Why soft drinks are growing in popularity

The world of beverages is undergoing a non-alcoholic revolution. After gaining momentum over the past two years, interest in and consumption of non-alcoholic beverages continues to increase.

Whatever the reason, whether driven by a desire to lead a healthier lifestyle, informed by the situation, or inspired by a taste for high quality soft drinks, there is no doubt the movement is on the rise.

In its 2021 Cocktail Trends Report, Bacardi identified the soft drinks division as one of the fastest growing in the market, stating: “Overall 0% ABV spirits have garnered more interest than any other category. of spirits for the second year in a row. Bartenders believe the pandemic has accelerated the trend, with consumers more open to trying 0% options as their usual routines are upended … and new goals are set. “

Waitrose has also drawn attention to the soft drink sector in its Food and Beverage Report 2021, noting that searches for non-alcoholic drinks continue to increase 22% year over year.

The ripple effect of consumers opting for non-alcoholic drinks has meant that a whole new segment of high-quality, complex-tasting soft drinks aimed at adult palates has gained attention.

This can be demonstrated in the United Arab Emirates, with supermarkets offering an increasingly diverse selection of zero-proof spirits, tonics and craft mixers, as well as non-alcoholic ciders and beers that were not. on the shelves even 12 months ago.

As a non-drinker consumer, you were simply not supported in the UAE three years ago

Erika Blazeviciute Doyle, Founder, Drink Dry Store

Erika Blazeviciute Doyle, Founder and Managing Director of Drink Dry, the region’s premier premium online non-alcoholic drink store, is leading the region’s non-alcoholic beverage movement.

Blazeviciute Doyle moved from the UK to Dubai three years ago and was surprised at the lack of high quality soft drinks on offer. “There was nothing in the stores exciting,” she says. “As a non-drinking consumer, you just weren’t taken care of. “

Motivated by the belief that if the right non-alcoholic drinks – think premium, tasty, healthy and low in sugar – were available, there would be a real thirst for them in the region, she launched the Drink Dry store last December. .

The e-commerce platform went live stocking just five alcohol-free products (one beer, one sparkling wine, and three distilled spirits) and with very little marketing or PR.

By the end of the month, Choithrams had applied to sell the products in its stores, and online orders were skyrocketing.

“In January alone, we had to start sending non-alcoholic sparkling wine by plane into the country because we were completely exhausted. People were so excited to get their hands on something that tasted good, ”says Blazeviciute Doyle. She says the repetition of the custom is high.

The range of drinks has grown considerably over the past 10 months and now includes a range of non-alcoholic lagers and ales, still and sparkling wines, pre-mixed cocktails, spirits, accompanying tonics, mixers and more.

The company plans to expand to Kuwait by the year, is in talks for a launch in Saudi Arabia, and is a supplier to Hilton and Rotana among other hotels in the United Arab Emirates, as well as licensed restaurants and independent cafes.

This in itself is a crucial point; it’s not just at home that people are looking for alcohol-free options. Raven Rudolph, mixologist and former bar manager at Dubai’s Folly Restaurant, says that while he’s always been interested in infusing similar flavors into non-alcoholic drinks, he and his peers have started to really notice the non-alcoholic trend a couple years ago.

“At first I was very skeptical about non-alcoholic spirits – as I think a lot in my industry were – and some of the early versions I tried just weren’t up to the mark in terms of flavor and specifications without alcohol. “

Rudolph, who is currently deputy director of food and beverage for the luxury resort of Hilton Mango House Seychelles, believes the pandemic has had a major impact on the way people drink, and says there has been a clear change in attitude with consumers, suppliers and industry insiders becoming more and more serious about the alcohol-free segment of the market.

Several restaurants and bars in the UAE have noted this change in attitude and have increased the strength and diversity of their soft drink menus accordingly.

Modern European hotspot Boca in Dubai’s international financial hub was one of the first to introduce non-alcoholic beers and wines in April 2020.

“Consumers were increasingly looking for a premium, non-alcoholic product to savor,” says Ricardo Riera Valentine, co-founder and senior director of operations and beverage for the restaurant.

“We were the first outlet in the country to partner with Heineken and offer their 0.0% beer, which is also natural, sustainable and vegan, on our business lunch menu. This has created a real craze around the drink among our regulars, many of whom now enjoy it on a daily basis.

In addition to beer, Boca also offers de-alcoholized red, white and rosé wines from the Spanish grape producers Torres and a Chardonnay Blanc des Blanc Mousseux at 0.0%.

Valentine predicts that this line will continue to expand in the near future and that the non-alcoholic wine sector will benefit from a major improvement in quality when glasses designed specifically to enhance the flavor of beverages appear on the market.

Vasile Dorofeev, director of beverages at Roberto’s Italian restaurant, shares a similar point of view and says that after noticing a global and regional shift towards a healthier lifestyle in the beverage industry, the company reacted quickly.

“We stock non-alcoholic beer, sparkling wine and zero-proof botanical spirits. We are also looking for zero-proof still wines that can satisfy the palates of our customers, and would like to expand our range of non-alcoholic beers with unique craft beers, ”he says.

Since the alcohol-free movement isn’t a flash-in-the-pan fad, read on for our guide to keywords and cool drinks to sample.

Non-alcoholic drinks to try in the UAE

Lemon sorbet at Roberto’s, DIFC

This craft drink made with zero-proof verbena distillate, lemon zest syrup and fresh cold-pressed pineapple juice is the perfect accompaniment to Roberto’s popular Lemon e Lemons dessert.

Petite Cherie at Angelina Paris, The Dubai Mall

Launched by the elegant Angelina tea room in collaboration with Goutal on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the perfume house, the Petite Cherie mocktail is inspired by the famous perfume of the same name. Work of the specialist Eugenie Blanche, who lives in Paris, the drink presents similarities in aromatic profile with the perfume, thanks to notes of rose and pear, with in addition the sweetness of a white chocolate syrup and a peppery finish. thanks to the green shiso leaves. Rose petals and a peach butterfly add a memorable finishing touch.

Friends Beer 0.0

Available on a number of restaurant and bar menus in the United Arab Emirates, as well as the Drink Dry store list, this Belgian lager is considered one of the best in the alcohol-free range for its refreshing and mellow taste. .

Blanc des Blancs 0.0% Sparkling Chardonnay

Another Drink Dry bestseller, this alcohol-free sparkling wine is famous for its crisp, dry finish and elegant flavor. A favorite in Boca, Valentine recommends pairing it with the restaurant’s Dibba Bay oyster dish.

Know the lingo

0.0% ABV: In the United Arab Emirates, the term “non-alcoholic” means exactly that: the drink contains 0.0% ABV (alcohol by volume). In other parts of the world it may differ, for example in much of Europe and the United States, drinks with up to 0.5% BAC may be labeled as non-alcoholic.

Shrub: A very refreshing fruit syrup (also known as drinkable vinegar), made from fruits or vegetables, vinegar and sugar and used to add a tangy and sour note to many soft drinks, from complex sober cocktails to simple sparkling waters.

Sober cocktail: Alcohol-free cocktails built on the DNA of a classic cocktail, but using zero-proof plants in spirits places.

Sober curious: Those who consciously drink less alcohol or no alcohol at all.

Zero-proof spirits: These distilled, filtered and blended botanicals with a refined taste are often made in the same way as a traditional spirit before going through an extraction process to remove the alcohol. Alternatively, some zero-proof spirits are simply made alcohol-free in the first place.

Water

Keeping things as simple as possible, sparkling mineral water is water that contains natural salts (minerals) and is infused with dissolved carbon dioxide, either naturally at the source or manually during production to give its signature. an effervescent quality.

Carbonated water (American club soda), meanwhile, is artificially carbonated water with small amounts of salts (potassium bicarbonate and potassium sulfate).

A seltzer is also artificially carbonated, but does not contain these added minerals.

With its distinctive bitter note, tonic water is an entirely different drink, made from soda and sweet water infused with quinine.

Update: September 30, 2021, 4:09 am

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