As the summer months approach, many engaged couples are finalizing the details of their weddings and receptions, graduates and their families are planning parties, and baby showers are in full swing. With 2.3 million weddings happening each summer and 4 million people graduating from college, many events are happening in the next four months. The beverage menu will likely play a prominent role in all these events. While most don’t want a completely “dry” event, they do want all their guests to have fun! Expectant mothers, newly graduated high school students, sober, sober-curious, or simply taking a night off will appreciate the thoughtfulness of non-alcoholic options beyond soda and water. Having irresistible adult beverages without alcohol available is key to meeting everyone’s needs. Here are five ways to stay on trend, inclusive, and fun without short-changing the guests who choose not to drink alcohol.
Go beyond lemonade. Summer weather invites us to use more citrus and reminds us of playing outside with friends after school. Include the citrus but make it more adult by offering a serve yourself lemonade, iced tea, flavored sparkling water, and flavored syrups to give your guest the ability to customize their drinks and experiment.
Flavor Themes: Use seasonal and regional herbs and fruits. In the same way you expect dishes to use fresh seasonal and local ingredients, use those same elements in non-alcoholic cocktails to elevate your offerings. For example, use prickly pear, plums, oranges, sage, mint, or whatever is native to your area for a truly unique non-alcoholic cocktail.
Incorporate unique glassware and edible flowers. Who doesn’t love an interesting garnish and a special glass? The right glass makes everything taste better. Don’t save the visual interest for the alcohol. Add mason jars, coups, edible flowers, edible glitter, fancy glass straws, and some color to your offerings. We eat with our eyes first.
Make it prominent. Don’t make the guests search for something special. Instead, place the non-alcoholic options on the menu, display them on the bar, or place the nonalcoholic drinks stations adjacent to the bar. The goal is to provide options so guests feel included.
Secret Cocktail. In addition to the non-alcoholic beverages on your menu, craft a specialty non-alcoholic cocktail but don’t put it on the menu. Start a whisper campaign through family, friends, or bridal party to add excitement and suspense to the party. Encourage people to talk, create buzz around the cocktail, and encourage them to try it. T
he bottom line is you should treat your non-alcoholic options with as much care as the alcoholic ones. Anecdotal research indicates that 1 out of every 3 adults are not drinking alcohol or drinking less. As a bonus, having non-alcoholic options readily available means people are less likely to get out of control. Make your event fun without drama. Offering quality non-alcoholic options is a win-win-win situation. You stand out, increase your revenue (a quality non-alcoholic cocktail is priced like an alcoholic one), and cater to your guests' needs. And don’t forget a non-alcoholic sparkling wine for the toast!
First published in Pr%f the Magazine Vol 2, May/June, Issue 10