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Low-alcohol drink creator has your health in mind

PHOTO ABOVE: Leah Caplanis offering samples of Social Enjoyments at a Chicago grocery store.  |  Courtesy photo

Chicagoan Leah Caplanis was visiting Florida when an aunt suggested she have the protruding lump on her throat examined.

She did, and the doctor gave the then-26-year-old some bad news: The lump was a goiter and she had thyroid cancer. Surgery to remove the goiter was recommended.

Most of us hear the word “cancer” and are immediately terrified. We want it out of our bodies as fast as possible.

Caplanis instead decided to talk to her dad, who follows a holistic lifestyle, and sister, who runs a natural food store in Michigan. Both recommended she take a step back and figure out what she could do besides surgery.

So she moved back in with her mom in Michigan, started working with a holistic team and launched into a routine that included acupuncture and chiropractic treatments. She learned about herbal medicines and became a vegan.

Before returning to Michigan she was working alone at home and always felt kind of depressed. But while making these changes, Caplanis says she learned a lot about living healthier, lost weight  and “instantly” started to feel better.

“Life started to be great again,” she says. “Life just totally lit up.”

By the time she returned to the doctor, she says the goiter had shrunk a good 40 percent. She continues to have it monitored.

With her health restored, Caplanis moved back to Chicago, decided shared office space rather than a solitary home office was right for her, and started dating again.

While she’d stayed away from alcohol after adopting her healthier lifestyle, once she was back dating she also decided to have a drink or two every now and then. The results weren’t good. She found she developed hangovers easily. She felt the impact of drinking very quickly and “didn’t like how it was disempowering,” she says.

Caplanis decided she couldn’t be the only health-conscious person who wanted the occasional alcoholic drink but didn’t want the after effects. And with that, she started on her quest to come up with a better alcohol option.

The result is the low-calorie (88 in a 10.5-ounce can), gluten-free Social Enjoyments. It’s a sparkling sake-based drink with 4 percent alcohol that’s all organic. (Wine is 12 percent.) No sulfites or tannins here. Caplanis says it’s the first alcoholic beverage with all the ingredients and nutritional data labeled on it.


The new Social Enjoyments variety, Toasted Coconut Almond, hits stores this week.

It’s in Marianos. select Target and Whole Foods stores. A number of bars — including The Trump, Park Club, Benchmark and Untitled — also carry it. Caplanis says it has been “extremely well-received.”

The first flavor, hibiscus cucumber, has been joined by the label’s second variety, toasted coconut almonds, this week. After making its mark regionally, Social Enjoyments will be launched in Florida and California in March.