If you're looking to make not drinking a little less boring at social occasions this festive season, we've got some good news. The low and no-alcohol lifestyle is booming and retailers are taking note.
The number of adults drinking alcohol is at its lowest level since 2005, according to a survey released by the Office of National Statistics last year. The same figures also show that more than a quarter of 16-to-24-year-olds do not drink. In response to this, there is now a wider choice of non-alcoholic and low-abv wines, beers and spirits on the market, as consumers are no longer content with the standard soft drink options.
According to drinks innovation company, Distill Ventures, the enthusiasm for this trend is down to three things: a dedication to wellbeing and cutting back on alcohol intake, a focus on memorable experiences (rather than having a heavy night) and curiosity in trying new flavours. This has helped to create "the biggest opportunity in the drinks industry right now", the company said in a recent report. "Today's customers do not want to compromise on taste, atmosphere, or experience regardless of what's in their glass, and whether they're drinking alcohol or not."
The recent success of Seedlip, a non-alcoholic spirit made from distilled botanicals, underlines this attitude. Launched in London by Ben Branson three years ago, the drink is now on offer in over 6,000 bars, restaurants and hotels around the world.
"Society is now at the beginning of a paradigm shift in the role drinks play in our lives and the bigger cultural forces at work mean the need for quality, adult no-alcohol options has certainly never been more relevant," Branson told Good Housekeeping. "We are proud to be leading the way in the 15 international cities Seedlip is now available in."
The demand for grown-up soft drinks has spread across top restaurants and bars, with London bartenders recently reporting that customers want less booze in their cocktails. Even Dandelyan, the world's best bar, offers a number of its inventive plant-based concoctions without the alcoholic ingredient. But what about the retailers? With Christmas coming up, it's safe to say they have upped their game.
Aldi responded to the demand for low and no-alcohol drinks by launching its Zero Point Zero sparkling wine range before the start of the summer. There's a choice of white and rose and along with a lower price point of £2.49, they contain only 35 calories per serving.
With the non-alcoholic drinks market growing by 16% in the past two years, according to Nielsen data, many other retailers have recently followed suit. At Waitrose, the recent move to "co-locate" zero alcohol wines with low/no-alcohol beers and spirits has paid off. "Sales of the zero alcohol wines were up 64% versus the same time last year and no-alcohol spirits are up 10% compared to last year," a spokesperson for the brand confirmed.
New to the range at Waitrose is the latest flavour from Seedlip. Named Grove 42, it uses orange peel as the base and is said to make a great no/low alcohol Negroni. Other products in the range include the Brewdog Nanny State low alcohol beer, the Ebony Vale Alcohol-Free Chardonnay and the Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Alcohol-Free Riesling, which is recommended as a party wine or apéritif.
M&S has launched three new alcohol-free drinks ahead of Christmas, including a Sparkling Botanical G&T, made with seven botanicals and mixed with tonic, and the Red Grape Juice Drink made with merlot grapes. No-alcohol juniper-based spirit Ceder's has also just arrived at Sainsbury's as a gin-alternative.
"The non-alcoholic trend is really exciting for us as we know more and more of our customers are exploring this area, particularly as an alternative to soft drinks at dinner parties," Anne Cooper, Spirits Buyer for the supermarket, commented.
"We understand it can often be hard to find exciting products if you’re not drinking but still looking for something premium, and with the launch of products like Ceder's we’re making sure our customers have more choice without having to compromise on flavour or ingredients."
Cheers to mindful drinking - and to waking up without a hangover.
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