Catering To The Rise of The Sober-Curious Movement
10 May 2022
Alcohol and successful events have historically gone hand-in-hand but more and more people are looking for alcohol-free options these days.
When it comes to organising events, there are three elements that must always be considered first: the venue, the styling, and the food and beverage. And by ‘beverage’, we mean drinks of the boozy kind.
Alcohol and successful events have historically gone hand-in-hand. Champagne is synonymous with celebrations, wine and dinner parties are a match made in heaven, and you know when that cocktail shaker starts shaking, you’re in for a good night. So, it makes sense that providing just the right alcohol at an event is a recipe for success.
Except that now there’s something of a movement happening – a sober-curious movement, that is. As the world finally returns to ‘normal’, people are becoming more conscious of lifestyle choices and, as a result, they’re also looking for healthier options, in both food and drink. Just as you can no longer get away with serving a vegetarian some sad-looking ratatouille at a gala dinner, you can no longer provide soft drinks and juice for the non-drinkers.
“Once upon a time, when you organised an event, you reviewed your dietaries, and all you considered was whether people were vegetarian or not,” explains Kelly Lewis, Managing Director of Flying Ruby Events. “Those days are gone. Now, there’s pescatarian, vegan, gluten-free, levels of gluten-free, and certain intolerances, like wheat and milk and eggs, that all need to be considered. It can be quite tricky.
“Alcohol, on the other hand has, up until recently, been very simple – a wine offering, usually champagne on arrival, and often a cocktail. But now we’re definitely having to accommodate for more non-drinkers. We still want to provide these guests with the same level of social experience as everyone else, so there needs to be a great mocktail, or a decent alcohol-free rose on offer. It should be as curated and carefully considered as deciding on the right red wine to serve with dinner at a gala event.”
The good news is, as the alcohol-free industry grows exponentially, there are so many more options available – ones that smell and taste like the real deal. “I think alcohol-free options have really improved,” says Kelly. “When those first alcohol-free gin options came out, they tasted like grass! And the wines were really sweet and syrupy. It was almost better not drinking at all. But as the industry and the demand for it grows, the options keep getting better. Suddenly, there are alcohol-free sparklings and roses that taste really good, and you wouldn’t even know some of the beers are alcohol-free.”
It’s no wonder the global alcohol-free beer market was valued at US$16.65 billion in 2021. ResearchandMarkets.com predicts this sector will reach US$23.27 billion in 2025. In the past 12 months in Australia, its market share has grown by 101% and sales of alcohol-free beer, wine and spirits have doubled. AB InBev, the world’s largest beer conglomerate, says it expects sales of no- and low-alcoholic beer to represent 20% of sales by 2025, triple its current share. There are now alcohol-free bottle shops like Sans Drinks in Sydney, and non-alcoholic bars like Brunswick Aces in Melbourne. Even Dan Murphy’s has gotten in on the act with the launch of their own non-alcoholic bar, ZERO%.
The overall lift of non-alcoholic options is largely driven by changing mindsets towards consumption. No-alcohol drinks are perfect for occasions like workday lunches when alertness is needed, or late-night events with a big day at work looming the next morning.
“Alcohol-free options at events, small and large, will become standard, just like with different dietaries,” says Kelly. “You could not put on an event these days without a gluten-free option. In fact, now at our menu-tastings for our large gala dinners, we always choose a gluten-free option which is served to everyone. It’s become the norm. It’s only a matter of time before the drinks list at an event, or your favourite bar, will have lots of really great alcohol-free options so everyone is catered for.”
All this talk of non-alcoholic cocktails got you in the mood for one? Here’s a recipe for an Espresso Mock Martini – a Mocktini, if you will – courtesy of Sans Drinks. Cheers.
50ml Ms Sans Non-Alcoholic Vodka
60ml Lyre Coffee Originale or espresso
15ml sugar syrup
Coffee beans to garnish
1. Prepare the espresso coffee beforehand and let it chill.
2. Fill a shaker with ice cubes, add all ingredients.
3. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass swiftly and garnish with coffee beans.