Top 7 Things I Learned About Mocktails


I participated in Drink Less Fest, an event put on by The Roaring Social and Charlotte Beverage Distribution, both organizations founded by Casey Dolan. 


Drink Less Fest combined non-alcoholic beverage brands with folks in hospitality and sober and sober curious locals. The afternoon was a transformative experience of holistic wellness and workshops. There was NA cocktail making with Ritual Zero Proof spirits and Mocksie craft mocktails from Wilmington. Food and wine pairing by winemaker, Rachel Martin of Oceano Zero, a premium alcohol removed wine, and a tasting tour by Laura Silverman of Zero Proof Nation. Dr. Brooke Scheller gave a nutritional workshop, and as founder of Ditched the Drink, I gave a presentation on Recovery-Friendly Workplaces.


The day concluded with a thought-provoking panel discussion, facilitated by me, an award winning sober coach and founder of  "Ditched the Drink" accompanied by Dr. Brooke Scheller author of, "How to Eat to Change How You Drink", Laura Silverman, founder of Zero Proof Nation, MIcah Sampson alcohol-free advocate and partner of Noughty Wines, and finally Casey Dolan, CEO/founder of The Roaring Social and Charlotte Beverage Distribution. The discussion focused on the non-alcoholic community, past, present and future.


Many key concepts came out of our engaging discussion.

Here are the top seven takeaways:. 

  • Be Proud and Out-loud

Being sober is a superpower, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. We don’t need to shy away from ordering alcohol-free drinks or whisper to the waitstaff on the side. Let the table and the staff know you want an alcohol-free drink. There’s nothing to hide! Your voice might inspire someone else. 


  • You are Not Alone

One-third of the US population doesn’t drink for a variety of reasons. This could include religion, health, cultural taboo, stages of parenthood, recovery and more. You are likely not the only one who is not drinking. In fact, many people feel pressured to drink when they don’t want to when they are networking or socializing. It may feel like everyone around you is imbibing, but that’s not necessarily true.


  • Bartenders Need to Be Trained

First impressions matter when it comes to drinks. Perhaps you’ve been served an overly sweet mocktail or a combination of juices that just didn’t work. For establishments to have a successful and profitable non-alcoholic menu, bartenders need to be trained on how to prepare sophisticated and delicious drinks. As a consumer, I can tell you, I appreciate a thoughtfully crafted drink in an appropriate glass, with a pretty garnish, and a name that doesn’t make me feel like a child when ordering. Shake it up, put it on ice, and use an alcohol-free spirit. Please put all the care into my drink as you would with alcohol. It makes a difference and I am willing to pay for it. 


  • Put Non-Alcoholic Drinks on the Menu

 We can’t order it if we don’t know it's there. In fact, if I see it on the menu, I am more likely to visit. I always say vegans decide where a group eats and sober people decide where a group drinks. Even my drinking friends are looking at the menu for alcohol-free options for me. Not only are you getting my business, you're also getting the business of my 12 friends who drink alcohol. It’s a smart business move to have a full zero proof menu. This is not coffee, soda, juice, or lemonade. Have alcohol-free beer, wine, and spirits and advertise them. 


  • Support your Local Bottle Shops

 If you can purchase from a local bottle shop, do it! These places are safe places for sober curious people and people in recovery. They do so much more than sell drinks. They act as a community builder. If you support the alcohol-free movement, one of the best things you can do is promote, visit, and purchase from your local bottle shop. For a list, visit Zero Proof Nation.


  • Opt into Alcohol, Not Out

I loved this idea! Why not make all drinks alcohol-free? You can add alcohol as you wish with an upcharge. Make not drinking alcohol the norm and the standard. We weren’t born drinking alcohol, and not drinking is the most normal thing in the world. It’s the most natural state of being. Our society has gotten so obsessed with alcohol we assume everyone wants it and drinks it, but that’s not true. Right after this event, I traveled to another event and stayed at a Hyatt hotel. I was thrilled to see their drink list had the first three cocktail options as drinks without alcohol, and alcohol could be added as an upcharge. This is the way to do it. Great flavors don’t need alcohol. Even drinkers want drinks without alcohol at times.


  • Call it Whatever You Want

There’s been controversy online about what to call these drinks. I was surprised to hear the entire panel agree, Call it whatever you want, just get it on the menu. Mocktails, zero proof, non-alc, or spirit free. It doesn’t matter what you call them, we are just happy to see the options.

The sober momentum is building and people are craving experiences that don’t include alcohol. In fact, there are now federal credits given for recovery-friendly workplaces that include advertising mocktail options at corporate events. If your establishment or event doesn’t include non-alcoholic options, you’ll be missing out on business and leaving revenue on the table.


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