Alcohol free drinks

Jessica Pook

As consumers become more health-conscious inflight, non-alcoholic beverages are having their moment, and alcohol-free doesn’t have to mean bland, says Jessica Pook

Attitudes towards alcohol are changing. As the free-from movement extends into the drinks sector, consumers are increasingly seeking out healthier products and making positive lifestyle choices by rethinking their alcohol habits.

Some cultures have banished the booze for religious reasons, others are going alcohol-free as a lifestyle or health and wellbeing choice.

Research by The International Wines and Spirits Record shows that 52% of surveyed consumers in the U.S. are trying to reduce their alcohol intake, and a recent survey by The Independent newspaper showed 25% of people under 24 in the UK now class themselves as ‘non-drinkers’, a trend being further championed by wellness companies.

Airlines are also rethinking their relationship with alcohol as the effects can sometimes negatively affect passengers inflight – leaving passengers feeling groggy and dehydrated, and prolonging the effects of jetlag. Excessive alcohol consumption in the air can also of course lead to disruptive behaviour inflight.

In meeting these changing demands, it is important to remember non-alcohol drinkers still want to be able to raise a glass in celebration and still look for a beverage which helps make a journey memorable. Offering a grown-up drink full of flavour and sophistication means they do not have to succumb to a sugary juice or fizzy drinks.

Alcohol-free wine producer Eisberg has rebranded to widen its appeal to this new, younger audience, with a focus on its 0.0% alcohol credentials and its winemaker origins which ensure drinkers can enjoy favourites like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Rose without compromising on taste.

“Around one in five adults in the UK are now teetotal — about 8% more than 10 years ago,” says Andrew Turner, director of wine at Halewood Wines & Spirits. “This trend isn’t set to die out anytime soon; younger generations have a more moderate approach to drinking. As long as brands like Eisberg can continue to provide premium, interesting and most importantly, tasty, low- and no-alcohol alternatives then it’s a category that will keep on growing.”

He adds: “Our wines are made in exactly the same way as all high-quality wines, with the alcohol removed at the very end of the process. They are also low in calories, with less than 33 calories per glass.”

Marketed as the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, Seedlip’s range is calorie-free, alcohol-free and made without artificial flavours and colours. Within the bottles, which are undeniably pretty and elegant, are blends of
herbs and botanicals as well as spices and citrus peels, designed to be enjoyed with tonic as a gin would be and dressed up with fruit garnish.

Its Spice 94 is made using cardamom, Jamaican all-spice berries, citrus peel, American oak and casacarilla bark, Garden 108 is a combination of English peas, spearmint, rosemary, thyme, hops and hay, while the latest addition, Grove 42 is a blend of oranges, lemon peel, ginger and lemongrass.

While it’s no secret that prosecco continues to dominate the sparkling shelves, suppliers have been quick off the mark to produce an alcohol-free alternative that doesn’t resemble fizzy grape juice. Scavi & Ray has been described as a “convincing prosecco alternative with proper fizz” and similarly Nosecco has all the characteristics of a bottle of prosecco without the alcohol and calories.

Turner says: “Feeling included remains a key driver in consumer behaviour. People choosing not to drink alcohol do not want to feel alienated on social occasions or restricted on choice, so they should be presented with clear alternatives.”

Giving alcohol-free a sophisticated edge, Aecorn Aperitifs has created a range of 0% before-dinner drinks made from English-grown Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay grapes. The grapes are pressed early and blended with herbs, roots and, as the name suggests, acorns. The recipe is traditionally used as an appetite stimulant and to aid digestion. Available in the range is Dry, described as floral and crisp, Bitter with complex and citrus notes and Aromatic which offers rich and smoky tones.

Packing a real punch in the non-alcohol arena is Three Spirit, featuring no less than 11 plant-based ingredients from around the world. It offers a
taste of the exotic with hints of lion’s mane mushroom, damiana leaf and yerba mate tea to create a “synergistic experience”, according to
its producers.

An alcohol-free dark spirit is a rarer offering but last year came the launch of Celtic Soul to fill this gap. The distilled dark spirit is said to have a flavour of sweet vanilla, spices and oak, all packed in a stylish bottle.