Like a virgin- the millennial mocktail movement

Sober-curious millennials are drinking less than ever before and this is causing a seismic shift in the bar industry. A focus on healthier living and social movements such as Dry January (over five million people took part this year) is encouraging people to, on occasion, ditch the booze and revel in a hangover free lifestyle.

Not too long ago, the options for abstainers was unimaginative to say the least. A thoughtless list of sugar-laden mocktails if you were lucky, otherwise endless glasses of water was about as exciting as things got. These days, while some people don’t want to consume alcohol they aren’t willing to compromise on flavour and experience. Apple juice mojitos and Shirley Temples just don’t cut it anymore so it’s no surprise that many bars and brands are responding to demand by adding more sophisticated non-alcoholic options to their cocktail lists.

Whilst non-alcoholic drinks are never going to be a bars best seller, by specifically designing and showcasing an alternative option to drinkers, it acts as a statement of intention and engages with those who are often find themselves excluded. It shows guests you care about their experience.

This isn’t as mammoth a task as it may seem, if you think back to a few years ago, a vegetarian would have been hard pushed to get a decent meal in a restaurant that wasn’t a stuffed mushroom or nut roast but as vegetarianism gained traction chefs began to think outside the box and look at how to make meat free dishes complex, interesting and most importantly delicious. Most eateries are now accessible to everyone, with all dishes created with equal care and attention regardless of lifestyle choices or dietary needs of the diner.

While this trend for ‘virginism’ may worry some operators, its actually an opportunity for them to challenge themselves. It’s a chance to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, and showcase the knowledge and skills of bartenders up and down the country – how do you add depth of flavour and mouthfeel to a drink when the main ingredient is removed?

Crafting an alcohol-free menu can be exciting. We are finding more and more people are requesting such options at events and we are only too happy to oblige, finding new and creative ways to inject flavour and flare into booze-less serves. With the lead ingredient being omitted, there’s room to inject other vices such as cold brew coffee and chocolate or play with grown-up flavours such as chai spices and fresh herbs.

Using this principle we have created a selection of delicious non-alcoholic cocktails for our Arribar! clients that offer an exciting alternative for those who choose not to drink for whatever reason. One of our most popular options is the Tea Amo cocktail which is a blend of Earl Gray tea, lavender simple syrup and fresh blackberry puree lengthened with sparkling water. Delicious as it is but we make it extra indulgent by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream, dairy free if required, to create a gorgeously grown-up ‘float’ that is perfect for a summer soirée or wedding reception.

Although alcohol will never go out of fashion, mixology is about being skilled at crafting drinks regardless of whether they contain booze or not. With millennials choosing to drink less and better when they do, it’s time to shake up the cocktail scene and encourage an inclusive drinking culture that’s built on quality, creativity and craftsmanship.