We are just a fortnight away from the new year. What's on your home bar this celebratory season? Gone are the days when people believed that parties were boring without alcohol. These days, people continue to say cheers and chug a beer, however, with the aim to celebrate sober. Mixologists, tipplers, and marketeers have confided in a conversation with the Free Press Journal that there’s a twist in the drinking trend. What’s it all about? It’s about people wanting to sip and dance with wine and whiskey, but the non-alcoholic way. It is learned that many are moving towards non-alcoholic alternatives of beer, wine, rum, and other distilled beverages.
Choice of social butterflies
In case you’re wondering whether these traditionally high spirits are being accepted and enjoyed with the same kick-like experience, we have you covered. “For me, alcohol is a no-no and parties are all hitting the dance floor with some non-alcoholic wine or mocktails. I feel there’s no need to forcefully drink alcohol to fit in one’s circles. These alternatives are cool enough to vibe right,” says 26-year-old Bhavya Sharma.
Healthier way of saying cheers!
While not getting high and still vibing in the celebration mood seems to be a reason to embrace non-alcoholic beverages, Vibin Thomas, Marketing Head at Coolberg, says, “The desire for healthier alternatives, diverse flavours, and responsible social experiences are all contributing factors to the growing popularity of non-alcoholic options, making them a significant force in the beverage market.” “It’s a growing Sober-Curious Movement,” he adds.
Sober & cool
Sober Curious? What's that, you may ask. It's about turning away from alcohol mainly on a health-conscious note, wanting to take a break from booze and involve trying and tasting non-alcoholic drinks which wouldn't leave them drunk or result in a hangover. “The focus here lies on making deliberate choices about drinking, promoting a healthier lifestyle, and fostering a sense of mindfulness around alcohol consumption. It's not necessarily about complete abstinence but rather about being more aware and intentional regarding alcohol intake,” says Mixologist Sonali Mullick who is known for her amazing cocktail recipes at Hitchki and Bayroute.
But why non-alcoholic beer, not soda or juice?
But why go for non-alcoholic beer instead of the usual juice and cold drinks? "Earlier, people preferred a normal soda or juice over a cocktail, but the younger generation is now willing to try mocktails and is driving this trend. Since everything is now digital, everyone would want to taste the many Instagrammable drinks on your menu," says Mullick, soothing our curiosity about drinking behaviour. She further recommends people to sip the colourful “Main Toh Superman” to keep up with sober-curious goals.
Mocktails vs cocktail
Mullick also tells us about her personal favourite drink while talking about adopting alcohol-free lifestyles. She reveals that her heart goes for Heineken 0.0% while describing it to be "Crisp and refreshing just like the actual beer minus the alcohol." "Mocktails are non-alcoholic cocktails. Interestingly, most of the cocktails can be executed as in their non-alcoholic version. Good examples are Margarita, Bloody Mary, and Fruit Punch," says Jenu, Mixologist, one8 Commune.
Sugar-free options to embrace authentic taste
Similar to many products that are offered in a sugar-free option, non-alcoholic beers also follow the consumption trend. It is believed that such drinks present a more authentic beer-like taste, bringing alive the bitterness. However, it's debatable whether non-alcoholic alternatives are universally preferred for retaining a more "real" taste.
"Why even drink beer or rum without alcohol?" asks 70-year-old alcohol connoisseur Kishor Gaikwad who prefers to keep spirits the original way to enjoy them better. Adding to this opinion, the one8 Commune spokesperson says, "Not many prefer to alternate their cocktails with a nonalcoholic version. It's honestly boring."
A look into the growing market of non-alcoholic alternatives
Meanwhile, Vibin remarks that the market of non-alcoholic beverages is in its nascent stage and is gradually witnessing growth. He also finds that these drinks might emerge as a competitor to the originally alcohol-based spirits. "The non-alcoholic beverage market is still evolving, and its long-term impact on the alcoholic beverage industry remains to be seen. However, they are undoubtedly gaining traction and can pose significant competition in specific market segments,” he says while adding, “Coolberg's success demonstrates the growing potential for non-alcoholic beverages to capture a significant market share by offering a premium, flavorful, and healthy alternative to traditional options.”