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What the @#*$ is a Zerologist?

What the @#*$ is a Zerologist?

Disruptors of drinks lists. Enemies of average. Alcohol-free adventurers. Christine Parkinson and James Morgan have been called many (many) things throughout their distinguished careers. We hope you’ll come to call them the guiding light of your alcohol-free forays. We simply call them our Zerologists.

Scroll on to get to know them a little bit better, or click here to discover how the Zero.Zilch.Zip. curation absorbed their lives (and palates) for four days in the Autumn of 2021.

On their career to date:

Christine: I’d been in the hospitality industry since my twenties, initially as a chef, before moving into food and beverage management, and eventually becoming Head of Wine for Hakkasan restaurant group. It was quite a privilege being trusted to shape the drinks list for an international group of Michelin-starred restaurants… and it led me to the wonderful world of alcohol-free.

James: I’ve had a similarly long history in the hospitality industry. Firstly, in some of Australia’s best-known restaurants, before ending up in London, where I honed my skills before eventually opening my own place. It wasn’t quite what I’d envisaged when I graduated with a degree in Fine Art, but food and drink is definitely my specialist subject, and restaurants are where I feel most at home.  

On alcohol-free frustration:

Christine: The world of alcohol-free always irritated me. I work with alcohol a lot. But I don’t actually drink a lot of it. And I simply got fed up that I couldn’t find anything decent to drink. So I started lobbying the directors at Hakkasan to move in an alcohol free direction, and thankfully they agreed. That’s when I met James – and I suppose the rest is history. 

James: That Hakkasan project was huge. I shared Chrissie’s frustration when it came to alcohol-free – it just didn’t feel right that there wasn’t a suitable choice for people who didn’t always want to drink alcohol. So we spent nearly two years researching and developing alcohol-free drinks together to create the world’s finest list. It was truly pioneering work at the time.

On finding kindred palates:

James: Between us, Chrissie and I seemed to share an unorthodox and creative mindset, which we blended with solid research skills. So, we hit it off straight away, exploring countless different ingredients, products and processes. When we discovered gaps in the list, we simply created something new; not just products, but whole categories. I still can't believe I managed to sneak Drinking Vinegars through!

Christine: Over the years James and I have tried absolutely everything. We’ve worked with people all over the world to research traditional drinks from their local communities too. This resulted in some amazing discoveries and finally to the creation of some exceptional drinks - premium kombucha, cold brew tea and a very special non-alcoholic sake. 

James: There were some brilliant blind alleys too. I distinctly remember trying to source Alaskan Birch Water flavoured with local mushroom. The first batch was amazing, and then subsequent attempts utterly ruined. 

On charting new territory:

Christine: Disruption feels like natural territory for me – I’ve been doing it most of my career. But it’s amazing to think that many of these ‘new’ drinks are actually thousands of years old... it’s just taken the world a while to wake up to their amazing potential.

James: I think that links to one of the things I love about alcohol-free. You have some ancient, culturally-rooted recipes, and they could be on a list sat next to a drink that’s born from a brand new technique. I think we both love the fact that there are so many new things being created all the time – and they’re all so different.

Christine: I can imagine the curation for Zero.Zilch.Zip. might feel very different in a year or two – because things are changing so fast, and we’ll only ever stock the best there is. No one’s got time for average anymore – so we’re cutting through that on behalf of everyone else.

On appreciating the art:

James: This may come as a surprise but it’s REALLY hard to make great non-alcoholic drinks. Much harder than it is to create a drink that contains alcohol. It requires real artistry that should be appreciated.

Christine: I couldn’t agree more. And that’s probably the easiest answer when people ask why alcohol-free drinks can be on the pricier side. It’s more complex to make. It requires more beautifully blended ingredients. There’s just more craft and care required, and when people get it right – it can be absolutely amazing.

James: For some reason there’s this inherent value placed on alcohol. When actually, alcohol is often an unwanted or accidental by-product, and it’s more difficult to keep alcohol out of something. Fruit Juice. Sourdough Bread. They’ll often contain more alcohol content than the drinks you’ll find at Zero.Zilch.Zip.

On curating for Zero.Zilch.Zip:

James: Much like Chrissie, I don’t drink alcohol at home these days, but I suffer from a very curious palate, which can be a great joy or a great frustration. I constantly want to discover interesting things, so the days of curation for Zero.Zilch.Zip. were a real pleasure.

Christine: Everyone wants to drink something lovely that doesn’t have alcohol. There’s now so much choice in the category, so it’s important to have a collection like this one. With Zero.Zilch.Zip. we’ve cut through all the fog, so everything you buy is the best there is.

James: Couldn’t agree more. This is going to make it so much easier for consumers to make the right choices and discover the best experiences. Alcohol free can now be an equal or better comparison to alcoholic alternatives, and this collection is welcoming everyone to the table.

On their desert island drinks:

Christine: I’d have to go for the Vandestreek Playground IPA, the Drynks Unlimited Smashed Cider, and the Sea Arch Sea & T

James: I’ll go for the Insel Skippers Wet Hopped Pilsener, the Holos Sparkling Oolong, and the Nine Elms No.18 for sipping with a summer barbecue. You can’t go wrong with any of those choices.