If you haven’t heard the latest phrase or craze hitting the restaurant industry, take note. Mocktails, or alcohol-free drinks, have been making their way into the restaurant scene for a few years and are growing in popularity.
Some in the business go so far as to say it’s one of the biggest opportunities in the industry.
For those of you who are concerned about your profit margins, don’t be. Mocktails, or non-alcoholic drinks with a flair, can be very profitable. Guests that prefer non-alcoholic beverages are willing to pay more, appreciating the unique flavors and offerings. A crisp house-made basil soda out-trumps a standard soda any day.
The Non-alcoholic Drinks of Today
These drinks aren’t designed with a young child’s sweet-tooth in mind like good ol’ Roy Rogers. Today’s drinks combine fresh herbs, savories and salt to create unexpected flavors. Like a fine wine, they are designed to pair with certain menu items. A naturally carbonated drink infused with ginger, jasmine and white peach might pair well with your salmon rice bowl with apple-lime sauce.
This also gives your staff additional selling points when making recommendations. When a guest requests an iced tea or coke, train your servers to respond with a similar, yet unique, house-made non-alcoholic beverage.
Catering to Special Occasions
There are those people that enjoy a cocktail every now and then but, for various reasons, are currently in abstaining mode. This could be the guest who is pregnant or nursing, on medication that does not mix with alcohol, designated drivers, dieters, and those on a cleanse and taking a break from alcohol. All will appreciate your customer care and consideration as you cater to their needs. If you impress them with your non-alcoholic beverages, chances are they will be returning guests at a later date to experience your adult-only beverages.
Sunday in Brooklyn, New York offers a non-alcoholic version of their Golden Coconut cocktail called Coco Squash. It’s a drink made with Seedlip—a non-alcoholic spirit distilled like liquor in spiced or botanical flavors—which first came on the scene in London in 2015. Its recipe, which can be found in the New York Times, consists of 2 ounces of Seedlip Spice, 1 ounce of butternut squash juice, ¾ ounce of coconut crème, ¾ ounce of fresh orange juice, and ¼ ounce of fresh lime juice combined and poured over ice.
Providence, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Los Angeles, claims their non-alcoholic beverages are just about as popular as their alcoholic versions.
For some restaurateurs, it’s a matter of conscience. Considering the statistics released by the U.S. Department of Transportation in which 10,496 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2016 (or 1 alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 50 minutes), some owners feel that it is their responsibility to offer their guests non-alcoholic beverages that are tasty and can compete with their alcoholic counterparts.
A Matter of Choice
Your potential customers have a multitude of choices when it comes to dining. Those that are opting to be teetotalers, on the other hand, lament the few interesting and often uninspired drink options available to them.
CBC News reported on Montreal’s Atwater Cocktail Club and Kate Boushel, a bartender, who said, “Customers come in asking for drinks containing no alcohol every night.” One of the drinks she touts is an apple juice-based concoction with carrot, thyme syrup and a touch of house tonic. It’s a light, refreshing drink that she feels is more complex than a virgin mojito.
Giving your guests quality choices and catering to their needs goes a long way in creating lifelong, brand-loyal customers. Start with a few home-made mocktails. You may be surprised at just how many of these non-alcoholic drinks your staff ends up selling.