Perfect Storm

Meet a new, naturally flavored, adaptogen-enhanced, sustainable sparkling water.
Ginseng and passion flower are among the beneficial adaptogens found in Free Rain water.

By Jim Servin

When conceiving of Free Rain, a superpowered new flavored water, Colin McCabe wasn’t thinking flat and still, more bold and bubbly. “There’s a part of me that equates sparkling water with a more elevated experience. It just seems more exciting,” he says. “I first thought of Free Rain while I was training for an Ironman triathlon, and I decided to give up alcohol. I was undertaking all these physical activities, while also having a full business life and a family life—alcohol was not fitting into that equation. In the absence of alcohol, I was left with sparkling water and club soda, and I wanted more.”

The 45-year-old father of two (a 12-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter) recognized a business opportunity, much as he had in 2001 as a graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, when he and best friend Tony Shure founded and launched the Chopt salad chain. While continuing as co-president of Chopt and overseeing more than 60 locations, McCabe flexed his entrepreneurial muscles, tuned up his taste buds and created Free Rain, a name, he says, that references the “vast amount of movement, potential and activity afforded by nature.” McCabe, Manhattan-born and raised, with a home in East Hampton, knows this exalted state well, as a cyclist, runner, boogie boarder and dedicated kitesurfer in Amagansett’s Napeague Bay. (“I’m excited about kitesurfing this month,” McCabe says. “The wind is always a lot better in October.”)

Each of Free Rain’s three 12-ounce flavors, bolstered with adaptogens and anti-stress herbs, targets specific mind-body needs throughout day and night. Free Rain’s “energy” drink, in delicious, not-too-sweet cherry, has 330 mg of Siberian ginseng; “focus,” a blood orange beverage, contains 140 mg of ashwagandha (also known as Indian ginseng); “calm” pairs 225 mg of passion flower with blackberry. “More people understand the power of plant-based ingredients,” McCabe says. “I only see this continuing in the years to come.”

But to succeed in the crowded beverage field, McCabe notes, wellness benefits have to be built into a product which above all, tastes good. “We tried to make the flavors accessible, but also interesting enough that you will take a sip and continue to drink it,” he says. McCabe also oversaw the product’s stylish eco-friendly packaging, choosing a tin can with an easily removable, perforated label “to make the can totally recyclable.” Sweetening its sustainability, Free Rain has teamed up with 1% For the Planet, a collective of businesses and individuals who donate at least 1 percent of their annual sales to help support environmental nonprofits.