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Go 'Nolo' This Fall

Published: November 2020

No Alcohol, No Problem: Booze-Free Beverages on the Rise 

Curious about the sober curious movement? What’s the lowdown on NOLO? And is 2020 really the “year of the mocktail”?  

No- and low-alcohol (“NOLO”) beverages are one of the fastest-growing beverage trends in the market today, with sober nights, alcohol-free pop-upand entire bars dedicated to serving no-ABV beer, wine and cocktails on the rise around the globe.  

But these aren’t your mom’s syrupy Shirley Temples or your dad’s dour O’Doul’s. Today’s mocktails focus on fresh, innovative ingredients like bitters, fruit, teas and vegetables, as well as botanical-heavy spirit substitutes.  

New non-alcoholic products are hitting the market every month, ranging from low- to high-end ready-to-drink cocktails as well as beer, wine and specially distilled “spirits.” And while beer led the way in the no-ABV space, spirits are catching up, with premium products that tout quality and exclusivity.  

So, what’s spurred this growing interest in non-alcoholic drinks? Like many lifestyle trends these days, it all comes down to health and wellness.  

Whether they’re trying to count calories, curb hangovers or prevent the more long-term side effects of drinking, about 1 in 4 Americans say they are looking to cut back on alcohol – and that doesn’t include those who are fully sober. And while millennials are leading the way in the sober curious movement, Gen X and Gen Z aren’t far behind.  

Still, today’s teetotalers aren’t willing to sacrifice taste for health, and so this more sophisticated brand of mocktail allows drinkers to indulge in something that feels extravagant without any ill effects.  

Thinking of going NOLO at your bar or restaurant? Now may be the perfect time. If you’ve been affected by ordinances that shut down bars early in your community, offering non-alcoholic options could help bring in more guests in the lunchtime and afternoon hours. Other guests may be watching their wallets in an uncertain economy and find value in nonalcoholic options.  

If you’re ready to take the plunge into the world of NOLO beverages, there are a few things you should consider: 

Focus on Flavor 

Your guests might not be drinking “hard” liquors, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want amazing flavors in their NOLO cocktail. They’re looking for the look and taste of the real thing, a grown-up beverage they can carry confidently around the bar or venue. 

Non-alcoholic cocktails give seasoned bartenders and mixologists the opportunity to experiment with ingredients, building complex mixtures and layered flavor profiles of sweet, sour and bitter. Some are even replicating the mouthfeel of alcohol with carbonation, spices and vinegars. 

One rule of thumb to follow: Like its alcoholic counterparts, a well-balanced NOLO cocktail is best enjoyed sipped, not gulped (like soda), so consider ingredients wisely. Consumers want to know the bartender was thoughtful creating his or her recipe. 

Remember the Presentation 

While flavor should always come first, the proper vessel and garnish can finish off mocktail and give it a high-end, celebratory feel. A luxe presentation elevates your drink and reinforces its value – and unlike alcoholic beverages, bartenders aren’t limited to style-specific glassware. 

Let your creativity run wild with shape, texture and proportion. Create a NOLO mimosa with the Vina trumpet flute. Add high-end flair with the Master’s Reserve® Prism coupe or Modernist Crosshatch highball. With the coupe’s thin stem and the tumbler’s tall, narrow shape, these styles also reinforce a sense of health and wellness. Herbal and botanical garnishes echo the flavors in the glass and add visual interest and aromatics to the presentation.  

Put NOLO Front and Center 

Non-drinkers have always been viewed as somewhat “second-class citizens” in alcohol-forward spaces, with a handful of sugary-sweet soda- and juice-based virgin “mocktails” relegated to the back page of menus. 

The new movement encourages bartenders to give non-drinkers the same experience as those who do imbibe – and that means including at least a few non-alcoholic options on your cocktail list, each with its own imaginative name.  

Because some NOLO beverages (think old-school non-alcoholic beers) have earned a bad reputation over the years, educating guests on the wide range of products now available is also key. Keep zero-proof “spirits” displayed behind the bar alongside liquors and be ready to offer samples to curious patrons. 

Finally, no- and low-alcoholic beverages are inclusive by their nature, because whatever their drinking style – nightly glass of wine, sober curious, or fully alcohol-free, most people have a reason to abstain at least once in a while. And that means the non-alcoholic trend isn’t going anywhere soon.  

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