Driven by a growing interest in our health and wellbeing, alcohol consumption has taken a nose dive in recent years and made way for a whole new category of sophisticated, non alcoholic drinks. This new genre of “zero proof” beverages are so much more than the concentrated fruit juices and syrups of old. They are complex, premium and riot on the taste buds.
Gone are the days when non drinkers were seen as the unwelcome guest at the party. Data from the Office of National Statistics has revealed that adults who drink alcohol is the lowest on record with almost half the population now shunning a regular drink. Alcohol consumption in the UK fell by 26% between 2002-2012 and has continued to plummet since whilst in France consumption dropped by 14% and in Germany by 9%. (OECD – Organisation for Economic Development
Dan Gasper, COO at Distil Ventures, spirits giant Diagio’s Start-up accelerator fund, is excited by the emergence of the non-alcoholic category and cited that the exciting trends in grown-up non-alcoholic drinks marked the “biggest opportunity in the drinks industry right now”.
No longer content with sugar laden fruit juices, cordials and sparkling water, tee total customers are driving bars and restaurants to pay as much attention to their non-alcoholic offering as they do their alcoholic one.
Recognising this trend, Botanic Lab has championed partnerships with premium drinking venues like The Arts Club, Devonshire Club and Balaans, where customers can enjoy complex Botanic Lab drinks in a traditional bar environment
CEO Rebekah Hall says “Until recently, the non-drinker was being completely overlooked, with no interesting and premium drink experiences available for those of us with a discerning palate. All that is now changing and it's at last as exciting (if not more) to be abstaining."
The success of Seedlip, the worlds first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, has proven the potential of this new category. In some of London’s top cocktail bars, sales of Seedlip sit alongside gin sales by other premium brands as non-drinking customers seek out the same sense of occasion, ceremony and taste experience as their alcohol drinking counterparts.
Inspired by the growing interest in the non-alcoholic space, you can now find no- or low-alcohol offerings featuring much more prominently on the drinks menus of premium bars restaurants across the globe.
Notable trends emerging include the use of botanicals, bitters, tea and kombucha with bartenders presenting these non-alcoholic offerings with all the same ceremony as a beautiful cocktail. Some of the London champions of the non-alcoholic movement are:
Raw Duck in Hackney & who offer a full range of home made fermented drinks and seasonal drinking vinegars alongside their carefully curated cocktail and biodynamic wine selection. "People like ceremony. There is a massive demand for something that works between a can of soft drink and an alcoholic drink. We started making some basic drinking vinegars about three years ago and they grew tenfold and people started asking for more of these."
The award-winning Dandelyan Bar at the Mondrian Hotel gives each non-alcoholic drink the same prominence as the alcoholic offerings.
Ian Griffiths of Dandelyan says "The entire bar and restaurant world is changing at such a pace that we're almost struggling to keep up with. We dedicate a few pages of our menu to non-alcoholic drinks. Let's stop serving people glasses of fluffy pineapple juice. If people are coming for the Dandelyan experience then they get that no matter what they choose to drink"
Dishoom who have a dedicated section for their non-alcoholic 'Copy Tipples'. Bar development manager Carl Brown says “It tastes like a cocktail, looks like a cocktail, but it's also got this edge to it that stops people drinking it at a lightning pace."
There is no denying we are more conscious of our health and wellbeing than ever before. The continual growth of the wellness industry, success of the 'Dry January' campaign (over 5 million people took part in 2017) and the boom of sober morning dance parties such as Daybreaker and Morning Gloryville are indicators that we are continually seeking new experiences that help us strike a balance between our health, work and play.
With Generation Z (16-25 year olds) reporting they are more concerned with their personal and career development than partying like rock stars the new non-alcoholic space is set to bloom. Whatever your reason for abstaining from alcohol, whether temporary or permanent, we can all rejoice. Better drinks and more sophisticated choices is the new way. Watch this space!