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How Aussie barman’s hangover led to innovative business idea

Want to cure a hangover? You can't, but you could stop drinking. Images: supplied

Dry mouth, pounding head and worst of all - the shakes. As anyone who has ever had a hangover knows, it’s not much fun.

But for Australian man Tim Triggs, a hangover was also a major moment of inspiration.

The founder of 100 per cent alcohol-free spirits brand, ALTD Spirits, Triggs was an Aussie barman who had worked at some of Australia’s ritziest restaurants, like Otto Ristorante and the Bathers Pavilion in Sydney before moving into the notoriously booze-heavy media industry.

By the time Triggs had two young children, he realised something had to give. Frequent drinking meant that while he was still getting everything done that he needed to, bad hangovers were taking away from family time.

“I was getting frustrated with it. I kind of felt stuck in the matrix. I wanted to pull out the cord and get out of the jelly egg,” Triggs said.

After giving up alcohol for what was planned to be just six months when his first child was two years old, Triggs kicked the habit for good.

Image: supplied

And then he got an idea: unable to drink alcohol, but missing the flavours of botanical spirits, Triggs launched ALTD Spirits (Alternative Drink), made from native Australian botanicals and 100 per cent alcohol free.

“I wanted to create a range of spirits that allowed you to still go out with friends and have a good time, but not leading you to write off the following day.”

Image: supplied

Now, it’s a full-time job for Triggs, after he gave up his marketing career.

And it’s working out: the botanicals drinks are stocked in high-profile Melbourne restaurants like Attica, Stokehouse, Anchovy and soon-to-be-announced, Dinner By Heston Blumenthal. And in Sydney, up-market restaurant like Chiswick, Paperbark, Pilu and Reign @ QVB also serve the drinks.

“[I’m] pretty proud of our growing list of stockists for sure.”

How do you start a distillery?

What started in a kitchen space in Artarmon is now in “much larger” shared space in Marrickville, with vodka and gin distillery, Mobius Distillery.

But Triggs had a few advantages in his pocket: he was already learning about distilling fragrances, and understood the importance of calling on experts to guide him.

“When I started ALTD Spirits I was working on a different side project which was fragrance related. I had been learning a lot about different fragrances, where they came from and how to blend them,” Triggs said.

Image: supplied

“When you don’t drink you have a lot of extra time on your hands, and I spent a huge amount of that on YouTube, reading books on distillation and I began to work with a master distiller in New Zealand who continues to mentor me along the journey.

“The distilling aspect of things was one of the surprises for me, in that I actually very much fell in love with the process and working with different botanicals particularly where they come from and how best to handle them so as to get the best results.”

What’s in the future?

Image: supplied

While Triggs is loathe to tell other Australians what to drink, he believes that a sober lifestyle is becoming more and more accepted.

And he’s right: according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more young Australians are choosing to go alcohol-free. In 2016-17, Australians aged between 24 and 29 were the most likely to have cut back on alcohol, with Australians as a whole drinking just under 10 litres a year on average - the lowest figure since the early 1960s.

“I see the non-alcoholic drinks movement and growth of the category a little similar to how vegetarianism and veganism was five to 10 years back,” Triggs said.

“There has been a mindset shift from what was once was looked at quite negatively, as an odd, subcultural way of life to now, far more widely accepted and acknowledged. I think a similar mindset shift is imminent with alcohol-free spirits and other non-alcoholic alternatives.”

Is alcohol a problem for you?

There are Alcohol and Drug Information Centres in each state offering support 24 hours a day.

Australian Capital Territory Alcohol & Drug Program : 02 6205 4545

New South Wales : 02 9361 8000 (Sydney) or 1800 422 599 (NSW regional and rural)

Northern Territory Alcohol & Other Drug Services : 1800 629 683 (NT general) or 08 8922 8399 (Darwin) or 08 8951 7580 (Alice Springs)

Queensland ADIS : 07 3837 5989 or 1800 177 833

South Australia ADIS : 08 8363 8618 or 1300 131 340

Tasmania ADIS : 03 6233 6722 or 1800 811 994

Victoria Directline : 1800 888 236

Western Australia ADIS : 08 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024

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