With the ever increasing war on sugar, teetotalism on the up and with more than one in five young adults abstaining from alcohol, the very best in the business are adapting their appreciation for the creative and distilling, blending, stirring and mixing up some seriously epic creations to supply demand from the more conscious drinker. Thankfully, like so many other movements in the bar world, much inspiration is taken from our chef compatriots.
Fifteen years ago you would be hard pushed to find a decent vegetarian dish on an à la carte menu, leaving anyone who didn't want to eat something that had been killed having to ask the waiter for the veggie option.
It was a similar scenario in bars and pubs not so long ago – only a few years, in fact. If you were abstaining from alcohol for health, religious or just personal reasons, you were left to choose between a very limited offering of what looked like an afterthought, often found at the end or at the back of a cocktail menu.
These sad excuses for creative expressions were often simply misrepresented as fruity ‘mocktails’ with the alcohol replaced by a juice, tropical purées, tea syrups or cordials, mixed with a citrus and often lengthened with a form of soda. The most creative of these looked like more thought had gone into the garnish than the ingredients sat below.
Like the culinary world, the bar movement has matured and realised terms like 'craft' and 'innovative' apply to a trade that embodies all that it is to be a professional, and inject the same care, attentive thought and energy that we now see in so many great vegetarian dishes.
In just the last few years, we’ve started to see more and more great non-alcoholic serves appear on cocktail lists – some bars dedicating space to an entire section of sophisticated ‘mature mocktails’, made up of superior ingredients and employing techniques usually reserved for their alcoholic siblings.
I myself released a limited menu at the beginning of this year, entitled ‘Anti-resolution vs As Good As It Gets’. A complete list, highlighting two sides of the same coin. Whilst the ‘Anti-resolution’ section speaks for its self, ‘As Good as it Gets’ was a selection of temperance-style drinks, showcasing all that cocktails should be. The result? Two of the non-alcoholic cocktails were among the biggest sellers that month, showing that the appreciation for this style of cocktail is growing every day.