How it started

Cecilia Rios Murrieta

Founder Cecilia Rios Murrieta

Tim Burton once said that "every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Not necessarily in that order." And in some cases, there are stories that begin with an end. This is the case of JAS. A story that began with the end of my time as a girl who was passionately in love with Mezcal.

In 2009, I took my first trip to Oaxaca and I fell in love. I was captivated by a spirit that was a bit rough around the edges, and at the time, quite misunderstood. I've always been one to go against the current. I consider myself a rebel, a bit of an oddball. So when I had my first encounter with Mezcal I was smitten. Mezcal swept me off my feet by its complex and intricate notes, its artisanal production, its breathtaking backdrops, and its larger than life characters. So in 2012 I went all in. I quit my day job, and decided to launch my own brand. Mezcal had a story to tell and I took it upon myself to share it with every imbiber I came across, thus becoming La Nina del Mezcal.

But a little over 5 years ago I began to question my relationship with alcohol.  Despite loving the journey I was on, the excitement of being an entrepreneur, and the passion that imbues every part of the beverage industry, I began to be curious about what my life could look like if I wasn't drinking all the time. So I experimented with bouts of sobriety. I started with a week, then a month, and then 6 months. For about 2 years I went on and off. Feeling revitalized and energetic when I wasn't drinking.

It wasn't until December 4th of 2018, when I had my last drink. I woke up that morning, after a marathonic wine weekend in Valle de Guadalupe, feeling anxious. My mind was racing and I could hardly sit with myself. I felt like I couldn't breathe. I was in a panic and I couldn't decipher what I was so scared about. I was in a safe space, surrounded by people I love and trust. Nothing bad had happened. My body and my mind were just telling me they had enough. That’s when I realized that alcohol no longer served me. It was when I accepted that as much as I loved what I did, this lifestyle was no longer sustainable and I had to make a choice.

It was the most difficult choice in my life and I was petrified. I was afraid of who I would be without alcohol, and I was afraid of all the moments and experiences I would miss out on if I wasn't drinking. But still, I was determined to live life on my own terms and I never looked back. 

As I began to navigate the world of sobriety, I realized that whenever I went to a bar or a party I could never find beverages that spoke to me and made me feel excited about my choices. A seltzer with lime, a diet coke, or a lemonade were pretty much as good as it got. I wasn't drinking alcohol anymore, but I still wanted to go out and feel excited and intrigued by what I could drink.

And for many non-drinkers like myself, what happens when you go out is that you are constantly bombarded with questions about your choice to not drink alcohol. It happens at practically every social setting where alcohol is served: corporate happy hours, conventions, college parties, and even "wine Mom" gatherings. 

Why aren't you drinking?
At first, I felt these questions were awkward. So I felt the best way to answer would be to tell the truth: alcohol just no longer makes me happy. That would usually be followed by the other dreaded question: Did something happen? Yes. Alcohol happened. It was great for a while, until it wasn't. But looking back on my experience in working with spirits, I realized why we are so fixated on what and why we drink. During my time in the liquor industry, I learned that every sip we take imparts a sense of identity on ourselves. As we grow up, watching our parents' drinking habits, we mature into our own - defining ourselves as scotch, beer, or mezcal drinkers. After all, people had come to know me as the mezcal girl, because I drank and loved mezcal. But it wasn’t until I began to feel curious about sobriety, that my drinking identity would begin to change.

It began as being sober curious. Today, I like to identify myself as alcohol-free (going on 4 years!), but whatever and whenever we choose to drink, we should all have the right to feel good about our choice. Beverages are an extension of our curiosities and passions and even when we're not drinking alcohol, we all have the right to celebrate and express the parts of ourselves that makes us feel alive. That is where JAS comes in. 

A couple of months into being sober, a sense of freedom began to take over me. All of a sudden, I had an enormous amount of time and energy to do the things I always wanted to do. I enrolled in French classes, I excelled in my yoga practice and I even applied and got accepted to an MBA program. I was delighted in my pursuit of an alcohol-free lifestyle and I discovered that I wasn't alone. Left and right, more and more people around me were telling me how they didn't want to feel like they had to drink alcohol all the time.

JAS began with the need to recreate the sensory evocation of a mezcal cocktail for myself. And then it became something much bigger. JAS was born as the result of living my best life and wanting to drink something that would allow me to celebrate it. I wanted to drink something that could give me that same feeling of curiosity and thrill that I would get when I used to drink mezcal, while at the same time making me feel good about my choices - and when I couldn't find that, I felt the need to create it.

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