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Alcohol alternatives are everywhere, with a pour for every (non)drinker

Meghan McCarty Carino Sep 23, 2022
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Above, cans of nonalcoholic beer come off the production line at a brewery in Stratford, Connecticut. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Alcohol alternatives are everywhere, with a pour for every (non)drinker

Meghan McCarty Carino Sep 23, 2022
Heard on:
Above, cans of nonalcoholic beer come off the production line at a brewery in Stratford, Connecticut. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The king of beers will be nonalcoholic at this year’s World Cup. The soccer tournament starts in November in Qatar, where alcohol is legal but restricted in public spaces like stadiums. Sponsor Budweiser is taking the opportunity to showcase its nonalcoholic offering, Budweiser Zero.

The company has big plans for no- and low-alcohol products, aiming to grow them from 6% to 20% of global volume in the next few years. It’s jumping on the growing trend for alcohol alternatives, which seem to be everywhere now.

You’ve got your nonalcoholic beers (craft ones now too), faux Champagnes, mock mezcals and phony Negronis in cute, little single-serving bottles. When there’s a New York Times Wirecutter guide, you know something’s having a moment.

“I tasted 69 nonalcoholic drinks, so there really is something for everyone,” said Anna Perling, who wrote Wirecutter’s guide and is now a reviews editor at Forbes Vetted

She was partial to Figlia Fiore — a bright-red aperitif. “It’s great and super tangy. I like it on its own with some ice or some seltzer.”

At Zero Proof Nation, Laura Silverman tracks the expanding bevy of nonalcoholic beverages, which weren’t around when she quit drinking 15 years ago.

“At the time, it felt like my life was over,” she said. “There was no socializing. There was nothing. You can’t do anything in your 20s.”

Now, she said health-conscious young people are increasingly “sober curious.” And they’re willing to spend on specialty drinks that help them celebrate or unwind, according to Caleb Bryant, a beverage industry analyst with Mintel.

“Consumers are wanting premium substitutes to alcohol, something that looks and maybe even tastes like an alcoholic beverage but are a healthier alternative.”

Bryant added that these brands could suffer if the economy slows and sends consumers looking for value. Club soda and lime anyone?

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