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A group of people toasting with non-alcoholic beverages for an article about the sober curious trend

Non-Alcoholic, Alcohol Alternative, Mocktail, Sober Curious, Sober Sometimes, Abstinence…call it what you will, but low or non-alcoholic beverages (LONO) are more than trending. According to IWSR, bottled low- and no-alcohol beverages in the U.S. will grow by about 32% between 2018 and 2022 – triple the category’s growth over the previous five years. Individuals are seeking drinks with fewer calories and less sugar and are cutting back on drinking for a variety of reasons. According to Morning Consult data, 67% of respondents are drinking less because they desire a healthier lifestyle, 55% want to save money and 44% want to lose weight. Furthermore, nearly half of consumers, regardless of age, have purchased non-alcoholic alternatives, and just over four in 10 of the drinking-age population does not drink.

Bubble Effect: Health-conscious consumers are trading in soda for sparkling water because it has less sugar, fewer calories, and is available in a variety of flavor profiles, many of which are natural. This trend has spilled into hard seltzers that range in 4 to 6 percent alcohol-by-volume content (ABV). White Claw is a good example of the proliferation. According to Nielsen, sales of White Claw grew 283% to $327.7 million in July 2019 compared to the same period last year. The brand has become so popular, in September, it was reported there was a nationwide shortage in the United States. Anheuser-Busch introduced Natural Light Seltzer in two flavors: Aloha Beach with Mango and Peach, and Catalina Lime Mixer with Black Cherry and Lime. Stray Forth is a new self-titled line of craft hard seltzers made in small batches available in four flavors: Clairvoyance (Guava Hibiscus)Enchant-mint (Blackberry Cucumber)Safari (Tangerine Passionfruit), and Walkabout (Watermelon Kiwi)Canteen is a new sparkling vodka soda formulated with all-natural flavors without sugar, carbs, or sodium. The brand’s debut includes Black CherryCucumber Mint, GrapefruitLime, and Watermelon flavors. Joia Spirit recently released a line of low-sugar Ready-To-Drink (RTD) premium sparkling cocktails in three varieties: Sparkling GimletSparkling Margarita Bright, and Sparkling Vodka Soda. Philadelphia-based Mingle Mocktails expanded its range of upscale alcohol alternatives with the launch of its fifth variant Blood Orange Elderflower. In honor of Pabst Blue Ribbon’s 175th anniversary, the brand has introduced a selection of new items including two polarizing products Pabst Blue Ribbon Non-Alcoholic and Pabst Blue Ribbon Stronger Seltzer with an 8% ABV.

Non-Alcoholic Distilled Spirits: Consumers may be drinking less alcohol, but they still crave complex and unique non-alcoholic beverages and flavor profiles. In 2016, SeedLip Drinks pioneered non-alcoholic spirits. Dubbed as “the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits copper pot distilled,” the company offers three flavors. Spice 94 Aromatic features botanicals, allspice, cardamom, oak, lemon, and grapefruit while Garden 108 Herbal highlights botanicals, peas, hay, spearmint, rosemary, and thyme. Grove 42 Citrus is the brand’s newest flavor and includes bitter orange, blood orange, mandarin, lemon, lemongrass, and ginger. With a tagline “All The Spirit, None Of The Alcohol,” UK brand Strryk offers a line of zero-proof alcohol alternatives. Not Gin blends juniper, basil, and rosemary while Not Rum uses clove, oakwood, and grapefruit and Not Vodka combines cucumber, coriander, and apple. London-based Nine Elms launched No.18, an “intricately crafted” alcohol-free beverage formulated with botanical infusions from 20 different flowers, herbs, and spices as well as the juice of four different berries. Sea Arch is a new zero-ABV “gin alternative” made with 11 botanicals that are twice-distilled with alcohol in a copper pot still with spring water and then the alcohol is removed. It is said to have a base flavor of juniper with cardamom, blood orange, grapefruit, and sea kelp notes. Asda Supermarkets in the UK released Extra Special Non-Alcoholic London Dry Spirit and Extra Special Non-Alcoholic Rhubarb & Ginger London Dry Spirit. Australian beer manufacturer, Victoria Bitter, has launched a novel new product Victoria Bitter Tea, which are tea bags made with Ceylon black tea and VB Super Pride Hops and are designed to taste like a beer but are non-alcoholic beverages.

Sober Bars: Bars are traditionally a place to socialize and often cater to the nightlife crowd with very few options for non-alcoholic beverages. However, until now it has been difficult to find a venue to socialize without it being centered around drinking. To fill the void, alcohol-free bars are emerging. According to Mintel, mocktails experienced 43% growth on menus from 2015-18.

Chris Marshal, a licensed alcohol and drug addiction counselor, opened Sans Bar in 2017 in Austin, Texas. The alcohol-free bar’s mission is “To provide a safe and sober environment for people to have fun while promoting personal and social wellness” and due to its popularity, Sans Bar established franchise locations in Los Angeles and Kansas City. Ambrosia Elixirs has two Brooklyn locations, Bushwick and Williamsburg, and is self-described as “a non-alcoholic, plant-based community, which provides safe spaces where people can connect booze-free in an immersive environment inspired by the spirits of medicinal herbs.” Founder Valeria de la Pava was born in Colombia and creates botanical elixirs, specialty tea blends, and herbal lattes and herbal ferments such as Jun and Kombucha. Getaway Bar in Greenpoint, Brooklyn is an alcohol-free bar, which features an eclectic mix of drinks such as the “A Trip To Ikea” with Lingonberry, lemon, vanilla, cardamom and cream and “Daters Gonna Date” with Medjool date, peanut butter, lime, banana syrup, vanilla, macadamia nut milk, and Coco Rico soda. This establishment is designed to “provide a social space that is not centered around alcohol.” Opened one night every month Listen Bar in Manhattan’s trendy Noho neighborhood, features a booze-free bar with bartenders who are musicians that “curate the playlists with their music, their friends’ music, and their influences.”  Catering to different palates and “the often underserved attention to dietary constraints in the bar world,” the menu is created by high-profile mixologists, together with herbal and nutrition experts. Across the pond, UK supermarket Sainsbury’s opened The Clean Vic, a July 24th and 25th two-day pop-up pub that served non-alcoholic and low alcohol drinks. This was in response to a 31.8% increase in Sainsbury’s sales of no and low alcohol alternatives in the last 12 weeks, and a 33% rise in customers searching for non-alcoholic products online. With three London locations, Redemption is “the world’s healthiest bar restaurant, serving up vegan, sugar-free and wheat-free food with an alcohol-free bar” and a “Spoil yourself without spoiling yourself” motto. Ireland’s first alcohol-free bar The Virgin Mary opened in May 2019 in Dublin and serves bespoke non-alcoholic cocktails that “are designed to emulate the taste and mouthfeel of alcoholic drinks.”

Health and wellness is a lifestyle trend and there has been a shift in attitudes towards alcohol consumption. Appealing to all walks of life from teetotalers to sober curious, low or non-alcoholic beverages are on the rise. Expect to see more hard seltzers and spiked RTD beverages as well as well-crafted, premium mocktails and alcohol-free bars.

Fall is here. Let Trendincite LLC custom-design a social, non-alcoholic team building trend excursion, a bubbly marketing presentation, a sober newsletter or a curated retail list of intriguing bars and restaurants that specialize in premium, craft mocktails, and zero-proof cocktails.

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