Given the last two years I think we’ve all given up making too many predictions. But some trends look set to continue, and a significant one is drinking no or less alcohol. Noughty founder Amanda Thomson, a lifelong fan of plant-based diets and proponent of considered and careful consumption in all things (“Just make them delicious!”), gives us her perspective on the year ahead.
Q Which part of the world will grow its no-alcohol offering the most this year?
My smart money is on the US and Australia – certainly when it comes to Noughty. They’ve both been countries that have been fast to adopt and we have fantastic partners in both countries and a number of industry cheerleaders which cannot be underestimated.
Q Alcohol-free bars are having a moment. Do you think they’ll become mainstream, or will regular bars just up their dry game?
I’m not ducking the question when I say both. Almost all bars are recognising that there is money to be made from quality alcohol-free options and once that understanding is clear, the smart ones are fast amending their lists to reflect. The Limewood Hotel and The Pig Group in the UK have been trailblazers here, listing Noughty both by the glass and in non-alcoholic cocktails as well as an afternoon tea alternative to Champagne. On the other side of the pond, drinks expert Derek Brown’s The Columbia Room in Washington DC has pushed Alcohol-Free cocktails with a Noughty one even featuring on mainstream American TV news!
Q Are there any cocktail trends you can alert us to? We’re thinking seltzers with added ingredients like milk thistle and unusual flavours that help us recall holidays in far-flung places
Good mixologists love to develop exciting and innovative non-alcoholic cocktails in the same way they do traditional alcoholic ones. The smart money is on Alcohol-Free versions of classics. That way you can have a simple cocktail list that has Champagne cocktails and then alongside their non-alcoholic counterparts. And interestingly, consumer research has shown that people are willing to pay a similar amount for their alcohol-free cocktails as long as the same care and attention has gone into making them with quality ingredients.
Q Making no-alcohol wine is a complex process. Are there any technical advances that are making the process easier?
I don’t think “easy” is relevant here as it remains tough to make good alcohol-free wine but it’s safe to say there are always ways to improve and innovate.
Q Celebrity wines/tequilas/beers. Yes, or do you think consumers aren’t really that interested in drinking Gary Barlow?
I think it depends on the consumer. We have always treated all our our customers – famous or not – as equally special.
Q It was difficult to keep everything on the move last year because of a Suez jam, Brexit and Covid. Will logistics get easier this year?
Q What’s your biggest wish for 2022?
That we will all recognise globally that quality alcohol-free from brands who put sustainability at their heart can be a part of our lifestyle that makes us feel better about ourselves than turning to the alcohol will.