Blake Lively uses alcohol for just about everything except drinking. Organizing a mixology class to celebrate its new range of mixers, Betty buzz, the 34-year-old actor says she puts St. Germain in her whipped cream and marinates her taco meat in tequila – but her actual eating habits are a far cry from those of the wild child “Gossip Girl “character who made her mega-famous.
“I don’t drink because I don’t like the effects of alcohol, but I like to be social,” Lively said, twirling the edge of her glass on a plate of crushed candy canes as she assemble a hot pink “faire-faire”. to drink. ”It was his motivation to develop a range of mixers complex enough to stand alone in alcohol-free concoctions that can be just as exciting as traditional cocktails.
Today, she plays with the other elements that make a drink festive and fun, whether alcoholic or not: fancy ice cubes, glasses rimmed with everything, pink salt to crushed candy canes and toppings – fruit. Thinly sliced, dried lavender blossoms (discarded for smelling “socks”), the cinnamon stick she says she rinsed and reused when her husband Ryan Reynolds finished his cocktail.
While Reynolds is famous for the face of Aviation Gin, Lively has been on the alcohol-free train for a long time; she remembers exactly one bar in New York, Little Branch, where the bartender made her a mocktail when she joined the “Gossip Girl” crew over ten years ago.
The head bartender there, Chris Vola, who has been at the chic Manhattan lounge bar for 13 years, recalled that a non-alcoholic menu they experimented with at their sister bar Middle Branch in 2012 wasn’t exactly a resounding success. “It was kind of a waste of menu space at the time,” Vola told TODAY Food. “It didn’t really change the number of people who ordered these types of drinks and the bartenders didn’t like making them for maybe half the price of a cocktail.”
The alcohol-free movement
But that was then. Today, Vola himself periodically takes a month off alcohol “to refuel and detox a little”. And among millennials, Lively isn’t the only one who wants better non-alcoholic drink options anymore. Taking note, young entrepreneurs have started to fill a growing niche.
According to the New York Times, the soft drinks market will be worth around $ 1.6 trillion by 2026. And millennials play a sizable role in demand. For example, Forbes reported that millennial consumers represent the largest segment, 42%, of non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beer drinkers in America, helping to drive explosive growth expected to reach $ 16.65 billion by the end of the year. Alcohol-free wine is also catching up with the game, but for millennial taste makers, the siren call right now comes from the mocktail game.
Like Lively, Ghia Founder Melanie Masarin, 30, says her business, which makes a popular alcohol-free appetizer, was born out of personal need. “I was trying to understand my digestion and understand my body better. One day I realized that six months had passed since my last drink. I decided not to ask myself at every meal whether I was going to drink or not and just quit completely, ”she said TODAY. “I’ve never been a heavy drinker, but loved the taste and the occasion. It makes things festive, and that’s what I missed when I quit drinking. So Ghia started with the desire to have a better option when I was away. “
Masarin knew exactly what she wanted her mixture to taste like. “When I was drinking I loved a Campari, an amaro, and I really wanted it to have different notes, something with bitterness and a searing effect, tannic and herbaceous notes, with which you could mix and vaporize. I really believe if you try to reproduce something alcoholic but non-alcoholic, you will not get a satisfactory result. “
Alternatives to alcoholic drinks like Ghia are gaining ground, but they remain outliers. Alcohol sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic, and the American Psychological Association has reported that nearly one in four American adults drink more to cope with stress. On Grubhub, margaritas were the fifth most popular order of 2021, behind cheeseburgers, tacos, chicken salad and pizza. However, alcohol consumption can contribute to weight gain and sleep problems, two very common phenomena. And while the pandemic has caused some drinkers to consume more, many others have become more health conscious.
Masarin believes trends like Dry January and Sober October have had a significant impact on popularizing the idea of a sober, or at least sober-curious, lifestyle. “What that does for people is give them a label that they can use as a shield. It’s an excuse not to drink because people are always expected to drink by default. ‘alcohol,’ she said. “In the meantime, some 66% of millennials are trying to cut down on alcohol. I don’t know sobriety with a capital S, but most of our customers want to drink less during the week and have a better option.”