The thirst for non-alcoholic drinks

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The thirst for drinking without alcohol

Our correspondent visited “sobriety bars” in New York, a growing trend.

The fashion for non-alcoholic cocktails served in specialty bars is spreading in New York.

In New York, the “alcohol-free” trend is going to Beyond the challenges of Alcohol-Free January (“Dry January”) and 28 Days of Sobriety by opening 100% alcohol-free bars and hosting weekly events featuring premium merchandise. /p>

You may have completed the January Sober Challenge, or you may be trying to complete the 28 Days Sobriety Challenge. There is, however, a trend that seems to be lasting in the market. In New York, for example, it's arousing real interest, and not just for a few weeks.

On this Friday night, in a speakeasyfrom New York, customers begin to flock at 6 p.m. to participate in an evening organized in a nicely decorated place, where dance music resounds. Good humor is there, and for good reason: for only $40, drinks are unlimited. Here, the best concoctions are prepared by two cocktail creators with clever mixes that aim to imitate the great classics of cocktails served in so-called conventional bars.

Alcohol-free events are held in places that feel like a conventional bar.

Like every Friday evening, Elizabeth Gascoigne, founder of Absence of Proof, is the organizer of the event. I quit drinking about a year ago in January for health reasons. I just wanted my anxiety to improve. When I quit alcohol, I suddenly realized that there were very few social options. If you don't drink, you can go to a bar, maybe have a juicy mocktail, but nothing like the experience of a normal bar.

She therefore created these evenings to build public loyalty with these alcohol-free products. But who are his guests curious about discoveries? Pregnant women, people who are completely sober, and others who just like to try new and interesting things, but have no intention of cutting down on their alcohol intake.


Among these people: Deja, who came with her companion and who defines herself as a curious sober. Sometimes I drink, sometimes I don't, and I find it good to take a break from time to time, she says.

Upscale Sèchey store in New York City offers a range of non-alcoholic products.

Above this “speakeasy”, there is Sèchey, a shop that sells dozens and dozens of different drinks. The high-end store, where tastings and business events are organized, is above all a superb showcase for a variety of wines, spirits and ready-to-drink cocktails, all without an ounce of alcohol.

We only want to offer brands that truly align with our vision of a complete lifestyle change. We try to keep it natural, low in calories, with no added sugar and no added preservatives, says Veronica Grine, Director of Retail and Operations at Sèchey.

The range of non-alcoholic products has expanded significantly in recent years.

The store is a success, reflecting the trend of drinking less alcohol, according to its owner. I think COVID was kind of a wake-up call for a lot of people, when everyone was locked down and probably drinking way too much, because there was no set schedule or routine. . However, I think as we come out of COVID, many people's relationship with alcohol has changed.

Listen to Frédéric Arnould's report at l' show World Time

While 28-day-free challenges are popular enough, the “no-drink” trend is here to stay, according to Abby Ehmann, who officially opened her elixir bar last September in the East Village. She opened this bar, called Hekate, right across from her other bar — conventional, that one — where she served alcohol-dependent patrons.

Abby Ehmann has opened an alcohol-free bar in the East Village neighborhood of New York.

I felt like they drank too much, because they came to the bar all the time, because they liked the vibe and the community, and I x27;thought about people who don't drink and have no place to go, says Ehmann. In the evening, cafes usually close around 5 or 6 p.m., and you know, if you go to a restaurant, you have to buy food. So I wanted to give people who don't drink a place to go.

Among the customers this Friday night: Travis Rieter and Evelyn LaBelle, a newlywed couple who don't drink alcohol. For him, this elixir bar of this kind is a stroke of luck.

When we go to a bar, we can usually be served a non-alcoholic beer, explains Travis Rieter. And for Evelyn, it's cranberry juice with tonic or something, but you know, it gets boring. So we found this place and we were like, 'Let's go check it out.'

Mocktails are increasingly popular and elaborate.

Behind the bar, there's Sydney Easton, who prepares the cocktails, or rather what we call in English the mocktails(non-alcoholic cocktails). She learns how to make old-fashioned, negroni and other classics of the genre with different ingredients. There's a learning curve, she acknowledges, in mimicking the flavors and aromas of “real” cocktails. It gives a different style – as is that of the customers – compared to the concoctions of the bars where alcohol is served, in the eyes of one who has worked for 11 years in this kind of establishment. .

I can have conversations for hours. Many of these clients are sober, so it's always interesting to learn more about sobriety, Ms. Easton says. And then, you know, in regular bars you have the people who drink all night and get more and more boring as the night goes on, and I don't have that here.

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Sydney Easton, who has mostly worked in bars serving alcohol, enjoys more sober patrons at mocktail bar Hekate.

Abby Ehmann, the owner of Hekate, hopes that it will be imitated by other tenants. The next step, she says, would be to open sports bars, but without alcohol. In her case, she doubled her income between September and October, and the growth continues.

Elizabeth Gascoigne, who left everything to embark on this “alcohol-free” adventure , believes in it as hard as iron.

“I think it's not just a no-drink January or 28-day no-drink challenge thing: I'm x27; started this in August and we were already out of stock. So it's definitely here for good. I think people are becoming much more aware of their alcohol consumption.

— Elizabeth Gascoigne, Founder and CEO of Absence of Proof

The growth of the soft drink trend in the United States is reflected in certainly in the sales figures: between 2021 and 2022, total sales of soft drinks reached almost 400 million US dollars (536 million Canadian dollars), a growth of more than 20%. In short, a good sign for all those people who bet on it.

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