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Driving Home for Christmas

It’s a challenging time for the licensed trade. An increasing proportion of young adults avoid drinking alcohol altogether and drink-driving legislation means that at least one member of every car-borne party will be keeping ‘dry’.

And it’s unlikely things will get any easier in the future. Scotland has now adopted Europe’s lower blood/alcohol limits for drivers and there’s increasing pressure on people to lead a healthier lifestyle – which often means cutting back on alcohol, be that all year round, or during months such as ‘Dry January’ and ‘Stoptober’.

So how do you attract the custom of this teetotal audience during the festivities?

Going soft
Firstly, the good news. Recent times have seen major changes in the soft drink arena, with the introduction of new flavours and styles directly developed for more adult tastes. And the same is true of low and no alcohol drinks – brewers like AB Inbev now have nonalcoholic beers that 1-in-5 drinkers can’t tell from the real deal.

The trick to profitably and making the most of these offerings are:

Don’t be predictable or boring – customers demand more and are prepared to pay a premium if they feel they’re getting a premium drinking experience!

Presentation is key – serves should be prepared with the same care as a cocktail. So, in the correct glass and accompanied by sparkling ice, fresh fruit garnishes and swizzle sticks. “We know that 42% of consumers are more likely to order a soft drink if it’s presented attractively,” said Roxana parvizi, senior brand manager, Orangina. “So, for winter and autumn, serving a premium adult soft drink like Orangina or Orangina Light over ice with a cinnamon stick or a skewer of dark berries will ensure something special is added to the experience.”

Offer a varied choice – develop a range of offerings that complement simple serves. Alongside familiar favourites like Coca-Cola, Schweppes, Orangina, Appletize and Britvic’s J2O, use a mixture of ingredients to have your own house specials.

Menu suggestions

Mojito – Muddle six mint leaves in the bottom of a glass to extract the juices and flavour. Add apple juice, lime juice and elderflower cordial. Add crushed ice, stir and top up with soda water. Garnish with a sprig of mint. The country’s most popular cocktail, but alcohol free!

Soft Pornstar – Passion fruit purée mixed with orange juice and sugar. Garnish with more passion fruit and serve with a side of soda.

Labrador Sea Lemonade – Simply dip the rim of a glass in sea salt before filling with ice and lemonade. Looks and tastes great!

Strawberry Daiquiri – A blend of lime juice, sugar, strawberries and ice, served with a strawberry or orange slice garnish.

Shirley Temple – Add a splash of Grenadine to a glass of 7Up. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry and a swizzle stick. Let the customer stir the mix together.

Arnold Palmer – A mixture of iced tea and lemonade.

Gunner – a 50/50 mix of ginger beer and ginger ale, plus a splash of Angostura bitters and of lime cordial.

And if the Champagne corks are popping, keep everyone involved with:

Free from fizz – Cold white grape juice topped up with chilled ginger ale. Serve in a Champagne flute, decorated with a frozen raspberry – so the drinker doesn’t pick up the wrong glass!

Hot stuff!
‘Tis the season to spice up your drink offering – and just because there is zero alcohol, doesn’t mean it should be any different. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your hot serves and spices. Cordials and juices infused with spices such as cinnamon and clove make a delicious non-alcoholic alternative to a mulled wine or add them to hot apple juice as an alternative to mulled cider. Nutmeg and mint can be paired with citrus-based flavours, apple and dark berries to give them a kick, and a hot ginger beer paired with cinnamon becomes a mulled ginger beer.

Teetotal tipple
While low or no alcohol beers and ciders have suffered from a poor reputation in the past, in recent times, things have moved on. One of the world’s leading brewers has found that nearly a fifth of Brits are unable to taste the difference between today’s alcoholic and alcohol-free beers. This is probably because modern non-alcoholic beer is produced in exactly the same way at a traditional brew, before undergoing a gentle de-alcoholisation process to remove the alcohol from the beer, while keeping the same, great taste.

A number of suppliers have developed top tasting alternatives to their alcoholic ranges. Look for low and no-alcohol brews from Bitburger, Kopparberg, Super Bock, Brewdog, Budvar, Estrella and Sagres, among others.

And the same can be said of wine too. Indeed, there is no reason you cannot have a low/no alcohol option in virtually every category of your craft ale, cider and wine listings. It takes just a little effort, to tap into a huge and growing market.

Top tips
Make non-drinkers feel welcome! Develop a menu of non-alcoholic drinks and publicise it in-house, on your social media sites and website.

Combine a mix of well-established, popular brands with innovative and new products like non-alcoholic gin and tonic, so there is something for everyone, however adventurous they are feeling.

Include non-alcoholic drinks when making food and drink matching suggestions on your menu.

Make it special! For the one fifth of UK adults who now say they don’t drink alcohol, make sure their soft option is an indulgent choice. From eye-catching garnishes to attractive presentation, it will ensure something special is added to the occasion.

Promote any drink offers or new choices on your website, social media and via in-house POS material. The more customers know about it, the more sales you’ll make.

Remember, sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks aren’t just for Christmas. Keep developing your range – and tell the world about it.

Coca-Cola’s Designated Driver campaign
For the third year running, Coca-Cola’s Designated Driver campaign will be in operation this Christmas. The initiative encourages outlets to say thanks to all those customers who help friends and family get home this Christmas with a buy one, get one free offer on soft drinks. Talk to your Coca-Cola representative or Business Support Centre to get involved and use the free bar activation kit to let customers know that your establishment is taking part.

 

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