BC Bars adapted to meet the demand for high quality, alcohol free drinks IG News

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The growing demand for alcohol-free beverages is pushing BC Bars to up their mocktail game to provide better options to consumers.

“We’re getting to the point where any bar worth its salt will be taking non-alcoholic cocktails, beer, wine seriously,” said Vancouver sommelier Shiva Reddy.

Globally, the free wine market is set to exceed US$11 billion in 2022. In Western Canada, market share has grown to 20 percent, according to Mark Kuspira, owner of Canadian beverage distributor Crush Imports.

The growth is mostly driven by millennial and Gen Z consumers who are reducing their alcohol consumption for physical and mental health reasons.

This trend has been further bolstered by the release of Canada’s guidance on alcohol and health, which updates the 2011 low-risk drinking guidelines to suggest that no amount of alcohol is safe and that no more than two a week Excessive drinking is risky.

Reddy says this has forced an attitude shift in hospitality, from alcohol-free drinks to curating them with as much thought as alternatives to alcohol.

That’s exactly what one Victoria restaurant is doing.

Clayton Thornber, general manager of Wind Creasey Mary’s in Victoria, says the bar updated its alcohol-free cocktail list in late March to reflect the fact that a growing number of customers want more of mocktails than juices, sodas and syrups Was.

On a coaster is a green colored mocktail with orange blossom garnish.
‘We’re getting to the point where any bar worth its salt is going to be taking non-alcoholic cocktails, beer, wine seriously,’ said Shiva Reddy, Vancouver sommelier at Vancouver’s Burdock & Company restaurant. (© Hakan Bercuoglu for Burdock & Co.)

Wind Crease Mary’s offers 10 house cocktails, eight of which are available without alcohol. There is also a dedicated non-alcoholic cocktail menu composed of non-alcoholic spirits. And Thornber says the time and effort is paying off.

“We keep seeing the popularity grow and grow.”

And it’s not just the cocktail world that’s changing. The quality of wine has improved dramatically in the last two years, says Sarah Tezuco, co-owner of Vancouver-based nonalcoholic importer Sansorium.

She says her clients may want to cut back or completely quit drinking for their health, but after years of consuming wine and cocktails, they also want to maintain the social ritual of drinking with friends at the bar. are, and they expect the same taste and quality of alcohol-free beverages, forcing the industry to react.

Three women are sitting on picnic blankets in a field.  They are drinking from glasses of wine and smiling.
Sarah Tejuco runs Vancouver-based non-alcoholic importer Sansorium with her mother and sister. She says her clients want to moderate or quit alcohol altogether, but after years of consuming wine and cocktails, they also want to maintain the social ritual of drinking with friends. (Sarah Tezuko, Sensorium)

Kuspira compares the expansion of vegetarian and vegan menu options over the past decade.

He expanded his own business in 2021, starting a subsidiary called Soft Crush to supply alcohol-free wines and spirits to bars and resellers.

According to Kuspira, the next step is for the big players in the industry to join the alcohol-free market.

While wine and beer producers have quickly rolled out low-alcohol versions of popular products, big-brand spirits makers are still playing catch-up.

“I don’t think it’s a trend. It’s something that’s here to stay… I think we’re going to see a steady increase in options for everybody who goes to restaurants,” he said.