Extra are consuming alcohol-free cocktails, spirits, beer and wine

The non-alcoholic beverage industry has skyrocketed over the past year as consumers switch from alcohol-filled nights to their health and wellbeing.

While some drive back completely, others switch to drinks that taste like their favorite drinks, but without alcohol. Once viewed as a passing – even ridiculous – trend, today non-alcoholic wine, beer and, more recently, spirits can be found in bars, restaurants and grocery stores around the world.

However, most consumers of these drinks do not give up alcohol for good. Alcohol analysis company IWSR said 58% of consumers still drink with little or no alcohol, but in moderation.

“With the pandemic, it’s even more important to socialize and connect with friends and family, and drinking is … Co.

The difference is that people now want to “drink healthier”, he said.

Consumers are willing to pay

Whether gin, tequila, vodka or rum, non-alcoholic spirits startup CleanCo claims his line of beverages tastes like the real thing.

Their price points aren’t all that different either.

A 700ml bottle of Hendrick’s Gin costs around $ 40, while the alcohol-free version of CleanCo sells for around $ 25.

But that doesn’t stop consumers from paying the bill. According to the data analysis company NielsenIQ, Non-alcoholic beverage sales rose 33.2% last year to total sales of $ 331 million.

Sales of non-alcoholic beer and cider rose by 31.7%, but above all sales of non-alcoholic spirits rose by 113.4% in the same period.

CleanCos alcohol-free apple vodka and spiced rum.

Courtesy of CleanCo

The cost is justified by the time and labor it takes to create soft drinks that have the same taste, aroma, and mouthfeel as traditional spirits, said Justin Hicklin, chairman of CleanCo.

“We use eight or nine different distillation techniques to extract flavors,” he said. “It’s an enormously complex thing – and quite expensive.”

Hicklin said the juniper used in the company’s non-alcoholic gin comes from a single supplier in Bulgaria – “the best juniper you can buy”.

CleanCo entered the UK market in 2018 after founder Spencer Matthews saw significant upward trends in the once severely underrepresented industry. The brand partnered with Demeter & Co, which launched the company’s soft drinks in the US market in October.

Menashe estimates there are between seven and 10 million potential consumers in the United Kingdom and another 12 to 15 million in the United States.

“We are focusing on these two markets for the next two years,” he said.

Pricing doesn’t seem to be an issue for consumers at the moment.

Mark Livings

Lyre’s CEO

Bottles of non-alcoholic spirits from lyre are even more expensive. Founded in 2019, the company closed a £ 20 million (US $ 26 million) financing round in November, with the company now valued at £ 270 million (US $ 357 million).

“The products contain ingredients sourced from 39 different countries of origin to deliver the exact flavor profile,” said Mark Livings, Lyre CEO. “Some of them are so complex that they have more than 36 different flavors.”

Livings said the brand is in “hyper-growth mode,” with a bottle being sold every 30 seconds.

“Price doesn’t seem to be an issue for consumers right now,” he said.

Interest in Asia and the Middle East is growing

In Asia and the Middle East, too, the increasing demand for non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beverages is increasing rapidly.

Lyre is available in 60 countries and the three largest markets in Asia are Singapore, Hong Kong and mainland China. The company expanded into Malaysia and eight countries in the Middle East that have strict regulations on alcoholic beverages.

“We’re going a completely different way [there] how we take over the rest of the world, “Livings said.” We do this respectfully … make sure we abide by all local laws and all … sensitivities. “

Lyre’s non-alcoholic gin, called “Dry London Spirit”, is the company’s most popular product in the UK.

Courtesy Lyre’s

Livings said it was an exciting time for the global liquor industry “which will bring in a few extra billion people”.

“You would see the highest income earners or the very wealthy prioritize their health, but now it is starting to invade all consumer groups,” he said.

Age is another factor. Younger people who have grown up during wellness movements promoting plant and organic foods are reportedly drinking less alcohol than generations before them Research published by the International Journal of Drug Policy.

However, non-alcoholic spirits are not consumed by everyone. Hong Kong’s Darkside, called the 49th best bar in the world in 2021, relies on ingredients like coconut water, Sichuan peppercorns and kombucha rather than alcohol substitutes.

“We work with kombucha because not only does it create the taste, but we’ve also found that many of the reasons people don’t drink alcohol at social gatherings are because they are on a detox, are on a non-alcoholic diet, or are pregnant. Said Arcadius Rybak, director of bars at Rosewood Hong Kong, where Darkside is located.

“These categories of diners tend to never turn down a beneficial kombucha,” he said.

Not for everyone

Although soft drinks are “becoming the norm rather than the anomaly,” not everyone is inclined to try them, said Singaporean Eunice Tan.

Tan said she doesn’t like the taste of alcohol, so products that mimic the taste of gin or bourbon wouldn’t appeal to her.

Lyre’s alcohol-free Spiced Cane Spirit is one of his bestsellers.

Courtesy Lyre’s

“Because I’ve never been drunk, I don’t know what the ‘original’ tastes like or what ‘buzz’ is like,” she said. “So no, I wouldn’t choose a non-alcoholic alternative … unless I’m throwing a house party and wanted to pamper my guests.”

Some soft drinks are also not completely alcohol-free. According to the IWSR, non-alcoholic drinks are defined as containing less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. However, this is one reason why addiction counselors recommend people with a history of alcohol abuse to avoid these drinks opinions on the subject are mixed, according to Alcoholics Anonymous website.

More choices

Until recently, teetotalers in bars and restaurants could choose between mocktails, soft drinks, juice or water, which for some was not good enough.

“Mocktails have always been too cute and childish … I could mix OJ and 7 Up myself,” Tan said. “If I was eating out or in a bar, I would appreciate the creativity and attention of the house when it comes to adult tastes.”

Cloudstreet’s “I can’t believe it’s not red wine!” is made from cherry juice, pink peppercorns and a mushroom syrup.

Courtesy of Cloudstreet

Dan Durkin, Food and Beverage Director at American Club Singapore, said the response had been positive after the Social Club launched non-alcoholic spirits from the British brand Seedlip.

“When you have a gin and tonic with Seedlip gin, you’d feel like you’re drinking the real deal,” he said.

In addition to health and religious reasons, people asked for these drinks because they “didn’t want to appear out of place with friends or colleagues”. Others want options other than “just a plain old soft drink but something more interesting and handmade,” he said.

Cloudstreet’s “I Really Mead You Right Now” is made from Portuguese honey and flowers.

Courtesy of Cloudstreet

Some restaurants, like Cloudstreet in Singapore, even combine soft drinks with the meal.

“We didn’t want to exclude our non-drinking guests from an entire experience,” said Vinodhan Veloo, Group Beverage Manager, Cloudstreet. “We even serve … pairing in the same wine glasses for consistency.”

The costs? Additional $ 128 ($ 94) per person.

Customers pay top dollars because drinks contain ingredients like Portuguese honey, lapsang souchong (a type of black tea), pink peppercorns, and mushroom syrup, Veloo said.

Hong Kong’s DarkSide has three soft drinks on its menu.

Courtesy DarkSide

According to the IWSR, the trend in soft drinks shows no signs of slowing. The beverage analysis firm predicts the industry will grow 31% by 2024 as more bars and restaurants offer soft drinks.

“I remember going to a restaurant 20 years ago that didn’t have a vegetarian option,” said Hicklin of CleanCo. Similarly, “bars would not survive today if they only sold alcoholic beverages.”