Melanie Masarin is the Founder and CEO of Ghia, a alcohol-free apéritif. We talked to her about her upbringing, her relationship with alcohol and her love for gardening.
You were born and raised in Lyon, France and spent summers in the South of France with your mother and grandmother making homemade limoncello from freshly-picked lemons. How did those experiences help inspire you to create Ghia and for those who aren’t already familiar with the brand, can you share a bit about what you make?
A lot of my childhood memories with my mom and grandmother revolve around entertaining friends, cooking together, and having conversations that lasted until dawn, which was fundamental for the inspiration to start Ghia. It’s meant to connect over shared experiences and create a moment to remember.
What are nervines and how do they help enhance Le Spritz drinks?
Natural nervines are mood-improving herbs that help the mind and body feel calm and connected. We believe that when you use real ingredients, there are real benefits. While we didn’t want Ghia to directly alter mood, the use of our lemon balm (our natural nervine) can help alleviate stress and anxiety.
Ghia launched with a spirits-free Apéritif, Le Spritz, but it was always important to you that it wasn’t created just for the sober or sober-curious, but with the intention that it’s meant to be shared with everyone around the table in a celebratory fashion. Why was this distinction important to you?
It’s incredibly important to us to meet customers where they are. Ghia is built on inclusivity and if we only focused on catering to the sober and sober-curious market, we wouldn’t truly be honoring this notion. Our goal is to reclaim the word “alcohol” from drinking and give people an inclusive, spirit-free beverage that changes the way we think about drinking and socializing.
Some of the things you’re most passionate about include sustainable organic gardening, cooking elaborate meals and gathering friends for fabulous dinner parties - how does this continue to fuel what you create at Ghia and did it have an impact on your new holiday collection featuring your first food products? We’d love to hear more about the latest release!
Yes! Everything we do at Ghia is inspired by our love for clean ingredients and moments with loved ones. My childhood was a big inspiration for our holiday offerings. Growing up, my family and I would have lazy Sunday night dinners where one of my siblings or I would make crepes for the entire family - typically lathered in a generous amount of Nutella. We still do this tradition anytime we visit my parents back home. I also have vivid memories of my parents indulging in a bar of dark chocolate, candied oranges, or a tin jar of cookies after dinner and playing cards into the wee hours of the night around the holidays.
These shared memories helped us come up with Le Works, which is a version of a holiday package that will fuel conversation during the holiday season. We also wanted to be sustainably responsible with our offerings this year, and edible gifts are the most sustainable.
Since you’ve launched you’ve curated thoughtful recipes with leaders in the beverage industry to inspire different ways to incorporate Ghia. Could you share with us some of your favorite ways to enjoy?
My go-to cocktail is a Ghia Soda, which includes 2oz Ghia, 2oz sparkling water, a sprig of rosemary, and an orange twist. I’ve also been very into an Olive You, which is 2oz Ghia, a Castelvetrano olive, and a dusting of fresh black pepper (a slow dance in a glass with a savory hint of spice). It’s a perfectly festive drink to enjoy for the holidays.
You’re all about all things wellness and promote how that can be a bit of a journey and mean something different to each person. What are some of your favorite things that you’ve been enjoying lately that allow you to relax and recharge?
Since I have limited personal time, it can be hard balancing time for wellness that doesn’t compete with my hobbies. So I’ve looked for activities that do both, like cooking, gardening and surfing. They’ve all become a favorite part of my weekly routine and allow me to achieve this balance by keeping me healthy and happy.