A wider availability of low- and no-alcohol beverages has driven menu mentions and interest among consumers.
Mocktail Mentions Skyrocket
The word “mocktail” is the single fastest-growing term on adult-beverage menus, according to a report from Chicago-based Datassential — up 489% over the past 12 months. Interest in low- and no-alcohol beverages, however, has not shifted year over year.
Consumers are more interested in craft mocktails than alcohol-free mentions. This is the only category of low- or no-alcohol items that increased in awareness over the past year; 64% of drinkers report they are now aware of this as a trend. Interest in alcohol-free items (beer, wine, and spirits) hovers around 33% for consumers overall, with wine and liquors having higher interest than beer.
Source: Datassential’s “2023 Future of Drink”
Puttin’ On the Spritz
Aperol spritz (known for being relatively lower in alcohol than other cocktails) is a trending term up 166% over the past four years, according to Datassential’s “2023 Future of Drink” report. The term “spritz” grew its presence on drink menus by 113% during the past four years.
The Current Climate
Mintel’s “2022 Alcohol Usage Report” is that consumers continue to rethink their relationship with alcohol and explore a sober-curious lifestyle. Consumers largely hold positive views toward alcohol and most sober-curious consumers are primarily interested in making alcohol an occasional indulgence; very few consumers plan to entirely give up alcohol, according to the report.One of the top takeaways from
The sober-curious lifestyle is increasingly inching into the mainstream as demonstrated by the rise of annual events such as Dry January, with 41% of consumers agreeing that no-alcohol months are a fun challenge, and the growth of mocktails on restaurant menus (over a third of restaurants now offer mocktails on menu), according to Mintel.
Q&A with Olivier Rassinoux
Q: How prevalent are low- and no-alcohol beverages in restaurants?
A: These have increased almost twofold. Just like with vegetarian items, there has to be a portion of the menu or at least one mocktail option. Only a small percentage will ask for it, but we need to anticipate it now.
Q: Why has the popularity grown?
A: I’m a big proponent of low-alcohol cocktails. “Sessionable” is a word used within the beer category and denotes a beverage you can drink all day [which is the case with no- or low-alcohol cocktails]. Having sessionable cocktails, beer or wine is now essential. If you’re having a few courses, you can drink these beverages throughout and pair them with dishes. It brings balance to beverages in the same way we approach food: Not everything is buttery, rich or heavy. You need something light to break things up.
Q: What do you attribute to the appeal?
A: These appeal to the health-conscious since some of these spirits have less calories. I’m a big fan of carbonated beverages, and this trend amplifies it. Sparkling water has grown as a category tremendously, and now we’re seeing the effects of that in the low- and non-alcohol space. There has been a rise in seltzers with low ABV. Also, Negroni Sbagliato, made famous due to online chatter, was the No. 1 ordered drink. It leans into carbonated beverages, and, if making a spritz, we can incorporate nonalcoholic spirits so people can have more than a couple at a time.
Q: What equipment is integral in creating low- and no-alcohol beverages?
A: With the big rise in fancy frozen drinks with low or no alcohol, the frozen drink machines are being used more often. Also, nitrogenating cocktail machines are more prevalent that don’t require oxygen but rather use the air. These create a nice foam on top and add an interesting element. A cold press juicer is another item that can be incorporated, depending on the volume. The cold press process retrieves the essences from the fruit’s skin oil, which does not happen with a traditional juicer.
By the Numbers
- 71% of sober-curious consumers worry about the long-term health effects of alcohol consumption compared with 57% of total consumers.
- 57% of consumers agree that nonalcoholic drinks should taste indistinguishable from the real thing.
- 31% of consumers cite “low-calorie” as important when choosing an alcoholic beverage; 30% cite “low-sugar.”
- 18% of Gen Z consumers drink CBD beverages as an alcohol substitute.
Source: Mintel’s “2022 Alcohol Usage Report”