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Sober with a Twist

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“Pathetic, Embarrassing, what old people do”. This is how millennials perceive being drunk according to a recent survey 1. It is, therefore, no surprise that 66% of UK adults have visited a licensed venue and not drank alcohol 2. The list of reasons is long. Health & wellbeing, environmental, religion, ethics or even Insta-Anxiety with half of the young consumers worried their online image whilst drinking 3. It would be hard to survey a bar crowd without one of these being important to one or all the guests.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we are heading towards last orders for alcohol. One third of guests who chose not to drink booze do so for health reasons 4. However, 54% of people who have purchased non-alcohol beer & wine admit to drinking alcohol weekly. This bares many similarities to the rise of vegan/vegetarianism as part of a healthier lifestyle, with 33% of the population cutting down on meat, but over half of these occasionally eating it! 5

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn

By Samuel Johnson

 As Samuel Johnson once said, “There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn"”. The bar has always been a place for community, fun and experience. People are not abstaining from socialising just because they are abstaining from alcohol. Indeed, there were 2 billion visits to the On Trade last year 6.

When it comes to non-alcoholic spirits, the category is about to explode, with predictions it will grow on average 81% every year until 2022 7. Ceder’s Non-Alcohol spirit or “Alt-Gin” managed to become a £1 million brand within 9 months of launch in the supermarkets 8. The key is not to alienate guests who are visiting whilst staying on the wagon. It isn’t about drastic change but about offering credible replicas, so they can fit in with their alcohol imbibing peer group. Having an Instagram worthy drink, served in beautiful glassware with a vibrant colourful garnish as opposed to a glass of tap water will make them inclusive.



The terminology should not make it sound a lesser drink. Ditch “Mocktails” and “Virgin” from your menu in favour of “virtuous” or my personal favourite from the Savoy Hotel – “Non Toxic Tonins”.  And the opportunity is big – with 9 million consumers finding non-alcohol spirits appealing 9.

So why not embrace JOMO, Joy of Missing Out, (fingers crossed that catches on!). Whether your guests are celebrating a birthday but have a marathon the next Sunday or just because “nothing good ever happens after 2 am 10,” think about is your bar offering exciting drinks to keep guests enjoying themselves for a good time and a long time.

1. EventBrite survey 2017

2. CGA Consumer Panel September 2017

3. Red Brick Road; The Last Round Jan 2019

4. CGA Consumer Panel September 2017

5. Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2018-19

6. CGA BrandTrack February 2019

7. IWSR  Low and No Alcohol Report 2019

8. Nielsen | Total Coverage | Value Sales 52 weeks data to 23.03.2018

9. CGA Business Leaders Survey 2019

10. How I Met Your Mother TV show 2006

About the author

David Kirkham

Category Development Manager at Pernod Ricard UK.

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