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Meet the producer | Kerstin Robinson, NIX&KIX

Meet the producer | Kerstin Robinson, NIX&KIX

When long-time friends Kerstin Robinson and Julia Kessler went clubbing, they often craved a soft drink that wasn’t boring water, sugary fruit juice or fizzy pop. It was a night out with a teetotal single friend who they found propping up the bar with a cranberry juice that made them decide to take action.

“We thought ‘Well, this doesn’t look very sexy!’ He complained how difficult it was for him to find something to drink that’s cool, interesting and non-alcoholic,” Kerstin recalls. “There was a gap in the market for a great tasting adult soft drink. Most options are really sugary or just very boring – there was nothing with a full taste (or kick!), but not too sweet. That’s when we started.” And so the concept of NIX&KIX began.

The London-based pair quit their successful, well-paid corporate jobs in banking and management and devoted themselves to experimenting with flavours, preparing recipes in the kitchen at home. “We didn’t want to make just another lemon and lime drink. You want to try experience other flavours when you have a premium drink.”

The special ingredient that would revolutionise soft drinks? Chilli. They discovered how adding chilli could create a flavour that’s infinitely more adult and sophisticated than your typical lemonade and give the kick that their name promises. Chilli also comes with a wealth of health benefits such as speeding up the metabolism.

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“Chilli is a great mood booster, it gets your endorphins going, so it’s similar to when you drink alcohol or when you eat or drink something sugary, or exercise – you get a rush”, explains Kerstin. “The rush people find exciting and get a bit addicted to as well. But it doesn’t have any side effects, so it’s a really good replacement for an alcoholic drink. Some people even feel like it’s alcoholic.”

Take it from us – the three flavours they concocted are truly delectable. Refreshing cucumber and mint, sweet peach and vanilla and zingy mango and ginger also work tremendously well as mixers. Cucumber and mint pairs beautifully with gin, while mango and ginger makes an ideal companion to rum.

To keep the drinks healthy, they experimented with ingredients to keep the sugar content low, while still keeping them natural, since so many soft drinks contain artificial sweeteners. If you compare their drinks with the average ginger beer, NIX&KIX has an impressive 25 per cent of the sugar content.

“We made sure that the flavour profile is sophisticated enough that it would be great as a mixer, so you get the flavour of the premium spirit come through a lot better than you would with a sugary soft drink.”

NIX&KIX make ideal accompaniments to spicy food such as Thai or Japanese, and even to give a less exotic meal a flavour uplift. And in the Christmas period, when meals become more heavy and meat-focused, NIX&KIX is great for palate-cleansing and cutting through the grease, especially the cucumber and mint flavour. “And if you indulge on the food side, it’s nice to make sure you’re not taking in a lot of calories and sugar when you’re drinking.”

All the ingredients are sourced as locally as possible. It might come as a surprise that the UK is such a big grower of chillis that we export them to countries such as Pakistan. NIX&KIX buy theirs from Bedfordshire, while they source the very best Alfonso mangos from India, and the juiciest peaches from the forests in Kerstin and Julia’s native Bavaria.

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People with a wariness of chilli need not be scared off – the drinks are not overpoweringly spicy. “It’s more like an after kick; it’s really just the experience that there’s something else there that is a bit more exciting. It’s not going to blow your head off or anything like that! People always smile when they have their first sip of NIX&KIX, because the kick comes after you’ve already tasted the flavour and probably when you least expect it!” Cucumber and mint is especially interesting because the kick from the chilli comes after the coolness, almost like a flavour journey.

It’s no surprise that NIX&KIX have found themselves served at many a networking event. It’s the ideal drink to break the ice when meeting strangers, or on those awkward first dates. “It’s the perfect conversation starter”, says Kerstin. “Someone will come along and say ‘You’re having a drink with chilli!’ It’s new and different so people are intrigued.”

Find NIX&KIX at Tabl.