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Taste – Spring 2024



By Griffin Nelson | Photos by Andrew Thomas Lee

For thousands of years, alcohol was a necessary part of almost every civilization. The fermentation process would kill potential bacteria, making it often the safer drink before water purification methods were invented. Each region created a beverage of choice based on what was available — honey, grapes, malt, etc. — and the resulting beverage would come to be part of their cultural identity. 

Yet, as the world has developed and the necessity has subsided, enjoyment for these beverages has remained. Most people will admit that they enjoy a glass of wine with lasagna, cocktails with friends or a cold beer after working in the yard. 

But, what’s next for a world who loves the taste of mixed drinks without the need of alcohol? Native Augustan Sean Goldsmith has a plan to make the growing market of non-alcoholic alcohol more accessible. 

What originally started as a personal break from drinking turned into a burgeoning business. “I flew back from a long weekend in Miami and woke up and realized, ‘Hey I’m tired.’ So, I didn’t drink that day and it changed my life.”

After chatting with friend and future co-founder Trevor Wolfe, the pair commiserated over the fact that despite the positive benefits of giving up alcohol, there just weren’t a lot of great options. So, they decided to broaden their search, chronicling their finds on their blog The Zero Proof. “We discovered this whole world of premium adult non-alcoholic beverages,” says Goldsmith. As the blog expanded and built an audience, companies would send the team samples to try, exposing them to the reaches of what the industry could offer. 

It wasn’t long before The Zero Proof became the top resource for non-alcoholic drinks, working with companies around the world to help them meet the growing demand in the United States. Goldsmith notes, “What we’re seeing as we work with companies to create programs, is it unlocking a huge demand that they didn’t even know was there because people weren’t asking … But people go out, and it’s an occasion. They want something sophisticated and interesting. And when you go to cheers, you don’t feel like the odd man out.”

At, categories for ready-to-drink cocktails can be found alongside whiskey and bourbon-inspired beverages, red, white and sparkling wines, and even those created by women founders — all without a drop of alcohol. 



Photos by Evermore Photo Co.

If you’ve ever been to England you have learned to appreciate the specialty shop that is simultaneously a lunch counter and coffee bar. If you haven’t ever been to England, just stop by Birdies — it is much cheaper than a plane ticket!

 Owner Kirsten Hindes has wanted to create her own spot for decades. Her first job in high school was at The Gourmet Shop in Columbia, S.C., little knowing that someday she would be able to use her years of accumulated knowledge to open her own place. A graduate of the University of Georgia, she built her career from the bottom up with culinary school in Vermont, a stint at a coffee shop in London, and years working in French kitchens before focusing her skills on the world of cheese

 “I came back to cheese because I loved it so much,” says Hindes. Though most people would claim to be cheese lovers, Hindes is recognized within the cheese world as one of the experts. As former regional director of specialty foods for Whole Foods, her focus was on beer, coffee, wine and of course, cheese. Her expertise has taken her all over the United States and around the world, even taking her to San Sebastián, Spain, as a judge for the World Cheese Awards. 

 In addition to her years focusing on cheese, Hindes is grateful for the variety of jobs that she has had, making her ideally suited to open Birdies. “[The experience] is so helpful when I’m teaching my staff and allows for them in turn to help customers get exactly what they want.”

 Between the helpful staff and stunningly renovated space that recalls the same old-world aesthetic of specialty shops in the United Kingdom, Birdies has quickly become a favorite spot for locals. Sourcing local produce, premium teas and the best variety of charcuterie and cheeses, the standards are kept high across the board. “I wanted to be more unique than big box stores,” says Hindes.

 All of the sandwiches, whether hot or cold, are made with the same products that can be purchased by the pound, resulting in a great lunch that pairs great with a bowl of Birdies’ soup. Mornings mean a perfectly timed pour-over or latte, and afternoons will find students studying away over a pot of warm tea.

Choose delectable meats and cheeses for your next charcuterie board, accompanied by delicious olives, jams and crackers for a memorable night of entertaining. Whatever you’re shopping for, a walk through the door of Birdies is the fastest way to get across the pond from right here in Athens.



Photos courtesy of Slater’s Steakhouse

The classic steakhouse will never go out of style: thick, marbled cuts of locally sourced beef and elevated side dishes, all paired with the perfect glass of wine. Despite having recently celebrated their one-year anniversary, Slater’s Steakhouse, the newest addition to Jerry and Krista Slater’s restaurant family, retains all the authenticity of a classic, American, 1950s establishment.

“We love old spaces so when we took it over we just took away everything that had built up and left what was amazing: like the pressed tin ceilings and brick walls,” says the couple. Slater’s Steakhouse, aptly pulling its identity from their last name, is a return to their roots with H. Harper Station, their former Atlanta restaurant.

After moving to the Athens area to be closer to family they’ve made their mark by building ties with the community through their other endeavors, The Expat and The Lark Winespace. “We’re taking our ethos and applying it to the classic steakhouse,” says the Slaters.

 Renowned Brasstown Beef dominates the menu with Ribeye and Filet Mignon alongside other impeccable entrees like House-made, Seasonal Pasta and Trout Amandine. Quality cuts are amplified by classic Parker House Rolls, French Onion Soup, the Wedge Salad, Creamed Spinach and Garlic Whipped Potatoes. “We’re having some fun with it,” says Krista. “We have the usual suspects, but we try to do it in our own way.”

 Jerry’s background as a mixologist and Krista’s status as a sommelier has helped them create a drink menu that pairs wonderfully with their dishes. Imagine Oysters Rockefeller with an ice-cold Martini or a New York Strip with a glass of Barolo. Alongside the pair, bar manager Johnathan Griffey maintains a high standard with time-honored cocktails and a primarily North and South American wine list.

 A definitive steakhouse, Slater’s has made a name for itself in the past year by taking an American staple restaurant model and elevating each aspect in an accessible way. Steaks and drinks and everything that goes with it, but with the deliciousness from Jerry and Krista Slater that Athens has come to count on.