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What’s With All the Buzz Around Non-Alcoholic Booze?

Walk into Dublin’s The Virgin Mary Bar during happy hour and it looks like every other stylish drinking joint you’ll see in the city. Dim lighting, a well-stocked bar, and groups of friends sipping cocktails around a table. Except its not cocktails. In fact, The Virgin Mary is completely alcohol-free.

If you’ve ever been “sober-curious” or tried out “Dry January”, this might make a lot of sense. There’s been a growing focus on well-being and the shift toward health consciousness has skyrocketed in the last few years, and the alcohol industry has had to adapt quickly.

The Covid-19 lockdowns pushed many people to make lifestyle changes, which included cutting down on their alcohol intake. Mental health maintenance was also a major concern and fitness goals were set in order to spend more time outdoors. Consumption of alcohol is believed to have negative effects on physicality and increase anxiety and depression, so many chose to cut it out of their diets during this time.

Since the world has opened back up, people have seemed to want to maintain this healthy lifestyle. There is a renewed need to be social, which presents a lot of opportunities to drink. They also miss the taste of alcohol, so they are turning towards alcohol alternatives instead.

More sophisticated offerings of non-alcoholic beverages have also helped fuel consumer interests. Bars, grocery stores, and restaurants have an array of options, with some fine dining establishments even offering specially curated non-alcoholic pairings with their different courses.

In analyzing this trend, we looked at 65 keywords associated with alcohol-free beverages over the past year and found that there was a 17% spike in search interest. There was also a 18% growth in searches for ten popular non-alcoholic brands, including Seedlip, Curious Elixirs, and Ghia. It’s evident that this trend is steadily increasing, and is likely here to stay.

Non-Alcoholic Spirits Aren’t the Cheaper Option

It’s generally believed that refraining from drinking alcohol is usually the more affordable way to go, but the price of non-alcoholic spirits is not that much different to the price points of their counterparts. The average price of non-alcoholic beverages on Amazon is around USD $39, while alcoholic beverages are about USD $51.

Alcohol-free brands justify the costs by highlighting the time, effort, and labor costs needed to recreate the taste of regular spirits. It’s a similar, meticulous process, so consumers are willing to pay.

Non-Alcoholic Beer Reigns Over the Booze-Free Options

Global search interest in non-alcoholic beer over the past 12 months far outweighs the others, with a score of 83 on Google Trends, followed by non-alcoholic wine at 52, then gin (11), cocktails (9), and whiskey (8) consecutively.

Ireland, Australia, and the United States top the list for highest interest in non-alcoholic beer, but there’s been a growing interest in the Middle East and Asia as well, in countries like the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, India, and Singapore.

Expect to See More Sober Bars

Non-Alcoholic Bars are popping up all over the world. Besides The Virgin Mary Bar, which opened a franchise in Abu Dhabi last December, there’s also the Brunswick Aces Bar in Melbourne, and Tokyo’s 0%. In the United States, there’s the Sans Bar in Austin, Awake Bar in Denver, and most recently, Dry Mill Bar in Columbus, Ohio.

If we didn’t know any better, these sober bars look exactly like any other bar would. The goal is to make sober bars feel as normal as possible, and to remove any stigma from peoples’ choice of not to drink.

Chicago Native, Cristina Torres, is working on debuting her alcohol-free bar, Bendición Dry Bar. Her motivation for setting up the bar was born from her own struggle to “find a hangout that didn’t revolve around alcohol after she got sober in 2020.”

Ultimately, people have many reasons for not wanting to drink, be it health or religious motivations. Whatever the case may be, the desire for good non-alcoholic options is there, and we expect to see this space continue to thrive. Write to anurag.banerjee@quilt.ai to chat about what we do.

Originally published at https://www.quilt.ai on May 17, 2022.



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