In 2008 I founded a business called School of Booze to educate about and celebrate alcohol. I never would have imagined that a decade later I would be doing so much work connected with Low or No Alcohol. 10 years ago I would also never have believed how dynamic the No-Low sector would be in 2018 with small businesses creating a variety of imaginative and most importantly delicious and satisfying No-Low libations and one-stop on-line shops such as Wise Bartender to sell them.
I do hear sarcastic comments from some people along the lines of ‘What’s the point’, ‘Cardboard’, and ‘I’d rather drink water’. Those are the people who may once have tried Kaliber beer in the 1980s and still regret it.
I am a convert. And as many new converts tend to be, I am a keen evangelist for the No-Low sector. I do still drink alcohol and enjoy it very much, but I am intrigued by the new options available and I am also mightily pleased to have choices if I do not fancy an alcoholic drink. Perhaps I should name a division in my company School of No-Booze.
Some of my work has been with No-Low brands and some work with an organisation called Club Soda which espouses ‘mindful drinking’ and is doing a stellar job producing events, advocating, and giving people a chance to reduce their alcohol units temporarily or permanently. What they are not doing is spoiling anyone’s fun! Through Club Soda I have discovered some incredible brands such as Caleño, a juniper-based spirit that drinks brilliantly in cocktails. The test with no-alcohol spirits comes when consumed neat over ice. Caleño passes with top marks.
My work with Club Soda has also enlightened me in the myriad reasons why people do not drink or are cutting their alcohol units. Here are some of them:
- Some people drink at weekends but not during the week so they can be on top form at work.
- Designated drivers
- Training for a tri-atholon
- Trying to lose weight
- Allergic to alcohol
- Have been drinkers but have chosen to give up.
- Like drinking beer and interspersing a full alcohol beer with a no alcohol option to extend their drinking session.
- Are in the almost 1/3rd of under 25s in Britain do not drink alcohol because that is not how they socialise.
But despite the significant number of people in that sample above and the growing demand for No & Low most hospitality venues in Britain ignore this section of the market and think that fizzy pop, fruit juice or an old bottle of Becks Blue gathering dust will suffice for the non-drinkers. It won’t. Hospitality venues are already having to deal with the increasing number of stay-at-home drinkers/diners, and the fact that those non-drinking Millennials are not going to their venues in the first place. Few businesses can afford to wilfully ignore potential customers so why do virtually all Britain’s hospitality venues do exactly that?
For an insight into the contemporary No-Low sector listen to this edition of The Food Programme on BBC Radio 4 (click on the link or paste it from below). For the show I hosted a beer, cider, wine, spirits, Kombucha tasting for members of Club Soda and we had so many good drinks there was not enough time in the final edit to include them all. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0001sxf
If any hospitality venues or alcohol brand owners are keen to enter the No-Low category and want advice on what to focus on please get in touch with me. You will be future-proofing your business.