunities. The client provided us with the bottle, which although elegant, was tall and narrow. It made it hard to achieve brand stand-out, especially with a more lengthy name like Rocktails. Fortunately, this led to the design of a distinctive diamond-shaped label that enabled us to get the logo up reasonably large, while not encroaching on the view of the back label illustration.


Bill McCool

Bill McCool is a freelance writer based out of Los Angeles. Though new to the world of design, he has always been a storyteller by trade and he seeks to inspire and cultivate a sense of awe with the work and artists he profiles. When he's not winning over his daughters with the art of the Dad joke, he is usually working on a pilot, watching the Phillies, or cooking an elaborate meal for his wife.

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