Where’s the craft mocktail?

FebFast has ended and many people succeeded in having a grog-free month. For some it was a chance to take a breather after a long hot summer; for others a chance to try their resolve to start the new year healthier and fitter.

From experience, we know some FebFasters will want to drink less than in the past, having learned they can socialise without needing to get wasted. Some will continue not drinking for a bit longer, to save money or lose weight, or not risk their driver’s licence. FebFast is followed by Dry July and Sober October which also enable people to take a month off and raise money for good causes. They don’t stop going out or partying, or enjoying themselves. They need sophisticated drinks that do not contain alcohol. And they’re prepared to pay. Why is that so hard?

What surprises us is how slow the hospitality sector is to adapt to its customers. GrogWatch received two complaints in the last month. First, a young woman complained that she tried to order a non-alcoholic drink in a bar and was charged $4.20 for a glass of cheap post-mix carbonated water which was three quarters full of ice. The barman couldn’t be bothered adding even a slice of lemon and told her ‘come back when you want to order a real drink’. Nice. That’s really taking care of business. Will she go back?

Second was an older bloke who wanted to know why hotels and restaurants do not serve low-alcohol wines – or even non-alcoholic wines? This was not a question of price – he said he was perfectly willing to pay the same price as regular wine, but in the interest of low risk drinking, and safer driving, he would prefer an alternative to full strength wine that was not a sugary soft drink.

Britain is seeing a new trend in bars that look and feel like standard bars – featuring live entertainment via music, comedy and films but don’t serve alcohol. Smart pubs are mixing their own high end, alcohol free cocktails for people who want to keep sharp for the business dinner or meeting, for the health conscious, and for pregnant women. In New York barmen report their patrons expect custom designed non-alcohol cocktails made with exciting and tantalising ingredients:  And the mixologists are responding – why wouldn’t they – does it matter if their revenue spills from alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks?

Specialist non-alcohol bars in Britain report little trouble with difficult customers and a big saving on security staff – all good for the bottom line. Question is when will Australian bars catch up and cater for this growing market.

Read more about the overseas trend of alcohol-free drinks:

Mocktails Come of Age

Bars but no booze: Plenty of fun in D.C., even without drinking

On the wagon: 10 best non-alcoholic drinks 

VOTE: Should soft drinks be free for drivers at bars, pubs and clubs? 

And closer to home: Health conscious drinkers demand alcohol-free

Related article:

Is alcohol essential to the night time economy?