Ritual Tequila Festival
More than a Ritual
The new Market of Adult Drinks is growing even as more people turn away from alcohol
For decades we’ve kept children away from alcoholic beverages because of the effect of alcohol on the developing child. Having done this, we created an interesting “Adult Drink” category. Today however, young adults are choosing to step away from alcohol even though they are fully developed adults. They have looked around and seen that drinking alcohol continues to hinder growth, clarity, and mindfulness even as an adult. This is no secret, we are seeing books published left and right that speak of the problems of alcohol, Sober Curious, , and Alcohol Is Shit just to name a few. This presents an interesting gap where we previously saw “Adult Drinks.”
Going to a bar today and hearing someone order a nonalcoholic beverage is increasingly common. What they are getting however is anything but common. It used to be that your only options were sugary sodas or juices, both notched a tad higher in sugar due to their primary use being in mixers. Today however, the Adult beverage category has been exploding with options. And “options” is the key word here. As an ArKay Beverages representative stated in response to someone on Social Media “[we] know that ArKay is not a solution, only an option for those it suits.” These new elixirs, mixers, and alcohol substitutes are not coming after alcohol, nor are they trying to save the world from alcoholism, what they are doing is presenting a new option. With options comes opportunities for people to choose differently.
When I interviewed Emily Lynn Paulson, author of “Highlight Real,” for my Recover Yourself podcast, she stated that “[when we drink in front of our children] we are teaching them that drinking is a requirement.” She is setting the stage for a new generation, and her strength to turn on the culture in which she was cemented within for years, is not small feat.
This new generation of people turning away from alcohol is asking for a new definition of what an “adult drink” can be. As someone with 19 years in recovery I welcome the new conversation and I am interested in seeing where the adult drink category can go. I recall the heat and the full olfactory sensation that alcohol would provide me when I drank it. When balanced well, I recall having drinks that were complex and excited different parts of my mouth. As an adult I enjoy earthy flavors, fullness, and complexities. Is this something we can enjoy without the alcohol?
Ten years ago Kevin Purdy wrote a post titled “What Alcohol Does to Your Brain and Body” in it he stated “Your body sees alcohol as a poison.” One year after that article came out the first alcohol substitute hit the market and was widely met with resistance and ridicule, that product was ArKay. They are still at it today producing by far the best alcohol substitute on the market with the widest selection of any other line.
Today bars and restaurants have an increasing number of options to choose from when it comes to nonalcoholic adult beverages. These options are finally being taken seriously having had 50 different bars feature a nonalcoholic mixed drink during the past Paris Cocktail Week. Pernod Ricard, the renowned and distinguished alcohol dealer is now touching base in the nonalcoholic world with Cedar’s and Celtic Soul alternatives to Gin and Brown Spirits respectively. With so many Gin substitutes on the market I feel like we should just tackle it now. Ritual Gin, ArKay Gin, GinFree by Aldi, Nona June, Borrago, Surendran & Bownes Edition Zero: Labdanum, No ghost in a Bottle, Ginsin, Seedlip, Caleno, Stryyk Not Gin, Ginish, Herbie Virgin, Brunswick Aces are all Gin alternatives and they each approach it slightly differently. If you are a fan of Gin and it seems like the market assumes you are, you’re going to have a great night exploring these varieties. Teetotal G&T, Saint G&T, and The Duchess G&T are all bottled Gin and Tonic if you didn’t want to mix it yourself. Teetotal also make a Cuba Libre, with is a Dark Rum and Cola. Moving onto Rum Stryyk Not Rum, Rumish, ArKay Rum, and Rosin are your Rum alternatives. When it comes to Whiskey, we have the 15 different variety produced by ArKay, and then Ritual Whiskey and Whissin which is a Spanish nonalcoholic whisky Produced by Espafador, and like all of these products Whissin is suggested to be used as a mixer.
I brushed over Seedlip but I am returning to it now. Diageo’s “Drink to the Future” nonalcoholic flagship, Seedlip, (which nobody is a stranger to today I am sure) is doing things a bit differently in this area. They are a distillate product, which many are, but they step away from trying to mimic Gin, even though I put them in that category, they are creating something altogether different.
Some alternate brands like Kin are adding adaptogens and going for a healthy and conscious buzz with their line of adult beverages. ArKay uses an extract from capsaicin which causes a euphoric feeling and can be described as a bit of a head buzz as well. There are many elixirs that are just making a market for themselves without the need to lean on the history of alcohol. Mind your Manna’s Fire Brew considers themselves a wellness tonic and is seen as an additive to your beverage choices, like all the other options I address in this article.
So we have an open market of companies trying to give people something to sip while connecting. This is where the Dry Bar will come into play. There are a lot of great financial reasons why a Dry Bar is a smart bet, but it seems like the market is more than ready. After talking with some of these nonalcoholic producers it seems like they are being approached by more and more individuals looking to open totally dry bars. Sans Bar in Austin TX is one of the first to gain real notoriety and are in the process of touring the country bringing these and other brands into the awareness of everyone. I have to say Chris Marshall of Sana Bar turned me onto ArKay and the rest is history.