Celebrating Mocktails: Code The City Challenge

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What are the biggest problems we face in society today?

Loneliness and isolation.

Many people do not have a healthy relationship with alcohol. 7% of the UK population is dependent on it.

There are a lot of people who want to improve their relationship with alcohol, but access to a safe space is a rare luxury.

Team Mindful were presented with a challenge at Aberdeen’s Code The City event sponsored by the NHS.

The problem is encaptured in this quote:

“I never hear of folk having a rocking time on the coffee”

Can we challenge the assumption that you need alcohol in order to have a good time..? YES, WE CAN.

AND we have the data to prove it’ll be welcomed by customers and venues alike.

Addressing the problem

Our first idea was to create a social enterprise beer product that re-invested profits into charities that aided recovery. That’s more of a long-term solution, and doesn’t really address the bigger problem of inclusivity.

Chicken and egg

During discussions with the team we realised there are a lot of venues in Aberdeen that have a mocktail/softtail menu. There are also a lot of venues that have the skills needed to make a bespoke soft drink if requested.

Venues will make a menu if enough interest is shown, and people will ask for the menu if the options are visible. Right now, it’s all a bit “under the counter”. The problem isn’t availability, it’s visibility.

If you are a person in recovery, you may not want to draw attention to yourself. You don’t want to request the mocktail menu, it will make you feel self-conscious. Those in the early days of their recovery won’t feel comfortable being in a venue that has alcohol options available.

Music Festival

Our second idea was to create a one-off event that was soft drinks and alcohol-free only. This idea has a lot of potential to grow, but again, is a long term project which may involve amendments to alcohol licenses.

The Mocktails Awards

Brain Dumping ideas for Team Mindful — and a great mocktail recipe from our wee helper Fee

The idea we’re developing now is one that started as one aspect of the bigger “music festival” idea.

After some fervent Googling, we found a couple of small mocktail competitions and awards. Some in Qatar, some and industry-only events, some are hosted by independent hotels and restaurants to source new ideas for their menus.

It made us think “seriously, no-one has created this yet..?

Some of team Mindful: Matt, Jayne, Carolyne (Fee and Luiz absent)

The Office of National Statistics shows people ages 16–24 are the least likely to consume alcohol. When they do decide the drink, they are the heaviest drinkers of all the age groups. 20.4% of this age group don’t drink alcohol at all.

Since 2005, teetotalism has increased across all age groups from age 16 into adulthood. The only group where teetotalism has decreased is in those aged 65+.

The Scottish Health Survey shows weekly consumption was 16.1 units in 2003 and has decreased to 12.8 units in 2016.

Research shows there’s an increasing polarisation in people’s relationship to alcohol. A growing number have zero/very low consumption, and a growing number consume an unhealthy amount.

Re-invigorating the high street

It’s not just those in recovery from alcohol that aren’t having a good time right now.

Pubs are closing everywhere, with footfall in city centres decreasing throughout the UK.

Independent research from The Gin Room Scotland shows an increasing consumer trend towards higher quality alcohol. Those that like alcohol are becoming more discerning and are more conscious of how they spend their money.

Alcohol drinkers are thinking globally but acting locally; being more proactive with where their money goes.

Consumers are more and more interested in re-investing their money back into the local economy and supporting small business.

It’s about time pub owners capitalised on this trend!

Why this idea is awesome

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At the beginning, were were too fixated on “no alcohol” to help people who are recovery from an alcohol addiction. But that doesn’t address the bigger problems of inclusivity and the “big picture”goal of several communities coming together.

The Mocktails Awards is a multi-venue competition. It celebrates the many award-winning bartenders and mixologists throughout Aberdeen.

Plus, it will showcase the City Centre of Aberdeen as innovators in alcohol-free fun.

The awards give publicity and visibility to venue participants and encourages footfall back into the high street.

A great way to demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility for your company by offering alcohol-free alternatives to those vulnerable to alcohol dependency.

We must have had a bit too much coffee at this point…

It’s a kernel of an idea which can grow into something huge.

It provides a fun event and a clear pathway for people in recovery to have a good night out without alcohol.

We tackle societal problems of isolation and loneliness by encouraging different communities to come together (those in recovery and not in recovery).

It embraces the Aberdeen City Council City Centre Masterplan’s goals of re-invigorating the high street to be energetic, inclusive and fascinating.

Next steps

We are getting in touch with potential partners throughout Aberdeen to launch the first ever Mocktails Awards later this year.

Our team will contact organisations that are interested in re-invigorating the night-time economy of Aberdeen. We will also pitch our idea to UK-wide organisations such as DrinkAware who may be interested in supporting projects that encourage responsible drinking.

Then we will look for sponsors of the event. A perfect partner for us would be a small-medium business that offers alcohol-free spirits or a soft drinks company with an innovative range of soft drinks and mixers.