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Non-Alcoholic Spirits and Cocktails: Trends, Flavour, and Craft

Christopher Reyes

Trends like Sober Curiosity and Sustainable Mixology are popping up throughout the hospitality industry for the past few years. And recently as 2016, more and more non-alcoholic options such as beer, wine, and spirits have been hitting the market to meet the ever-growing demands coming from Millennials and Generation Z. Despite some criticism throughout the hospitality industry both from sellers and consumers, this trend is here to stay!

So, what to make of these new non-alcoholic spirits and the selling points that come with them.

It is not clear when the sober curiosity movement began. However, an indisputable fact is 30 per cent of Americans are adopting a more sober lifestyle. This is a result of better education and an urge for a more healthier lifestyle. Millennials and Generation Z also make smarter financial decisions for their future. The same trend seems to be popping up in the UK market as well. Drinking rates among British adults are at their lowest point for 18 years. At least one in five adults in the UK is trying to reduce their alcohol intake. And these people are putting their money where their mouths are! With sales in the non-alcoholic spirits category rise to a shocking 418%. Distribution and up-front sales with restaurants and alcohol brand.

Restaurants are following this trend as well, with 55% of restaurants in London providing these options. In Los Angeles, 40% are presenting non-alcoholic options that go beyond soft drinks and juices. The reasons behind this drastic change are contributed towards a more meaningful experience, curiosity towards the taste of a non-alcoholic spirit and cocktail, and mostly, avoiding the dreaded hangover the next day. Knowledge of the spirits is essential when creating a cocktail. That’s where non-alcoholic spirits like Seedlip and Ceder’s come in.

The selling point is the quality of the spirit.

During our interview with Maria Sehlstrom, Founder of Ceders Non-Alcoholic Gin; we found that switching to non-alcoholic options had more to it than just following a healthy lifestyle.

Throughout my pregnancy, options for non-alcoholic drinks were quite limited beyond soft drinks and juices. What influenced us as a couple to start our own distilled non-alcoholic spirit was the opportunity to provide other people like myself who would like to indulge in social settings without feeling left out due to constraint from alcohol.”

The couple also has a nature reserve based in Africa, where they have access to several intriguing botanicals like Rooibos and Buchu that they apply to their products.

The why has been established when it comes to non-alcoholic spirits, but it’s the ‘what’ to these products that should be highlighted more. The focus when it comes to the distillation of these spirits are the intriguing ingredients. The herbal components work exceptionally well when it comes to tonics. According to Maria, Fevertree tonic is best suited for a product like Ceders.” But we also recommend applying other tonics such as Schweppes and Fentimans to get the bittering components like cloves and cardamom in the forefront.

What makes a non-alcoholic cocktail? Occasion, Flavour, & Craft


In a report produced by CGA Data Lab, 55% of influential bartenders in New York, Los Angeles, and London believe that the no and low alcohol trend will grow over the next 12 months. It starts with the occasion for people to feel included. There have been several non-alcoholic cocktail bars such as Listen Bar popping up in the past few years. The focus is on developing cocktails that feature a particular taste along with the atmosphere surrounding it. Many restaurants have started creating a cocktail menu solely on non-alcoholic drinks. This comes as an effort to maximize the options to their guest. This signals that restaurants are aware of what customers are looking for! And they are providing them with different options to achieve the same experience as their colleagues.


An easy route to take when creating a cocktail with no ABV (Alcohol By Volume) is to combine it with a carbonated product like mineral water or tonic. But these spirits still provide an untapped opportunity for creating very wild cocktails that will be attractive to a consumer who is sober curious or not. For Ceder’s Classic, their best-selling product contains hints of geranium. Geranium carries fresh hints of ‘citrus’ as well as ‘clean’ ‘masculine’ ‘woody’ and even ‘fruity’ notes. I turned to The Flavor Bible to find a proper pairing for this particular flavour profile.

Drinks that stay loyal to familiar flavours and textures and use ingredients like hops, juniper, gentian, and other bitter roots are popular. For the majority of non-alcoholic spirits, most flavour components will include Gentian Root, Clove, Coriander, Blood Orange, and even Mint. It’s recommended that you learn about the flavour profile for each brand when creating a cocktail. This provides opportunities to increase the brand for the bar that you work for by giving your guest the best experience in your establishment.


Authenticity and philosophy behind each cocktail is a crucial selling point towards craft cocktails in any restaurant and bar. The herbal and citrus flavour is at the forefront in most of the non-alcoholic cocktail. Look towards adding modifiers like cocktail shrubs or cordials that pair well with the herbal and citrus profiles of non-alcoholic spirits.

As a restaurant and bar manager, it will help you better adapt your cocktail menu towards the cuisines your restaurant can provide.


Christopher Reyes