Consumers are increasingly becoming aware of everything they are putting into their bodies, and this has seen a global shift across food and drinks towards ‘better-for-you’ products.

In the drinks industry this has particularly seen a rise in the popularity of no-and-low alcoholic drinks, with drinking culture moving towards greater moderation and lower levels of alcohol consumption.

Late last year global drinks market analysis company, IWSR, released its Global Trends Report which examines developments and identifies opportunities in global drinks markets. That report stated: “The rise in consumer interest in wellness has fuelled development of no- and low-alcohol products, and ‘better-for-you’ beverages that are low-calorie, sugar-free, gluten-free, and that feature natural nutrients and healthy ingredients.”

Those aspects of low-calorie and sugar-free, are important; consumer tastes and knowledge are increasing and so the days of the non-alcoholic cocktail options being high fruit, high sugar drinks are gone.

Indeed the annual Culinary and Cocktail Trends Forecast from the InterContinental Hotels Group, which revealed the cocktail trends to watch in 2020, specifically called out the increasing sophistication that will come in the no-and-low cocktails area.

Of the bartenders surveyed in the research, 42 per cent said they were excited to embrace no-alcohol culture as part of their overall bar approach in 2020.

InterContinental Sydney’s Cortile Lounge Bar Manager, Max Babajev, created a zero-alcohol cocktail menu that focused on craftsmanship and flavour rather than alcohol content.

“Building balance in a cocktail without alcohol allows creative thinking and a deeper understanding of each ingredient,” Babajev said.

“The culture of overconsumption is changing, and innovative bars and restaurants are beginning to adapt. The modern diner is more educated than ever in their decisions. We are moving away from mass production and focusing on fine produce and skill, which is a positive change for all.”

Low ABV offerings are growing in sophistication and are now seen as additions to the bar rather than a replacement to full strength cocktails. This trend goes hand-in-hand with the increased interest in naturally low ABV fortified wines, amaros, sherries and vermouths. Consumers are demanding flavourful alternatives to continue socialising and to still get that ‘buzz’ without getting drunk.

With its Angostura bitters and lower alcohol options like Amaro di Angostura, House of Angostura is really helping to fuel this trend and in particular the desire for sophistication.

Tanya Mah, Angostura’s Australian Brand Manager, says, “Consumers are taking greater personal responsibility and proactively improving their health and wellbeing. Drinking culture is shifting towards greater moderation and lower levels of alcohol consumption with more consumers wanting options that are ‘better for you’.

“While wine and spirits brands can never claim to be healthy, we believe we have a responsibility to adjust to be more consistent with consumers’ desire for healthier and balanced lifestyles.

“Angostura has been playing in the non-alcoholic space for decades. Angostura bitters was built on the back of the LLB, Australia’s most loved and recognised non-alcoholic serve. Consumers are looking for sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks when they are out and we are putting a lot of emphasis on providing non-alcoholic mixed serves for when people are not drinking.”

Angostura Bitters is an essential ingredient for contemporary cocktails and bars can even put a healthier spin on the Australian classic, and favourite, lemon, lime and bitters. Simply swap out the lemonade for soda water and the lime cordial for fresh lime and you have a healthier, lower sugar drink.

When drinkers get that ‘I would love a glass of wine right now but don’t want to drink’ moment, they can ask for a soda, Angostura bitters and fresh lime.

House of Angostura Brand Ambassador Rohan Massie says bartenders need to make sure they are offering a strong experience for everyone in their bar, including those choosing to moderate or not drink at all.

“People no longer want cocktails based on alcohol percentage,” Massie said. “Our guests are after flavour not necessarily booze. So we love to use lower alcohol spirits like Amaro di Angostura and Vermouth.

“More and more people aren’t drinking during social occasions, predominantly by choice or because they are driving, and we as bartenders need to reframe our thinking to cater for these drinkers too. Why should they have a rubbish drinking experience just because they are not drinking alcohol?

“Gone are the days of fruit heavy mocktails. At Rude Boy, we have a range of house sodas that you can have with or without a splash of alcohol. It’s about offering your customers a choice and we find it works well.”

Cocktail bars all over the world are responding to the no-and-low trend and still giving the bartenders the opportunity to show their skill and craft in creating great flavourful drinks that are ‘better for you’. As much emphasis now is going on these drinks, so make sure that you are not missing out by leaving no-and-low drinks as some kind of afterthought on the menu.

Contact your local House of Angostura representative at Proximo Australia to see what you can do and what low alcohol drinks are available for you to work with.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.