Calling time on the mocktail. A maturing no and low market and heightened consumer demand for quality, crafted non-alcoholic spirits can finally sink the mocktail.
Words courtesy of Danny Shell, Lyre’s Brand Ambassador.
Mocktail. The word makes me shudder. My mind is immediately drawn to a brightly-coloured, sickly-sweet, thrown-together drink in a 15oz Catalina glass. An image from the 90s. A concoction of juices, usually with the addition of Grenadine and possibly lemonade. A Tequila Sunrise-esque monstrosity. A real witches brew.
I can’t hide my disdain for the word or what it traditionally represents. Child-like drinks made with juices, sodas and syrups, commonly seen at kids parties.
I’ve been a bartender since my coming of age – I couldn’t wait to get behind the wood – and have travelled all over the world honing and mastering my craft.
I’m a moderate drinker – have been since the turn of the century – and I regularly found myself dumbfounded by the lack of options both when out with friends and behind the bar serving consumers.
Multi-coloured fruit punch? Coke or water? So far, so dull.
Change is coming
Thankfully, the world is changing. A perfect storm of heightened consumer health awareness, changing social behaviours, and exciting, innovative and delicious new products is creating a booming no and low market.
Now those who identify as teetotal, cutting down or simply moderating have a plethora of options to try at home and in venues.
Let’s rewind a couple of years. If you’d asked anyone about no and low they’d have thought you were inviting them to a limbo challenge. Non-alcoholic botanical spirits, lagers, gins, they all started appearing, but most efforts lacked subtle, delicate flavours that sashayed around the palette. We’d give them an A for effort but a D for quality.
These brands laid the groundwork for a flourishing and innovative non-alcoholic market; the market that we see today. No and low is experiencing incredible growth, with major spirit companies snapping up the early creators and more independents coming to the fore. Consumers and bartenders like myself are delighted.
There are no excuses anymore for serving substandard, multi-colured monstrosities. The modern bartender has never had it so good when it comes to proper adult non-alcoholic products. Brands like Lyre’s, Three Spirit or Caleno are producing impossibly crafted, complex and delicious liquids that are rendering the term mocktail obsolete.
Can you spot the difference? A mocktail is a sickly sweet, brightly coloured tumbler of trouble while a non-alcoholic cocktail uses a non-alcoholic spirit base that is expertly crafted and prepared by an accomplished bartender.
A growing market
There are 9m+ moderate drinkers in the UK. This is the fastest-growing market within the trade and as consumer tastes change, bars and restaurants adapt to cater for the demand. World-class cocktail bars like The Connaught Bar have a thriving no and low menu, Jason Atherton’s Blind Pig has been serving expertly-crafted Lyre’s cocktails to compliment his Michelin star food and dedicated no booze venues are appearing all over the world with The Virgin Mary in Dublin and Listen Bar in New York.
Non-alcoholic cocktails are not mocktails. They are hand-crafted by experts and deliver on taste, flavour, aroma and presentation. They are drinks that the on-trade, off-trade and consumers are proudly raising a glass to.
Why don’t you try and create your own delicious non-alcoholic cocktails at home. For inspiration and recipes, visit lyres.co.uk.
A refreshing take on the Cosmopolitan
What you’ll need:
- 35ml Lyre’s White Cane Spirit
- 35ml Lyre’s Orange Sec
- 15ml Lime juice
- 25ml Cranberry Juice
Firstly, pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker or any sealable container. Secondly, top your shaker with ice, close and shake hard for a few seconds, until your shaker gets cold. Finally, strain into a chilled glass, keeping your ice in the shaker.
For a lovely, zesty finish, peel a strip of orange about 2 inches long (it’s easy with a potato peeler), cut away the pith from inside with the side of a sharp knife. Then hold it sideways over the glass and gently squeeze the peel between finger and thumb to release the oil from the skin onto the top of your drink.
Sip, smile, enjoy.
Meanwhile, why not take a look at more of our drinks features here.