Although Dry January may be behind us, the shift in people’s approach to healthy consumption cannot be ignored. We dive into how the low and no alcohol sectors are impacting the hospitality industry, how hotels are reacting and how you can cash in.
As the desire for wellness, healthy eating and fitness continues to capture the population, the hotels that are agile and adapting to these demands will be the ones winning business.
In reflection of this, it comes as no surprise that new stats released last month highlighted the dramatic change in the UK’s drinking habits, with what’s being called the ‘biggest ever’ uptake of Dry January.
Whilst 1 in 10 adult drinkers went entirely without booze in January, it seems more consumers used the month to lower, rather than cut out entirely, their alcohol intake.
New research from UK retailer Majestic Wine saw record-breaking sales of low alcohol and no alcohol beers and wine up +312% and +52% respectively – against the same month last year.
“During January our sales of no-lo nearly doubled,” explains Gabor Fodor, head of bars at The Hoxton. “Partially thanks to our bottomless booze-free brunch but also, we’ve generally seen it be a real success and popular choice, with more and more people choosing low- or no-alcohol options, especially through the week.”
Luxury London hotel One Aldwych has also noticed this increase in demand, with non-alcoholic spirits causing a stir.
“Recently we have seen a growth in interest in the low ABV cocktails,” adds Gosia Krok, assistant lobby bar manager at One Aldwych, “as well in non-alcoholic spirits such as Seedlip or Everleaf.
“Following Dry January, a month when many people choose to detox and opt for a non-alcoholic alternative, we have also seen a further spike in demand for our temperance cocktails, even more than with the low ABV drinks. The refreshing offering of ‘Sunshine Spritz’ based on Everleaf non-alcoholic bittersweet aperitif is a great replacement of an alcoholic spritzer.”
According to the research alcohol-free categories did well in the first few months of the year, which helped spark demand for wine from unexpected regions that typically have a lower alcohol percentage.
Sales of white wine styles from Germany that boast sub-8% ABV were up 22% in January, according to Majestic Wine.
In the beer category, sales of the likes of Heineken and Brew Dog continued to shine as the brands all got serious about offering low and no options.
Commenting on the figures, majestic chief executive, John Colley, said: “The way many of us consume alcohol is changing. There’s a definite sense that customers want to drink better, and understand what they’re consuming. They want to explore and appreciate what’s in their glass, and the alcohol content is incidental.”
At The Hoxton’s newest outpost in London, located in Southwark, the casual dining restaurant Albie has put a lot of focus on its low and no menus, offering a wide selection to capitalise on the demand.
Fodor comments: “At Albie we have a comprehensive no–to-low beverage offering, with 14 cocktails including reimagined well-known classics like a No–Alco Negroni and a No-Alco Cosmo and other house signatures. Alongside this, we have an extensive selection of non-alcoholic beers, kombuchas on tap and in bottles, and carefully selected alcohol-free wines and spirits.”
At One Aldwych there are five low-alcohol cocktails on the menu at the Lobby Bar, with the apple martini taking the crown as the best selling alternative.
“Looking at this trend, which is growing steadily,” says Krok, “we hope the popularity of our low and non-alcohol cocktails will continue and that the menu will go from strength to strength in 2020. Offering a comprehensive cocktail menu to meet the varied needs our guests is very important to us, as well as discovering new and exciting products. At One Aldwych we review new products on the market on a regular basis and are happy to make new additions to the menu if we feel it would enhance the experience of the Lobby Bar for our guests.”