Will this year be the death of the tipple?

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Alcoholic beverages have long been engraved in the British psyche, from relaxing with a few beers after work on a Friday, to toasting momentous events with a glass of bubbly, us Brits turn to alcohol when mere tea will not do, to relax, to celebrate and even to mourn.

Alcohol has become prevalent at every event and is how we celebrate upcoming nuptials and Santa’s imminent arrival alike. However, now the hospitality industry is seeing a shift away from 2 for 1 cocktails and dirty pints, to carefully crafted soft drinks and specially paired teas.

So why are we seeing this change?

Health Conscious

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Now more than ever, people are taking their health into their own hands. This could mean a specifically tailored diet, the omission of certain foods or something coupled with a fitness or wellness plan. The customer has become unyielding when it comes to personal welfare. Though red wine may be touted as having resveratrol and antioxidants, with up to 125 calories per serving, it is no wonder people opt for a sparkling water.

It is not just the alcohol itself, but everything associated with a night on the town that seems to have fallen out of favour. From the poor food choices or the cigarette that seems like a great idea at 3am, people are now less willing to put themselves in a situation that will compromise their efforts thus far.

Edible Ethos

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With more movements towards sustainability, banning straws, eating seasonally and generally being aware and accountable for where our food comes from, there is a limited appeal to the fluorescent shots or sugar laden alcopops that were at the forefront of every Noughties bar. Instead of settling into a happy hour and sinking a pitcher of Cheeky V if customers are looking to drink, they want something tailored, bespoke and original.

This allows mixologists a free reign to their creativity, liaising with top notch craft distilleries and finding the narrative behind every garnish. Customers are showing they are happier to wait and pay for one incredible drink and truly appreciate it.

Less drunk and disorderly

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The British have made rather a poor name for themselves with our raucous drinking habits, from football hooliganism to swarming party towns with inebriated tourists, we are seeing a u turn from the negative portrayal. Once, a good night out was measured by how little you could remember but as we move away from that mind-set, it is no longer appropriate or acceptable to be drunk and disorderly.

Previously a lunchtime business meeting would have been accompanied by a glass of wine or a swift pint, but many now feel unprofessional ordering alcohol while conducting business. This new attitude is a far cry from an even a ten years ago let alone the Decade of Decadence (aka the eighties) but public awareness has brought a positive change.

So what is on the rise?

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By groups of people within the public turning away from alcohol, there is a gap in the market that needs to be filled and thus we are seeing the rise of the health drink. These soft drinks are infused with adult flavours that not only please but also challenge the palate, as well as offering additional nutrients or other benefits.

Dirty Lemon is a soft drink brand in the USA that has specially crafted beverages aimed towards improving sleep, detoxing the body or improving skin. Dirty Lemon claim their sleep formula which includes Bulgarian Rose Water and Magnesium is blended with the purpose of great sleep in mind: “The sleep formula draws its function from a combination of calming botanicals along with magnesium and rose water to promote drowsiness and mental relaxation while also supporting hydration and skin rejuvenation overnight.”

Nix and Kix include chilli in all of their adult soft drinks for the health properties this fiery ingredient offers. According to Nix and Kix : “Capsaicin (the hot bit) in chillies has metabolism boosting and energy releasing properties. Even better though: it also increases endorphin levels and provides a natural, happy feeling.”

Seedlip, whose tagline is ‘What to drink when you’re not drinking’, has mastered the art of non-alcoholic drinks. Using aromatics such as cardamom, oak and cascarilla in its Spice 95 non-alcoholic spirit, and herbal flavours such as hay, spearmint, rosemary and thyme in its delicious and aesthetically-pleasing Garden 108 spirit, Seedlip has achieved something truly exciting. The brand is also totally sugar-free, sweetener-free and contains absolutely no calories.

Thomas & Evans, an aromatic botanical beverage by Wisehead Productions, has every non-drinker and occasional drinker looking forward to nights out. Made with botanical flavours, this crisp and complex sparkling drink is carefully crafted using more than 20 ingredients, including silver birch charcoal, filtered green fruit juices and steam-distilled botanicals. At just 83 calories per bottle, paired with a slice of apple and a sprig of rosemary, or orange bitters, Thomas & Evans is a perfect non-alcoholic beverage.

Claiming to ‘exploit the synergies between the coffee and alcohol industries’ Fitch Brew Coffee is another fascinating venture. This Leeds-based company, spearheaded by two industry experts, aims to create a unique coffee product, using high-quality coffee beans, roasted and ground to extract their rich flavour, before being cold brewed and filtered to leave a smooth and clean product. If you’re looking for a caffeine boost in place of an espresso martini, Fitch Brew Coffee is highly recommended.

Products like this are picking up the mantle that alcohol held for so long.

Though not all are looking to put down their pints in favour of a probiotic, it is enough that the hospitality industry needs to look at alternative products to stock in order to cater to them. It is a trend that has been seeing traction in the last couple of years and is only looking to continue to grow in the future.