3 - 4 July, 2023
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Why you should have No and Low drinks on your menu

Low and No Drinks

Few trends have transformed the drinks industry in recent years the way that moderation has. From the growing number of non-alcoholic spirit alternatives on the market, to venues introducing low alcohol drinks lists.

Consumers looking to decrease their alcohol intake increasingly expect to find products that cater to this, whether it’s a lighter, aperitif-style section on a cocktail list or a decent selection of alcohol-free drinks in Tesco.

What’s driving No and Low?

Not just designated drivers… The number of people looking for ways to moderate their alcohol intake has been growing for some time. It’s becoming more common, and increasingly acceptable, to choose the sessionable option, the lighter option, or the entirely non-alcoholic option. And as the trend has grown, so have the number of products catering to it – everything from lighter, lower-ABV beers to spirit alternatives like Seedlip.

The moderation trend is being driven by various factors, with health one of the main motivations. But there are social considerations too, with a younger, more connected generation more concerned with their image, and an older generation prioritising clarity and the ability to function better after a night out.

Flavour, too, has a role to play, as well as changes in drinking patterns and occasions. The rise of the aperitif moment, for example, is well aligned with not only lighter, fresher flavours, but drinks that are lighter in alcohol too. 

The benefits of offering No and Low alternatives

Just a few years ago, the options for those looking to drink less, or not at all, when they went out to a bar were few and far between – and the available options were notoriously dull. But now that the drinks industry has responded to the growing trend towards moderation, consumers expect to find these products across drinks categories. In 2022, a drinks offering that doesn’t include No and Low options isn’t catering to the needs of a significant proportion of its customers.

There’s also an argument to be made that greater availability of non-alcoholic options makes the on-trade a more inclusive space, catering better to those that are unable to drink, or choose not to. On a practical level, this broadens a bar’s customer base too.

Meanwhile, there are few drinks lists that wouldn’t benefit from the innovation going on in the Low and No category. Quality has improved significantly in recent years, offering an array of versatile products, made using contemporary techniques and all manner of interesting botanicals.

Nowadays there’s no shortage of new low alcohol drinks, and non-alcoholic alternatives, available in the UK. Below is a selection of some of the more interesting options offering alternatives to spirits and aperitifs.

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Top No and Low Spirits and Aperitifs

Crossip Non-Alcoholic Spirits

While many of the new spirit alternatives that have launched in recent years have set out to emulate existing spirit categories, Crossip aims to reinvent the category, with three signature flavours. The intention is for these to be bold enough to stand up to mixers, and can be used both in cocktails and simple Highball serves. The range, developed by bartender Carl Brown, is made from raw botanical ingredients, and contains zero alcohol. The Crossip range consists of Fresh Citrus, Dandy Smoke and Pure Hibiscus.

Caleño Drinks

Bringing a tropical touch to the non-alc category is Caleño, a pair of drinks inspired by Colombia. The first in the range, Caleño Light & Zesty, is closest to gin, and aimed at daytime drinking, with Inca berry, citrus and spice. Dark & Spicy, meanwhile, is more suited to the night, with dark pineapple notes paired with ginger kola nut spice. Light & Zesty is, unsurprisingly, ideal for serves with tonic, while Dark & Spicy works with ginger ale.

Everleaf Non-Alcoholic Aperitifs

The aperitif moment is perfectly suited to non-alcoholic serves, typically associated with lighter drinks packed with botanical flavours. There’s arguably no better way to make a non-alc Spritz than with Everleaf, created by bar operator and former conservation biologist Paul Mathew. Everleaf Forest blends citrus with spice, while Everleaf Marine combines juniper, bergamot and citrus with sea buckthorn and olive leaf. Everleaf Mountain, meanwhile, includes rosehip, black cherry and juniper.

Salcombe Distilling New London Light

In addition to its range of spirits, Salcombe Distilling produces a range entitled New London Light, a collection of non-alcoholic spirits and aperitifs. First Light is aimed at gin drinkers, with classic flavours of juniper, citrus, sage and ginger. Aegean Sky is said to capture “the essence of the vibrant Mediterranean coast”, ideal for Spritzes. Midnight Sun, meanwhile, is inspired by Nordic regions, with seaberries, elderberries, kelp and pine.

Sentia Gaba Spirit

Professor David Nutt was a government drugs advisor until he was sacked in 2009 for criticising what he describes as the hypocrisy of drug policy in the UK. He’s now professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, and has also created Sentia, a spirit designed to enhance GABA, a neurotransmitter that produces a calming effect. Sentia Red is said to have floral notes, as well as gentian, tulsi and aronia, with spiced berries on the bittersweet finish. 

Strykk Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirits

While many of non-alcoholic spirits on the market are positioned as premium products, and usually targeted towards at-home drinkers, Strykk has set out to democratise the category, and has catered to the on-trade from the outset. The affordable, accessible range is made with no added sugar or artificial flavours, and offers alternatives to a number of alcoholic products. The current range includes Not Aperitivo, Not G*n, Not R*m, Not V*dka and Not Vanilla V*dka.

Lyres

If you’re looking for a non-alc alternative to a spirit or liqueur, Lyre’s probably have it. The brand offers a comprehensive range of products, from White Cane Spirit to Italian Spritz, via Agave Blanco and Ameretti. The brand produces premixes in cans too, and there’s even a celebratory sparkling wine alternative entitled Classico Grande.

Laura Willoughby, Founder of Club Soda, will be hosting a masterclass on "Drinks for everyone: How alcohol free is a priority for your customers" at the upcoming Imbibe Live event on 4-5 July.

View the full masterclass programme and register now to get your ticket to Imbibe Live, the UK's biggest drinks trade event.

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