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The Experience Brands Weekly #187

The non-alcoholic future

This week was Imbibe and amongst many interesting talks and stands we went to, one talk on non-alcoholic drinks got us thinking. Giuseppe González is a bartender who has been sober for several years, who talked about many things including why he thinks mocktail menus are stupid. This may seem counterintuitive for someone who would go to a bar and be looking for something non-alcoholic to drink, but it makes sense when you think of the realities of a mocktail menu. By simply separating the non-alcoholic drinks into a different menu, you are already creating a division – suggesting that someone who is choosing not to drink is other in some way – they have to have a different menu. This division of non-alcoholic drinks in bars reinforces the stigma that is attached to not drinking alcohol in this environment, it creates separation that Giuseppe is determined to eliminate.

Reducing the stigma around drinking non-alcoholic drinks makes sense when you consider the shift in drinking behaviour that is going on. Younger people are drinking less, so if bars and pubs want to maintain their position as the place to socialise particularly in the evenings, they need to offer an inclusive experience for non-drinkers.

If the mocktail menu is not the way to go, how can bars and pubs become more inclusive places for those hosing not to drink? Well Giuseppe has 4 suggestions:

  1. Don’t add anything new, just put it all in one menu. For example, in their cocktail menu, the Savoy always has one non-alcoholic option on each page. No non-alcoholic section, just listing all the options together.
  2. Make use of labels – like there are V or GF in food menus to indicate which products are suitable for people with different diets, just do that for the non-alcoholic options rather than separating them. Simple, subtle and a system consumers are already used to.
  3. Go further and create temperate versions of all your drinks. Challenge your bartenders to create non-alcoholic versions of all your cocktails that taste just as great, so that if you are not drinking you can still have a great drink.
  4. Offer more good quality non-alcoholic options. You only need to look at the rise of coffee shops, juices and smoothies to know that there are already very popular non-alcoholic options, the trouble is that bars have not been great at offering great quality options of these. People are willing to spend on quality, so offer them great non-alcoholic options and put as much effort into them as you do your alcoholic options.

Some of these are quick fixes, others are harder, but they all go some way to making pubs and bars more inclusive places for those who don’t drink, and are necessary steps to make sure that pubs and bars can defend their place as somewhere people socialise and spend time as our drinking behaviour changes.


Other Bites:

Since it’s Pride in London this weekend, these our some of our favourite Pride campaigns from Brands.

Volvo: Modern Families

Volvo have changed the family parking icons at Westfield to make them more reflective of modern families of all shapes and sizes.



Lily’s Kitchen: Full of Love & Pride for Dogs/Cats

Lily’s Kitchen have release limited edition products with a psychedelic rainbow design. Each pack sold will result in a donation to Stonewall.



DublinBus: Proud Dad’s

This might take the top spot – DublinBus helped Dad’s celebrate Pride in Dublin with their children.