If anyone who knows how to adapt a party, it’s Melanie Masarin. In June of this year, amidst restaurant and bar closures sweeping the country, she launched Ghia—a non-alcoholic aperitif designed to spark connection without the booze. Summers spent entertaining and cooking with friends in the South of France, sipping on her grandmother’s homemade limoncello, inspired Masarin to create a beverage that doesn’t sacrifice a good time in the pursuit of good health. “I wanted to create a drink for sipping from dusk until dawn that allowed people to wake up the next morning feeling clear-headed and physically well,” she tells Forbes.
Masarin joins a health movement that has only gained momentum during the pandemic—mindful drinking. Last year, 52% of adults in the United States said they wanted to reduce their alcohol intake. This year, with COVID-19 increasing the appetite for healthy drinks, many young people are drinking less alcohol in lockdown. “People want to focus on their health after all the time spent at home,” says Masarin. “Over the next few years, we’re going to continue to see a shift in alcohol consumption with a focus on zero proof options that allow people to enjoy a mocktail in the same way they’d enjoy a cocktail.”
But many zero-proof drinks don’t offer health benefits beyond being alcohol-free. Masarin tells Forbes, “Ghia was designed for flavor and occasion, not function.” Yet, coming from make-up brand Glossier and healthy fast-casual restaurant Dig Inn, it’s no surprise she’s made a beverage that will appeal to the health-conscious, drinkers and non-drinkers alike.
The bright and bitter aperitif has no added sugar and contains nourishing botanicals like gentian root, to aid with digestion, and lemon balm, a natural nervine known to calm the nervous system. “We want to raise the bar for ingredients in liquids,” she says. “To make a bitter drink that has the complexity of an alcoholic drink, without the overly sweet and sugary flavor of usual mocktails, that’s also health-conscious.”
Masarin’s plans for New Year’s Eve? A small dinner with her quarantine pod, with Ghia spritzes of course, “I like to ring every day hangover-free, so why not start the first day of 2021 the way I want to feel the rest of the year?” She’ll be making a festive Ghia with San Pellegrino Tonica Oakwood and a sprig of rosemary, plus Ghia with Prosecco, as a low ABV option.
“Drinking and socializing looks very different in 2020 than what we had initially envisioned,” Masarin says, as she describes her intention to change the way we think about gathering and entertaining. In her personal life, she’s started hosting weekend lunches instead of her usual large dinner parties. In her business, she’s pivoted to prioritize a direct-to-consumer sales approach. Despite the unexpected turns of 2020, Masarin always finds an alternate path to reach the same goal—making herself and everyone around her feel good, inside and out.
Here are her tips for making your New Year’s Eve in quarantine special and starting off 2021 feeling fresh.
“The first tip is to make sure everyone is on the same page about their COVID rules—you don’t want to be responsible for someone feeling unsafe in your home.” Masarin has geography on her side, “We’ve been lucky to have a hot December in LA so we can sit outside in the sun and my guests can linger and chat into the winter night.” But regardless of location, distanced gatherings and staying within your pandemic pod is a must.
Get Creative With Decorations
“Fresh flowers are always a really nice touch. I’ve been going to the LA flower market at the crack of dawn one to two times per week, I can tell it makes my guests happy. Glassware with a personality also makes a dinner party feel really special—I’ve been investing in vintage glasses that I find on eBay and have been having a lot of fun setting the table in different ways.”
Add A Personal Touch
“As a party favor, I’m making little breakfast kits for everyone to take home with fresh OJ, homemade crepe mix, and a special jam I made so they can start 2021 on a really nice note.”
A Minimalist but Consistent Skincare Routine
“My tip is to do very little but do it consistently. Since I haven’t been able to get a haircut or a facial in what feels like an eternity, I’ve been trying to mask more regularly and take good care of my skin. During the day I use SPF 40 to protect my skin from the hours I spend working on my balcony, a liquid exfoliator like Biologique Recherche P50 and a good moisturizer before bed.”
Dress Like You’re Not In Quarantine
“I think I’ve worn makeup twice this whole year, so it will be nice to dress up a bit for New Year’s! I’m encouraging everyone to wear the holiday outfits they’d typically wear on NYE and finish it off with a red lip.”
Self-Care That Gives Back
“It sounds silly, but my one resolution this year was to learn how to make pasta from scratch. It’s been so meditative and calming for me. Learning a new skill is a more fun way to approach the year than a long list of unrealistic resolutions. This holiday break, I’ll be making fresh batches of pasta for the people that have made my quarantine experience more enjoyable. Ending the year with thoughtful gestures is the best way I can think of to close out 2020.”
Some interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.