THE NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE BOOM

Some drink trends come and go, but as consumers make an active choice to reduce alcohol consumption, mocktails are having a major moment. What’s more? Another dip in 2018 alcohol sales has experts predicting that the demand for “no-proof” drinks is here to stay. Alcohol companies, breweries and beverage manufacturers across all segments are paying attention and quickly evolving their portfolios in response.

Here are some trends:

Mocktails Get a Makeover

Move over, sugar-bombed Shirley Temples; how about a “tea-tini?” or cold brew tonic? Today’s “teetotalers,” people who never drink alcohol, want more fun, flavor and quality ingredients without the compromise, and that’s exactly what they’re getting. From sweet potato and tomatillo to fermented apricots and pickled beets, unconventional ingredients are replacing common garnishes, such as cherries and olives. Mixers are evolving, too, as house-made sodas, exotic syrups, fresh juices and herbs dominate over pre-made blends.

As the demand for more interesting non-alcoholic beverages increases, chefs and bartenders are pulling out the stops to offer the same creativity and complexity commonly found in traditional cocktails—and it’s paying off. While consumers flock to new bars and restaurants offering thoughtfully crafted drinks sans alcohol, operators are enjoying higher check averages and a stronger bottom line thanks to an influx of new and repeat customers. Popular fast-casual and chain restaurants are getting on board, too, from Sonic’s new line of Mocktail Slushes to Applebee’s introduction of island-inspired mocktails in over two dozen Florida locations.

Personalization Takes Priority

As part of their ongoing wellness movement and longing for more awareness and control, Gen Z and millennials are driving this new booze-free beverage trend—which means it’s more important than ever to cater to what fuels them. Through flavor-forward recipes and on-trend ingredients, chefs and bartenders are using mocktails as another way to offer the healthful beverages younger customers desire. It’s also nothing short of an experience as restaurants continue to push the envelope with “Instaworthy” garnishes and craveable flavor profiles that photograph just as great as they go down.

As the thirst for better non-alcoholic options intensifies, menus aren’t the only things getting a refresh. From New York to Texas, ‘no alcohol bars’ are popping up across the country and piquing the interests of “teetotalers,” as well as those just wanting a short break from booze. Brooklyn’s Getaway Bar, for example, is gaining notoriety for their personal touch on freshly made mocktails created with interesting ingredients like elderflower syrup and rhubarb shrub.

Booze-Free Goes Beyond the Bar

Bartenders aren’t the only ones having fun: Ready-to-drink mocktails have officially made their way to shelves and are gaining significant momentum. With the continual releases of botanically-infused waters, fermented teas and finely crafted sodas, along with specialty offerings like Seedlip (the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic drink), consumers can now find the blends they need to indulge at home. Major beverage manufacturers and breweries are claiming their share of the market, too, with their rollouts of Ocean Spray’s sangria and Heineken’s “0.0” beer.

With a reported 61% of customers asking for better choices when it comes to non-alcoholic drinks, the demand for flavor, quality and versatility have the entire industry thinking differently about booze-free. If you haven’t yet, now’s a great time to start, and S&D can help with the solutions you need to expand your beverage program in new and exciting ways.