Non-alcoholic drinks can be an important component in the reduction in alcohol related crime, disorder and vulnerability. Young people in particular can feel uncomfortable ordering an obvious soft drink in front of their friends but given a credible low or no-alcohol option, they are more likely to order this to slow down their drinking pace. This can reduce the risk of intoxication, together drunken aggression and other negative behaviours associated with drunkenness. If you are a venue owner, low alcohol alternatives can offer excellent profit margins, attract different clientele to your venue and reduce any issues you may have to deal with through people being intoxicated. You can also get some excellent free exposure on websites such as Club Soda, where people looking for a quality alcohol free or low alcohol offer can discover recommended premises. Here our director Sylvia Oates looks at the options for low and no alcohol.
Non-alcoholic drinks are important for other groups besides those out drinking. For example, at Christmas time it can be difficult or more expensive to get a taxi home at the end of the night, so there are more designated drivers out who deserve to be thought about. There are plenty of people who don’t drink at all on their nights out (depending on what you read, up to 25% of Generation Z don’t drink any alcohol). Then there are people who are pregnant or on medication…the list goes on.
The Drinkaware Monitor 2018 reports that “25% of UK drinkers say that sometimes they think they should cut down their drinking”, and in 2018 The Guardian ran an article considering if drinking was becoming as socially unacceptable as smoking. In May 2019, the Morning Advertiser reported on the increasing popularity of the no alcohol category. Furthermore, our research from towns and cities across the country shows that there is an increasing demand for options without alcohol in the evening and night time economy. This includes more activities that don’t involve alcohol; but also a better range of non-alcoholic drinks options too.
As the festive season approaches, we thought we’d throw some ideas out there for options to “reduce the alcohol content” in your premises this Christmas.
Good old H2O
All operators are aware that they must now provide potable water when requested, but we are delighted when we see premises making this really easy – and delicious for customers. Many pubs and bars now set up a water station with glasses and a large, attractive water dispenser, or a number of these, sometimes with different fruits, herbs and botanicals in. Not only does this reduce queuing times at the bar for those just wanting to rehydrate, but it can serve as a visual reminder for those that really should think about slowing down on the drinking to stock up on a glass of water.
Low alcohol beers and ciders
Alcohol free beer is the fastest growing drinks trend, with the Morning Advertiser reporting that alcohol-free volume sales were up 28% in 2019 compared with the previous year. AB InBev intend to grow its alcohol free beer sales from 8% to 20% of total sales by 2025. We have heard from many of our contacts within the drinks industry that not many pubs and bars have taken full advantage of the trend to offer a good selection of low and no alcohol drinks, and we feel this is a missed opportunity. We imagine it may be because of an archaic association with low alcohol meaning low quality and taste. There are some amazing options out there. For example: trust Brewdog to deliver one of the best alcohol free beers available on the market today. Punk AF (0.5% ABV). We were already fans of their other alcohol free alternative, Nanny State (0.5% ABV), which is bitter, dark and hoppy, but if you like fresher tropical tastes with grassy and pine notes but still with plenty of hoppiness, then Punk AF is the one to try.
Get in touch with your suppliers and see what other options might be available – ask for a sample if you’d like to check the quality and taste. We think you will be impressed with the quality of non-alcoholic drinks available. Margins on these drinks can be really healthy, and if they bring the benefits listed above, then it’s a win-win for customers and businesses alike!
The most famous of these is Seedlip, which has paved the way for the sector. We are pleased to report that many more brands and concepts are following in its footsteps. Our favourite is Ceder’s Wild Non-Alcoholic Spirit (0%). This is a very credible gin alternative, which is a fusion of ingredients from South African and Sweden, inspired by the home countries of the husband and wife business partners who produce it. We are certain that the sophisticated South African botanicals and clean Swedish water will have you fooled into thinking you’re sipping something stronger.
Just this month Spencer Matthews of Made in Chelsea fame has launched his new brand Clean Liquor, a new brand of distilled ‘spirits’ bottled at 1.2% ABV. His first 1,000 bottles sold out within 24 hours.
There are some delicious recipes for non-alcoholic cocktails that use low cost ingredients and are quick and easy for your staff to rustle up. Why not add a few to your cocktail menu this Christmas? Our favourites include Spiced Pina Colada Mocktail, Blood Orange Mojito and Raspberry Mule.
Companies such as the Three Spirits Drinks offer not only some fantastic no alcohol spirits but also some decadent, flavoured non-alcoholic cocktail recipes – the Social Spritz is divine. Or, check out this brilliant article with some non-alcoholic cocktail recipes from some of the top bartenders in the USA. Cloudy Tokyo, anyone?
There are so many more options out there for tasty and imaginative soft drinks, with a number of fantastic small craft companies entering the market, such as the Coca-Cola backed Barnone. The company’s range of bar-inspired drinks includes non-alcoholic sangria, bellini spritz, cider and spiced ginger mule made with all natural flavours and no artificial sweeteners, and is currently being trialled in the US. One to keep an eye on!
Don’t forget that there are some excellent national designated driver initiatives. The most famous of this, now in its 12th year, is the Coca Cola designated driver campaign where those showing their keys at the bar can get buy one, get one free twice on various soft drinks. If Coca Cola is one of your suppliers, you can ask your rep about the support they can offer you with this.
We truly believe that making it easy for your customers to access interesting, delicious low and no-alcohol drinks options could increase your profits, broaden your appeal to a wider audience bringing new customers, and reduce vulnerability and disorder – making for a happier Christmas for everyone.
If you have any other suggestions we can add to this article, please do contact Sylvia or Jo on email@example.com.
Merry Christmas Planning!