Club Soda explores why pubs are getting on board with alcohol-free drinks
Pubs have noticed that something is changing about our drinking habits. With millions of people across the UK cutting down on their alcohol intake, there is a new wave of customers who are looking for a more considered tipple.
Roll back a few years and you would be right to think that the pub was the last place you would find any interesting alcohol-free drinks. But over the past year or so, there has been a big shift, and a whole host of new spaces to discover.
But why have certain pubs decided to get on board with this trend?
Fugitive Motel in Bethnal Green, was set up by forward thinking owner David Burgess who wanted to create a bar that catered equally to its customers, regardless of whether they were drinking alcohol or not.
“It felt really outdated that in many establishments the non-alcoholic options you were faced with were very bland,” David says.
Fugitive Motel offers a range of alcohol-free drinks including beers, kombuchas, and sparkling wines. They have a permanent alcohol-free draught line and also have a number of low-ABV beers as well for anyone looking to moderate their alcohol intake as opposed to staying totally dry.
“We just wanted it to be seamlessly integrated into our offering. So you could stand their having an alcohol-free drink and look identical to a person having a pint.
“No one can afford or wants a hangover.”
The Felin Fach Griffin – is a destination pub near the Brecon Beacons. Julie Bell, the manager, wanted to be able to offer non-alcoholic drinks that effectively complimented their meals.
Julie explains: “Because we’re a destination restaurant, we’re getting people travelling from London at the weekends, from Cardiff, Bristol, from Swansea. That’s up to a two-hour car journey so we’ve got to be able to offer them something.
“We forget sometimes we’re in the business of hospitality. We’re not in the business of let’s see how much alcohol we can get in a glass and shove down our throats.”
Zanna Mercer, manager at The Understudy in London, pointed out that this isn’t a new trend: “Certain ‘low and no’ drinkers were out there long before it was ‘cool’ - we’ve just not been catering for them.”
As a craft beer spot, The Understudy has tapped into the exciting alcohol-free beer options from breweries like Thornbridge and Big Drop, and are now curating a new alcohol-free spirits list to make sure there’s something for every non-drinker.
“The change needs to start with our menus. Quality should be like for like. Range should be hitting at least a proportionally representative mark.”
With pubs like these ahead of the curve, more and more will be jumping on the bandwagon. The future looks bright if you’re looking to go out when you're not drinking alcohol.
The Club Soda Guide (@ClubSodaGuide) features 3,000 pubs, bars and restaurants which are rated based on their selection of ‘low and no’ alcohol drinks. You can search by your location to find a great new spot, or even look for the nearest place to get your favourite alcohol-free drink, with venues from Aberdeen to Plymouth represented.