**Update: Proteau is no longer being produced, but it was great while it lasted!**
This is a taste test and review of Proteau’s two products, Ludlow Red and Rivington Spritz. These are both unique and ready-to-drink botanical beverages, unlike anything you have ever had off the shelf.
Proteau was created by John deBary, an expert mixologist and author of Drink What You Want. His resume is impressive – bartender at PDT in New York and Bar Director at Momofuku group, as well as numerous editorial contributions in the world of food and beverage.
All deBary’s experience in crafting cocktails shows in both Proteau drinks. They are creative, eyebrow-raising conversation starters.
Proteau tastes like that interesting cocktail you got when you asked the bartender to surprise you.
If you want Proteau to taste like something familiar you might be disappointed.
Bottom line: Both Proteau drinks are uniquely blended aperitifs. They do not contain or taste like alcohol, but are a delight to drink, especially Rivington Spritz.
Proteau’s bottles look like ones you would find in the bitters or amaro section of a bottle shop. The label design seems to be a nod to the botanical ingredients used in their products and would stand out on anyone’s home bar.
To be clear, these are bottled cocktails without alcohol. They are made with fruit juice but without added sugar. They are blends of many botanical flavors, but nothing like you have ever had.
So, what does Proteau taste like? Below are the tasting notes for each product, and how best to enjoy them.
What Does Proteau Ludlow Red Taste Like?
At first sip, Ludlow Red was a little jarring – unusual, unfamiliar. It is sweet and floral at first, smooth in texture, but the finish has a lot of licorice. Brand instruction says “perfect with a savory meal or on its own,” so I tried it with dinner.
I poured a big glass of Ludlow Red with a lamb burger and sweet potato fries. Unfortunately, I was thinking of it like wine, and it just didn’t work. The licorice flavor did not pair well with my food. Keep this in mind when pairing Ludlow Red with food.
Expectations can trip you up, and they often do when trying new things. This is especially true in this unchartered territory of AF beverages. As soon as I flipped the switch in my mind that it was a bottled cocktail, it worked.
It’s great with cheese. It’s great on its own. It’s rich and sultry, like a drink you would order late at night at a cool basement bar in New York.
After about 5 days, I finished the bottle, and I never noticed a change in flavor. It was perfect for an aperitif. Try it neat in a coupe glass or on the rocks for a lighter version.
Water, Blackberry Juice Concentrate, Fig Vinegar, Licorice Root Extract, Roasted Danelion Root Extract, Chamomile Extract, Rose Extract, Hibiscus Extract, Black Pepper Extract, chrysanthemum Extract, Honeysuckle Extract, Xanthan Gum.
Contains 34% Blackberry Juice
No added sugar. Suitable for vegetarians
Nutrition: Serving size 5oz: Calories 30; Sugar: 6g; Carbs: 8g
Refrigerate after opening and consume within 10 days.
Mocktails with Ludlow Red
Proteau offers a serving guide for both beverages here. Ludlow Red is great on its own, but if you love to get creative, it mixes well with the classics – club soda, tonic water, even ginger. Get creative with garnish!
When mixed with club soda, Ludlow Red works well with herbaceous and citrus garnishes like rosemary, thyme and lemon.
Fever Tree Refreshingly Light Indian Tonic Water (link to check price on Amazon) is one of my favorite mixers for mocktails, since it is lower in sugar and calories than the classic mix.
With its rich, botanical flavors, Ludlow Red can also be great for making lower ABV cocktails.
For example, Proteau recommends mixing Ludlow Red with sparkling wine for a Kir Royale. Try Noughty Alcohol Free Sparkling Chardonnay for a fully non-alcoholic Kir Royale.
What Does Proteau Rivington Spritz Taste Like?
Rivington Spritz is a unique non-alcoholic spin on the classic spritz cocktail. The flavor is fruity, but vegetal. The carrot extract really shines through giving this a richer flavor profile that your typical sweet and bitter spritz.
Both Ludlow Red and Rivington Spritz are made with real fruit juice concentrate and no added sugar. This allows them to be rich in flavor but lower in sugar content, which is not easy to find in the world of fruit-forward mocktails.
Water, Champagne Vinegar, Strawberry Juice Concentrate, Chamomile Extract, Rhubarb Da Huang, Hibiscus Extract, Gentian Root Extract, Purple Carrot Extract, Xanthan Gum
Contains 32% Strawberry Juice
No added sugar. Suitable for vegetarians
Nutrition: Serving size 5oz: Calories 20; Sugar: 3g; Carbs: 5g
Consume upon opening for best bubbles.
Mocktails with Rivington Spritz
As for Rivington Spritz, it is tasty as-is on ice with an orange wheel garnish. It is meant to be enjoyed on the spot, since the bubbles will fade in less than a day.
Where to Buy Proteau
Production has been suspended on Proteau as of December 2022. Unfortunately you can no longer purchase a bottle of these beverages.
Why You Should Try Proteau
Non-alcoholic beverages are expanding beyond spirit substitutes to new levels of creativity. Proteau is a great example of that.
Spending your hard earned dollars on something unfamiliar can be a bit daunting, which is why I take the time to taste through as much as possible and share exactly how it tastes to me.
Since each of us perceives flavor differently, I also share the ingredients, nutrition facts, and prominent flavors I taste, so you can decide if that sounds good to you. Hopefully we love some of the same things.
Buying Proteau was a bit of a gamble, but turns out, I won that hand.