About six months ago, Brooklynite Gabriel Dunn was gifted a bottle of The Pathfinder, an elixir concealed behind dark glass, wrapped in an old-timey sepia tone label. He was immediately hooked.
“I was basically going through a bottle every week, or every other week. The consistency is really good. It’s a great winter beverage,” Dunn, who works in academia and runs a small record label, told The Post.
But The Pathfinder, which the 42-year-old said he typically drinks neat, doesn’t get you tipsy. The zero-proof drink is fermented and distilled from hemp, and has characteristics similar to an amaro. According to enthusiasts, it’s a viable stand-in for the real stuff.
“For me, it was a great whiskey substitute,” said Dunn, who gave up booze last year.
Now Dunn and others are having trouble finding a $39 bottle of their favorite drink on shelves. Because even though there’s no hooch in it, it’s creating a major collective buzz.
On the heels of strong holiday sales, Dry January and an unfortunate supply chain issue with bottles, the brand’s waitlist is now 800 people deep, according to its global ambassador, Kraig Rovensky.
Spirited Away in Nolita, a shop that sells nonalcoholic beverages, has instituted a one bottle per customer rule while other specialty stores like Boisson are out of stock in some locations.
The Pathfinder has become the Pappy Van Winkle of the nonalcoholic drink world.
“It’s beginning to get a cult following,” said Juan Beltran, who helps run Minus Moonshine, a booze-free beverage shop in Williamsburg. “It has gained a lot of popularity in the last few months. Three weeks ago, we got six cases in, and they are sold out. It goes quickly. It went from being one of our top sellers to our number one selling spirit,” added Beltran, who drinks his over a large ice cube, or with some bitters and an orange twist. He also uses it in booze free Negronis and Boulevardiers in place of sweet vermouth.
But the creators of The Pathfinder, a group of liquor industry veterans, weren’t aiming to be elusive or exclusive.
“For us, we wanted to make something that would tantalize the senses and if you were drinking it, you wouldn’t feel like you were at the kid’s table,” Rovensky told The Post.
Initially launching the drink in June 2021 in Seattle, the makers started selling it nationwide in January 2022 and saw explosive growth month over month. But this past December, as holidays approached and word of mouth spread, their figures doubled from November — and The Pathfinder’s popularity has only grown.
“It’s in high demand. It’s unique and unlike anything else I sell. It’s a distinct flavor,” said Douglas Watters, who owns Spirited Away, where there’s a one-bottle-per-customer rule for the popular beverage.
He added, “We got a new shipment, and I want to make sure this lasts since I know they are facing some production issues.”
In addition to retail outlets, The Pathfinder can also be found behind the bar at hotspots like Death & Co, Mace, Sunken Harbor Club and Eleven Madison Park.
“We have won over a lot of skeptics,” said Rovensky.
He said the bottle situation is being resolved and the brand hopes to have a production run done by early March.
“I’ve been bartending for years, and I don’t like to tell people no,” he quipped.