Aurora Elixirs founder, Victoria Pustynsky, became a beverage entrepreneur back in 2017 after over a decade-long corporate career in wine and spirits. The Reed College graduate returned to Portland from her native Brooklyn just as recreational cannabis was being legalized in Oregon. She watched with curiosity as an influx of newly legal THC infused products flooded into the first dispensaries and saw an early opportunity that could leverage her background in beverage with the newly emerging cannabis industry. “I really wanted to introduce an elevated, plant-forward beverage that could fit into a cocktail occasion, but without the alcohol; subtle relaxation without inebriation,” says Victoria. The upfront costs and regulatory hurdles of bringing a licensed cannabis product to market motivated Victoria to explore CBD. After several months of R&D, Aurora launched with two flagship flavors of hemp infused sparkling beverages with 25mg of Oregon-grown broad spectrum CBD. Over the course of two years, three additional botanically inspired flavors were added.
Always curious and looking to innovate in the non-alcoholic beverage space, Victoria and her team began searching for their next plant-forward infusion to add to Aurora’s offerings. “After blending and tasting over a dozen combinations of plant extracts associated with relaxation, restoration, calm, and cleansing, it became obvious that hops would be the ideal complement to our current lineup of drinks,” says Victoria. “Our hops infused line is beautifully complex and really showcases the versatility of hops beyond simply bittering beers.”
In the Pacific Northwest, hops are all around us. Most notably, brewers have let them shine in IPA’s, highlighting their aromatics and often earthy, bitter qualities. It came as no surprise that these botanical buds are cousins to cannabis, both belonging to the Cannabaceae plant family. This alignment, along with a flavor-first approach, inspired the Aurora team to highlight the nuanced taste profile of hops beyond simply a non-alcoholic beer, creating a botanically-inspired line of beverages perfect for any occasion. It was also an opportunity for this mostly female team to add a unique perspective to a product category strongly associated with male brewers.
Aurora’s line of sparkling hops drinks is currently available in two balanced and refreshing flavors, Pomelo Sage and Yuzu Orange Blossom. Crafted in small batches in Oregon, they highlight sustainably grown Willamette Valley hops. Pomelo Sage features the distinct citrus and light floral aromas of Citra hops balanced with pomelo pith and the piney herbal sweetness of sage. Aurora’s Yuzu Orange Blossom highlights a blend of Mosaic and Citra hops and is tart and fragrant. It has delicate floral notes and is balanced with the woodiness of peppercorn for an overall light, aromatic, and earthy taste.
With a commitment to working with regionally sourced whole-plant extracts and all natural ingredients, Aurora’s botanical spritzes are quite nuanced. Not just another brand of flavored seltzers or a high calorie saccharine sweet sodas, Aurora’s beverages remain low in calories while bringing balanced, inspired flavors to those curious enough to imbibe in something truly special.