Mocktail Heaven with Wise Bartender. The rise of alcohol-free drinks
We caught up with Wise Bartender founder Tom Ward to chat about the rise in choice when it comes to drinking alcohol free and what makes a great non-alcoholic spirit!
As a country we are being bombarded with messages telling us to get healthier and quit the bad stuff! However, without careful planning and buckets of motivation it’s difficult to ignore the temptation on our supermarkets shelves. The alcohol aisle in particular is full of choices for every array of taste and budget.
In 2018 research slashed the recommended drinking limits to 14 units and confirmed that every alcoholic drink increases our risk of cancer! This advice poses so many questions, the main one being where do I turn if I can’t have my beer/wine/GnT? Your answer is Wise Bartender!
The Story of Wise Bartender
Working in public health and having taken up Triathlon, I wanted to reduce my alcohol consumption but didn’t want to miss out on the flavours of my favourite drinks. The supermarkets had a growing alcohol-free range but nothing extensive. Online stores wanted me to buy drinks by the case and very much promoted a completely teetotal lifestyle. All of these factors were blocks to me buying drinks and after speaking to friends and colleagues, this was a shared opinion.
Having moved to a new house I was able to free up some capital to turn my vision into a reality. After weeks of debate the name, Wise Bartender was dreamt up by my wife, Bia @mrs_wisebartender. I tracked down 17 alcohol free drinks and we hosted an alcohol-free tasting party where all but two drinks made the cut! I built the website and set up the social media pages. My dad built a pop-up-bar to take to events and I booked Wise Bartender into Shepton Mallet Sunday Market for our first days trading on 17th September 2017. The day before the market I got friends and family to wear a Wise Bartender running t-shirt and we promoted our launch at Shepton Mallet Park Run!
We were the only alcohol-free e-store offering drinks by the single bottle and we started to build a social media following with daily posts. As well as using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram we launched a Strava club to engage athletes, a key customer base in the alcohol-free market.
Why alcohol free?
The alcohol-free category is one of the fastest growing drink categories ever. Within it we have several sub-categories; beer, cider, wine and spirits. The alcohol-free beer category is probably the most established with the first versions popping up in the 70s and 80s although its only in the last 10 years that this category has really started to gather pace.
Most alcoholic brewers have at least one alcohol-free offering and those that don’t risk getting left behind. We also have a number of brewers who only brew alcohol free beers including brands such as Nirvana, Big Drop and Smashed Drynks. The last year has also seen brewers producing more and more specific beers and speciality brews over the usual pale ales and lager. We have seen Saisons, Sours, Summer Ales, Table Beers, Porters and even Belgium style Triple and Blonds!
The alcohol-free category is one of the fastest growing drink categories ever. Most alcoholic brewers have at least one alcohol-free offering and those that don’t risk getting left behind.
The alcohol-free cider category is probably the youngest, with maybe less than 5 years history. There are a number of brands jumping into the market like Thatchers, Sheppy’s and Celtic Marche and we are also seeing a number of other cider producers producing ciders which is really exciting, including Pulp with the UKs first ever rosé cider.
Alcohol free wine does seem to divide people a little. The whites, rose and sparkling all seem to hit the spot but there does seem to be a challenge to get the right mouth feel with reds. Our favourite wines currently are Scavi & Ray prosecco, Belle & Co sparkling and Outfox rosé and white. It’s also worth considering wine alternatives which can emulate the flavours of wine such as Boucha Kombucha and Nine Elms red wine replacement.
The spirit industry has boomed. Seedlip were the founding fathers of this category and their spirits are now popping up all over the globe. Since the launch of Seedlip in 2015, literally hundreds of alcohol-free spirits have popped up. Some more successful than others but all with a different slant on what an alcohol-free spirit should be. If you’re after something floral then Borrago is a great choice, perhaps something more spiced then head for Silk Tree. Most recently we have also taken on Lyre’s spirits from Australia, with 12 versions of your favourite alcoholic spirit, just about any cocktail is now possible as alcohol free!
Our drinks range has now risen to over 250 varieties, including beers, ciders, wines, spirits and even Prosecco and a G & T. We are now the largest alcohol free e-store in the UK and all of our drinks are sourced from across the UK, Europe and beyond. We also specialise in providing a wide range suitable for all dietary needs and we highlight drinks that are gluten free, vegan friendly, isotonic and ones that are enriched with vitamins.
The UKs widest range of alcohol free beers, ciders, wines and spirits www.wisebartender.co.uk