The Elevated Happy Hour

By Erin Hunt Moore

With its access to high quality, fresh ingredients, savvy consumer palates, a seemingly endless pool of creative minds and entrepreneurs, and the proximity of an active investment community with a thirst for new trends and trendsetters, the Bay Area has emerged as a mecca in national food and beverage innovation. The current explosion of beverage trends spawned by the greater Bay Area attests to it as a hub of world class wine, craft spirits, beer, cider and other craft drink producers.  

The Bay Area also boasts a consumer base that skews comparatively more active and motivated by healthier lifestyle choices than many areas of the country. Even prior to pandemic realities changing how we socialize and influencing our lifestyle choices, the arrival and ensuing popularity of low- or non-alcoholic beverage brands marked a shift in drinking behavior. Many people just don’t want to drink as much, if any, alcohol for a variety of reasons ranging from health concerns and empty calories to taste preference to simply not wanting to deal with hangover headaches and sluggishness.

The eye-catching array of WUNDER flavors and vibrant packaging (photo: Chris Greenwell Photography)

Enter cannabis-infused beverages and the Bay Area’s standout brand, WUNDER. According to BDS Analytics and New Frontier Data, beverages are the fastest growing segment of the cannabis industry. Although legalized in California in 2019, cannabis is still shadowed by stigma, something which the overall industry is working to shift, especially those brands looking to appeal to a more mainstream, sophisticated consumer base in the finer “foodie” and beverage camp.  

So, how does this work? In the case of WUNDER, which launched in summer of 2020, the answer comes from creating an accessible, mindful brand experience. The brainchild of three Bay Area digital consumer, cannabis, and e-commerce industry veterans, Alexi Chialtas, Christian Peterson and Phil McGarr (Zynga, Warner Brothers, NorCal Cannabis, Man Crates), WUNDER was really the answer to what they were looking for in their own lives. As busy professionals, with at least one father in the bunch, they were looking to create an alternative to alcohol that they could enjoy and unwind with.

WUNDER Founders Phil McGarr, Alexi Chialtas, Christian Peterson (Photo Pete Nguyen)

“Our beverages are formulated for people to feel engaged and inspire, not sluggish or foggy,” states WUNDER CEO and Co-Founder Alexi Chialtas. “Truly low-dose, all-natural beverages with a quick onset speak to audiences looking for choices that are holistically better for them.”  

Co-Founder Phil McGarr purposefully left behind alcohol in 2020, though he does enjoy WUNDER. “Not drinking actually made the year far easier for me than I anticipated,” he said. “Life is overwhelming in general, but last year was truly unprecedented. I chose to take time to pursue healing and meditation work, really being mindful about my life. Enjoying low-dose cannabis through WUNDER was a perfect complement to everything else. It made me a great believer in the category.”  

WUNDER Lemon Ginger Lift (photo: Chase Sater)

The eye-catching branding, well-crafted sparkling flavor combinations, low dosing, and blend precision certainly make WUNDER an appealing experience. Packaged in vibrant, well-designed, pastel-toned, 8-ounce cans ($7) with enticing, all-natural, low-calorie flavor combinations (ranging from just 25-35 calories per can) like Blood Orange Bliss, Lemon Ginger Lift, Watermelon Wave, and Grapefruit Hibiscus, these would be perfectly placed poolside and at an elegant brunch. And they are absolutely delicious, well-balanced, and refreshing.  

WUNDER Blood Orange Bliss (photo photo: Chris Greenwell Photography)

It’s the well-thought out and extensively researched blend of cannabinoids that really sets this beverage line apart. Each can of WUNDER is precisely dosed with a carefully considered blend of three cannabinoids: 2 milligrams of THC, 2 milligrams of Delta-8, and 4 milligrams of CBD. The addition of Delta-8 is important. It’s a cannabinoid known for its low psychoactive effects, as well as for promoting body relaxation and presence of mind, and serves as an excellent equalizer in combination with THC and CBD. This is exactly the effect that WUNDER founders were looking for: a beverage that would offer a more mindful alternative to alcohol, allowing consumers to feel a present, calm, relaxed sense of well-being.  

WUNDER Grapefruit Hibiscus on ice (photo: Chris Greenwell Photography)

How should you drink WUNDER? Serve it chilled, straight from the can or over ice. All three flavors have been carefully crafted with real fruit juice and all-natural ingredients that combine with the cannabinoids to create easy, refreshing, effervescent beverages. You can also experiment on your own. Add a pretty garnish, more juice, or sparkling water for more spritz and to dilute a bit if you prefer. You can find recipe inspirations, information on where to purchase, and details about WUNDER on their website at https://findwunder.com/find and on Instagram at @findwunder. Cheers to a Wunderful year ahead!  

Relaxing with Wunder (photo: Chris Greenwell Photography)