As the number of alcohol-free drinkers continues to rise in the UK, we speak to drinks industry professionals on how event planners can cater to the growing trend.
Drink to Good Health
“There was a time when delegates or event professionals would have a boozy lunch meeting during their usual business hours, but a cultural change now means this is not acceptable. Outside of the events industry, we can see this change across the board, where younger generations choose more carefully what they consume,” say founders of Bax Botanics, Chris and Rose Bax, highlighting the many benefits of non-alcoholic alongside a growing health- conscious market.
“The appeal of non-alcoholic drinks goes hand in hand with using authentic ingredients, and delegates are now beginning to look for these specific eco credentials on a drinks menu. A drinks product that has clean deck of ingredients, with no indication of acids or E-numbers, demonstrates it is hand-crafted from people rather than a machine in a lab, which is now something that attendees wish for at an event.
“The ball is now in the court for event organisers to cater for the delegates seeking alcohol-free options which still offer great taste and quality. The stigma we may have had on people who choose not to drink alcohol is now lifted, and if planners want to be responsible for their delegates needs, they have to offer the best of both worlds.”
A Stress-Free Option
Recognising the importance of mental wellness for both hospitality professionals and event delegates, Bar Events UK Owner Dan Lakin thinks this increased the appeal for alcohol-free drinks: “There’s been a massive shift of focus over the years for both event delegates and hospitality professionals’ mental health, and I know a lot of bartenders who have stopped drinking in order to better look after themselves during their lives at work and at home.
“There was certainly a level of social pressure in the past for delegates to go with the crowd and drink alcohol even if they didn’t truly want to. But now, we can see that people are more willing to talk openly about how they feel, without any concern for not fitting into their social group.
“Event planners should now make sure that the alcohol-free beverage options visibly listed on catering menus, just like any other food or drink item. Preferably the full drinks menu should already be available for delegates to see before the day of the event, which can help them overcome any potential confidence hurdles in their decision making. But if this isn’t available, delegates should still not feel awkward or uncomfortable to ask the server directly about their non-alcoholic drinks options.
“For hospitality workers themselves, it’s important to be briefed beforehand about the clientele to know how the drinks menu can be adjusted. Setting up the bar accordingly for specific non-alcohol events, and catering for attendees who are driving to the venue or are underage, will also ensure that everyone involved can have the same great event experience.”
Mix It Up
“The rising trend of low and no alcohol drink options is super exciting,” says Managing Director of Zest Mixology, Murdo Macleod, emphasising how the rise of alcohol-free spirits has given mocktail options a newfound broader appeal during events.
“Previously the word mocktail drew very bland connotations, often meaning a basic mixture of juice with soda. But the launch of non-alcoholic spirits has allowed mixologists to add a real element of theatre to serving these drinks, with an extra dimension of taste that makes the non-alcohol option far more interesting. As mixologists, it’s our job to cater for this trend and make events even more exciting.
“One famous bartender once said that the first sip of any drink is with the eye. Delegates should now expect to see hospitality staff be as creative as possible when putting mocktails together, applying the same wild factor elements from a regular cocktail reception. When the drinks are made in such a way, it drives the intrigue and perception of quality for witnesses at the bar. If event delegates don’t want to take a picture of my creation and post it on social media, I’ve not done my job well!
“This fun element now associated with crafting non-alcoholic drinks means that delegates can be proud in their decision to not always go for the booze option during the events experience. Life is all about having choices, and having the option to enjoy the benefits of alcohol, or the benefits without, is a great thing that keeps delegates happy.”
TRY THESE MOCKTAIL FAVOURITES
- 12oz Collins glass
- 12.5ml Grenadine
- Juice of a full lime
- Top with ginger ale and lemonade
- Garnish with a Machicino cherry
Put all ingredients into the glass, top up with the ginger ale and lemonade and garnish with the Machicino cherry.
- 50ml Strykk Not Gin
- 200ml Fever Tree Tonic
- Garnish with orange slices, rosemary sprig, rosemary sprig, blueberries, and a lemon wheel
Fill a balloon glass with cubed ice and add all ingredients. Add all the garnishes, with the lemon wheel fitted on the rim of the glass.
- 50ml Bax Botanics Sea Buckthorn
- 8 mint leaves
- 4 tsp sugar
- 10 blueberries
- Juice of half a lime
- Top up with soda or lemonade
Garnish with mint, blueberries, and lime Muddle the mint and blueberries with the sugar. Add the Bax and lime juice then shake with ice. Strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Garnish with mint, blueberries and lime, then top up with lemonade or soda.