Over the past decade, the word “mocktail” has entered the drinking lexicon and begun appearing on bar and restaurant menus all over the globe. For some, it’s a trend they love to hate. For others, no-proof cocktails are a welcome sight. So, with National Mocktail Week (January 13-19) currently upon us and seemingly every other person practicing Dry January, we’re looking at the movement with 20/20 vision. Because, sometimes it’s nice not seeing double… or doubles.
National Mocktail Week
National Mocktail Week, observed the second week in January, is a new trend encouraging abstention from ABV. Founder Marnie Rae dreamt up the week-long Prohibition that “supports and celebrates the decision to drink non-alcoholic cocktails,” according to a statement.
“With so many Americans choosing for a variety of reasons to lead an alcohol-free lifestyle, it makes sense that the call for mocktails is on the rise and is not being ignored by those in the hospitality business,” said Rae. “I believe the mocktail movement is about so much more than the drink—it’s about making guests feel welcome at our establishments and included in the moment.”
Reasons to Lose the Booze
We’ve all had the nights when we knew imbibing, however little, was still too much. Maybe you’re meeting friends for happy hour before returning to work to burn the midnight oil. Maybe you just donated blood. (Which you should, since there’s a nationwide blood supply shortage right now.) Maybe you’re cutting out alcohol to cut calories. Maybe you’ve got a baby on board.
Or—the most altruistic of possibilities—maybe you’re the designated driver. We’ve all been there.
Those of us attempting to cut calories may see a benefit from leaving out the ABV. Because, while you can reduce calories by ordering some of your favorite healthy cocktails, alcohol itself still has about 65 calories per ounce of 80-proof spirit. So, you might drop a few pounds and sleep better by going sober—even temporarily—but cutting out the late-night, drink-induced eating might help even more.
How to Drink Without Drinking
On our last jaunt through London, we noticed that virtually every menu at the cocktail bars we visited had a section of the menu for those abstaining. Dubbed anything from “guilt-free” to “boozeless,” there were options for everyone.
These cocktails aren’t just limited to juices, ginger beer, and drinking vinegars—some are utilizing a relatively new product called Seedlip. This zero-ABV liquid was created by a Brit who is “on a mission to change the way the world drinks with the highest quality non-alcoholic options.” The distilled, non-alcoholic spirit lends cocktails the botanicals of gin without the alcohol, calories, or hangover.
Since its launch, Seedlip has extended its line to a second brand made to enjoy with food, Æcorn Aperitifs, to further the alcohol-free experience. Claire Warner, MD of Æcorn Aperitifs says: “Since Seedlip’s launch, the world of non-alcoholic drinks has shown itself to be dynamic and exciting, and we hope that the introduction of Æcorn Aperitifs will additionally help solve the dilemma of what to enjoy with food when you’re not drinking.”
The Financial Effect
And yet, there’s still some prejudice against going booze-free, whether it’s from your thirsty friends or barkeeps who don’t see the point. With so many establishments now on board with the mocktail movement, we were curious to see how it’s affecting sales. When a mocktail is ordered, the bartender will likely spend roughly the same amount of time and effort creating an alcohol-free drink as she would a cocktail, but she can’t charge the same premium since the most expensive element is missing.
Unfortunately, the rise of the mocktail and start-of-the-year sobriety are cutting into bar and retail profits. Started by Alcohol Concern back in 2013, Dry January is gaining momentum. It counted more than three million adherents in 2018 in the UK alone, and across the pond, 21 percent of Americans say they’ll be going dry in January 2019. But for all the good it might do for one’s health, it’s also been blamed for pub closures and some stores losing nearly half their profits to start the year. It’s the kind of news that just might drive someone to drink.