It’s time to think beyond the Shirley Temple and O’Doul’s when putting together non-alcoholic options for your bar program. The idea of going “dry,” or abstaining from alcohol, is becoming more commonplace as consumers look for refreshing, creative, and healthful temperance drinks that rival their alcoholic counterparts. Virgin beer, house-made soda, or fresh-pressed juice isn’t enough anymore.
The annual Swizzle competition held during the Catersource Conference & Tradeshow embraced this growing trend by challenging four competitors to mix up a round of temperance cocktails for discerning judges from Oregon Fruit (Becky Westby), The Cocktail Chemist (Jeremy Miner), and The Brownstone (Albert Manzo).
From left: Judge Albert Manzo, Swizzle winner Dylan Westfall, Judge Becky Westby (Oregon Fruit), Emcee Jeffrey Selden, and Judge Jeremy Miner (The Cocktail Chemist.) Photo courtesy WASIO Photography.
Let’s first explore why non-alcoholic beverages are in such demand.
Don’t call them mocktails
Non-alcoholic cocktails aren’t just for those in recovery, or abstaining for various reasons such as pregnancy, religion, or medication interactions, as one might presume. Whatever the reason, refraining from alcohol is more socially acceptable among consumers, which is why it’s important to ensure your bar menu offers enough options to make sober customers feel included, not ostracized.
Millennials have been instrumental in leading the charge by giving up alcohol as part of a way to stay healthy, with such movements as Dry January or No Fun February. You can also find this fad abundant on social media through the use of hashtags such as #sobercurious
Four very different temperance cocktails were sampled during the Swizzle competition. Photo courtesy WASIO Photography.
When adding alcohol-free drinks to your menu, the first order is to drop ‘mocktail’ from your vocabulary—a term that can often summon feelings of being patronized or infantilized. Instead, descriptors such as temperance, non-alcoholic, or alcohol free resonate more solidly.
Keep them interesting
As this trend continues to grow, so must the available options. It’s important to steer clear of traditional non-alcoholic drinks whenever possible and instead develop more unique and flavorful options. Try to avoid the safe, all-sweet route with your beverages, instead experiment with unexpected flavors, such as vinegars or shrubs, that will surprise and delight your guests.
Shannon Boudreau from the Lazy Gourmet developed a beet-inspired cocktail to impress the judging team. Photo courtesy Amber Kispert-Smith
The last thing to remember when considering whether or not to offer non-alcoholic cocktails is that there is a financial benefit. With non-alcoholic cocktails you are able to use many of ingredients that you already have in house, and maybe even some that may go unused or become recycled. Additionally, temperance drinks can be priced similarly to traditional cocktails, without the added expense of purchasing spirits.
So, how are you going to shake up your non-alcoholic offerings?
By Dylan Westfall
3 oz pineapple tepache
3 dashes orange blossom water
3 dashes infused clove bitters
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz seltzer
Fresh Origins Micro Mint-Licorice
Stir on the rocks
Drop the Beet
By Shannon Boudreau
1.5 oz Seedlip Spice
1.5 oz fresh beet juice
.5 oz ginger syrup
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz apple cider vinegar
Beet leather, charred rosemary sprig
- Combine all ingredients into shaker with ice, shake for 30 seconds
- Sstrain into coupe glass and garnish with beet leather and charred rosemary.
The Swizzle Drizzle
by Sean O’Neil
.75 oz lime
.125 oz balsamic vinegar
3 to 4 mint sprigs
2.25 oz tonic
.125 oz balsamic reduction
- Add to shaker tin first four ingredients, muddle.
- Stir in tonic, strain into balsamic reduction-rimmed coupe.
by Vince Early
2 oz Kin Euphoric’s High Rhode
2 oz club soda
1 oz Oregon Fruit Company raspberry pourable fruit
3 dashes of chocolate bitters
3 raspberries for garnish
- Combine raspberry syrup and club soda. Strain the soda through a wire colander and chill.
- Fill a shaker with ice. Add 3 dashes of chocolate bitters
- Add High Rhode, shake until ice crystals form.
- Pour High Rhode into a chilled glass.
- Add raspberry club soda.
- Add garnish.