Jules Aron’s The Low-Proof Happy Hour, may not be the typical stunning, but unused, coffee table book often found in homes across America, but this fresh, flavorful, and breezy recipe softcover guidebook may just be one of the top tomes of the cocktail oeuvre.
Her art is in the mixing! By toning down the booze in her concoctions and replacing them with delicious, fresh, and natural ingredients, Aron has taken the wellness space to a reimagined collection of artsy and classic cocktails, and everything in between. From page one, she sets you up for mixology success with a step-by-step guide on how to first, stock your pantry with the right ingredients so that you can create and balance the flavors for an effective array of low-proof cocktails.
My favorites include Garden Mojo, the quintessential mojito with a medley of jasmine tea and honey muddled with mint and basil, which will “send your senses into overdrive.” Then, there’s the Solmate, what Aron calls “a drink with benefits!” This delicious blend of juicy citrus consisting of pineapples, grapefruit and lemon, and spicy turmeric, is spiked with dry vermouth and polished with honey syrup, resulting in a golden anti-inflammatory elixir that tastes just like sunshine should. One not to be missed is Santa Rosa, which is on page 154.
Santa Rosa is divine. Matthew Biancaniello, known for his culinary-inspired libations, shares this drink he created with Verjus, a tart grape juice produced by pressing unripe grapes. The nonalcoholic drink mixes Santa Rosa plums, lime juice, agave syrup, huacatay, Candy cap mushroom, Verjus infusion, and marigold petals. The mushroom’s faint scent alone is sure to play with your senses, Aron writes.
In her book, she introduces her readers to a novel concept, a creative way of entertaining and enjoying flavors. She writes, “There’s a new buzz in cocktails and the proof is in the drink. Low-proof libations, also known as shims, suppressors, and sessions have been around for centuries. Countries like France, Italy, and France have enjoyed vermouth, sherry, and amaro cocktails –like the now ubiquitous spritz—for years. It seems the fever is finally spreading. Bartenders and patrons in the United States have been embracing low-alcohol libations with a new passion.”
For Aron, that passion started years ago. She is originally from Montreal and grew up around her family’s kitchen table. “For my family, food was everything,” she says. “My father owned and managed several restaurants, while my mom worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious international hotels. Together, they instilled in me a deep appreciation for whole foods and the dining experience. Between the frequent dinner parties they loved to host, to the quality of food they chose to serve, they taught me that the best food involves basic techniques, fresh ingredients, and a whole lot of love.”
Years later, she moved to New York City to study book publishing at New York University. After working in the industry for some years, she got tired of the corporate world. She turned back to bartending, which was the way she had put herself through school. The wellness space had always intrigued her, and so she added another master’s degree in holistic nutrition to her academic belt. Between taking classes and bartending, before she knew it, Aron had accumulated 28 years of hospitality experience as a bartender—an experience that would become very fruitful later on.
“I was always very interested in wellness and what they call alternative help—and so I decided to put the bartending aside and started taking on clients for consulting as a health coach,” says Aron, who did that for several years. Wearing many hats, and listening to people’s problems and issues soon took a toll on her and she quickly burned out.
“Working so closely with people, you take on their energy so it was very draining. I took a step back and re-accessed what would work best for me, and that’s when I got my idea for my first book.”
Her first book, Zen and Tonic, is a guide to healthier and nutritious foods, mostly superfoods and juices in cocktails. The 2017 release was published by The Countryman Press, which is a division of W.W. Norton & Company.
The book contained over 100 cocktail recipes, including some plant-based snack recipes, which she added at her editor’s request. The editor was fascinated with vegan cheese, and so she suggested to Aron, “that’s your next book.”
Vegan Cheese was followed by a general cooking book, which came out at the same time as her fourth book, Beauty Inside and Out. With recipes based on wellness, using the same country staples that she used in recipes, she created a do-it-yourself beauty book that contained products that women could create at home.
And now, with her fifth book, The Low-proof Happy Hour, Real Cocktails Without the Hangover, Aron has blended her passion for wellness and good spirits, creating a series of perfectly “well drinks.” The concept in this book is clear: cocktails with half the proof of alcohol without sacrificing flavor, using wholesome ingredients.
As Aron looks back at what she calls a “whirlwind journey,” it is interesting to hear how she got into this business, very unintentionally. “I went from working in the book trade publishing industry to bartending, to now writing books,” a career path that’s actually come full circle for her, and added a new role to the equation—that of influencer. Which also happened unintentionally.
Soon after Aron released her first book, she realized that the responsibility to promote it fell solely on her. And that’s when her real relationship with social media began. “I always joke about this because I am an introvert,” she chuckles. “I always say, If I knew then what I know now, there’s no way that I would have taken this path, posting every day, self-promoting to the degree that I do on social media. I would have never agreed to it, that was not my world.”
And yet, here she is, in that world, with over 25,000 followers on Instagram.
“It’s an interesting world,” she adds. “I don’t stop to think about it too much because I think that would be very overwhelming for me. You just know that you can’t stop, you have to keep it going.”
Because of her books, she has a pretty vast audience, both national and international. Not to mention the huge following she has in South Florida, most especially in West Palm Beach, where she lives.
“I love it here now. I can’t imagine living anywhere else but in West Palm Beach. I’ve only been here a short time, and I’ve seen this city develop amazingly. Every opening, every startup is so exciting for me. I love seeing how it is so culturally diverse and artistic. It’s very energizing,” says Aron. And you will feel the same way about her recipes. Cheers!
Jules Aron is a rising author in the fields of natural health, beauty, and nutrition. She divides her time between her rustic bungalow in upstate New York and her apartment in West Palm Beach. Follow her @JulesAron.