Alcohol-free cocktails

Interview with Matthias Soberon: the Cocktail Artist

With over 100k followers on Instagram, Matthias Soberon is much more than a mixologist: he’s a true artist, pushing the boundaries of creativity in cocktails.

Matthias Soberon - Cocktail sans alcool

In this period of Dry January, Matthias generously shared with us four of his exclusive creations, all made from Vintense alcohol-free wines: the alcohol-free Cobbler, the alcohol-free Pina Colada, the alcohol-free Gloria and the alcohol-free AirMail.

In this fascinating interview, Matthias reveals his journey, his inspirations and his passion for the art of non-alcoholic mixology. Prepare to be inspired and amazed by Matthias Soberon’s unique talent and vision.

1. Hi Matthias! First of all, for those who don’t know you yet, could you give us a quick introduction?

Hi! My name is Matthias Soberon. I am 34 years old and live in Ghent (Belgium). Professionally, I teach musical education and English and do cocktail consultancy/photography, both in house and for bars.

2. Matthias, tell us a little about how you fell into the fabulous world of mixology! What inspires you most when you create your unique cocktails?

I got into it by seemingly preferring cocktails and mixers over drinking beer and wine. It was even through cocktails that I slowly got into those two later on. In 2016 I built a homebar in the basement of my previous home, to just “learn how to mix”, made an Instagram page to collect my work, and well… 7 years later, here I am.

What inspires me the most when creating drinks is the world of flavors and what drinking a cocktail does to your sense of escapism. There are so many great quality “products”, but for me the true essence of teleporting yourself out of this crazy world we live in (and the ultimate way to wind down) is sipping a drink that brings a whole spectrum of flavors by combining all types of ingredients.

3. Wow, over 100K followers on Instagram, that’s crazy! How have social networks, especially Instagram, helped you share your passion for cocktails?

I mainly started Instagram late 2016, early 2017 to “log my own work”. I could take a quick photo of the drinks I made, write the recipe underneath and that was it. I did notice fairly quickly that there was a small but dedicated community on there doing “the same thing” I was doing. With the popularity of cocktails rising over the years my work was picked up and it made me challenge myself to aim for better “content” as well (both in terms of recipes as photography).

Admittedly, I am mainly a photographer, so I never really got into TikTok or YouTube to share my work, but in that way I feel Instagram is still the most perfect app to share my work with my audience (even though video got way more important there as well).

4. Tell us, what do you think will be the next big cocktail in the world ? And between you and me, what’s your favourite cocktail, and why?

Haha, the big question! In terms of “strength”, I do think low-and-no ABV drinks are still on the rise, with both producers of products and people creating drinks pushing themselves. I also don’t think we’re done in the least with “less-generic” flavors. People drinking dare to push their boundaries.

My favorite cocktail will likely forever be a classic “Trader Vic’s Mai Tai”: High quality, full-bodied Rum(s), Orange Liqueur (Curaçao), lime juice and almond orgeat (possibly split with regular sugar syrup) over crushed ice with a spent lime shell and mint as garnish. Why? When made correctly I think it’s the single drink that can always render me silent and transfer me out of this world. That, or a good Daiquiri (with coffee cocktails following closely). But cocktails depend so much on moods as well.

5. Speaking of creations, what ingredients or techniques are your favourites when you set out to create a new cocktail?

I love finding the balance between classics/easy to recreate cocktails and those that push the limits a bit more. I’ll happily make my own syrups and/or cordials, but not in the same sense a bar owner of a qualitative cocktail bar does. They have to think of a balance of the entire menu, I can just look at each drink on its own. Also, due to me doing everything from home I don’t necessarily have access (or feel the urge) to experiment with (or invest in) expensive equipment.

Finding that balance of pushing myself without straying too far away from simplicity is kind of the happy place I reside in.

6. You’ve seen attitudes towards non-alcoholic cocktails evolve over the years. What’s struck you most about this change, as a mixology pro?

The quality of the products on the market. I think that each segment of the market (from beers to spirits, wines to aperitivi) have seen an exponential growth in the products available. At this point I can easily name “several brands” per category of whom I enjoy their product(s).

In bars, the concept of alcoholfree drinks has also found its place. Most (premium) bars will have at least 2-3 drinks that fit the feeling, allure and quality of the rest of the menu.

7. Are you taking part in Dry January?

I’d say I am someone who partakes in “conscious January”. I don’t like limiting myself completely, but I do drink a lot less, with asking myself each occasion that could regularly contain a drink (or several drinks) whether I “couldn’t just skip it”.

8. What do you see as the latest trends in the world of non-alcoholic drinks and alternatives?

More of the same what we have been seeing the past 3-4 years. With specific alternatives (like Wine, Gin, Beer) getting closer (in term of flavor, feeling and quality) to their alcohol-containing counterparts, yet also a world of products that stand on their own, which not necessarily function as “an alternative”.

Same in terms of drinking. An alcoholfree drink won’t just be “the same cocktail without the booze”, I believe in a selection of well-crafted and well-curated drinks that have the same appeal and receive the same love. People drinking them because they’re delicious, not just “because they aren’t drinking alcohol”.

pina colada sans alcool - alcohovrij pina colada - vintense
9. When you create mocktails with Vintense alcohol-free wines, what is your approach? What was your inspiration for the Terra Colada?

When I’m creating alcoholfree drinks I try to approach them from several corners. First of all: Which flavors do I like myself? Which builds are easily enough for people to tackle themselves? Do they contain flavors people aren’t too afraid of using.

With the Terra Colada I took a drink of which people immediately know what the flavor profile is, yet teasing them to try it in a “lighter” way. (In the same way there is a beautiful classic “Champagne Colada” as well.). What’s also important is that a drink has enough mouthfeel. The combination of pineapple juice and homemade coconut cream give a drink that still tastes round and full.

10. Finally, Matthias, how do you see Vintense’s mission and the quality of their alcohol-free wines?

I firmly believe in (and support) brands that push themselves in any category. Having tried several of your wines, I am convinced there is a world out there for people who don’t want/can’t drink alcohol yet still enjoy the flavor spectrum (sparkling) wines bring, and Vintense does seem to be a strong player in this world.

Blason Vintense