The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything: from the creative ways we’ve shifted our business models just to stay afloat, to meeting the changing needs and desires of our customers as many began their quarantine journeys into home bartending, and now to the new ways in which they’re returning to our establishments to order drinks and imbibe in more intentional ways than ever before.
As your business emerges on the other side, it’s important to show empathy and understanding to the needs and desires of your guests. Welcome them back and show them that you’re listening by highlighting quality low- and no-proof cocktails on your menu.
What Are No/Lo Cocktails?
No/Lo (sometimes stylized as No-Lo, NoLo or NOLO) is shorthand for no- and low-proof cocktails. You might be more familiar with terms like spirit-free, non-alcoholic, or mocktail, which are also used to describe no-proof cocktails and beverages. Low-proof cocktails contain alcohol at lower percentages than classic full-proof recipes. Classic examples include the Americano, Mimosa, and Aperol Spritz.
Why Serve No/Lo Cocktails?
As your customer flow picks back up, you may be surprised that their drinking habits have changed. The trends of low- and no-proof cocktails have picked up substantially in recent years, with more and more bartenders exercising the same degree of care in the conception and execution of these cocktails as the full-proof recipes in their repertoire. This year’s Dry January (an annual tradition during which participants elect to abstain or reduce their alcohol intake) saw a surge in popularity, with many participants choosing healthier coping habits after a particularly stressful year, and others expanding upon their newfound home bartending skills picked up over the course of the pandemic.
Whatever your customer’s reasons for lowering their alcohol consumption or abstaining entirely, it’s clear that this is a trend that’s here to stay. That said, it’s human nature to want to be social - that’s where you come in. By providing a selection of low- and no-proof cocktails on your menu, you’re affording yourself the opportunity to cast a wider net for potential customers, satisfy the changing needs of returning customers, and create room in your profit margins for pricier full-proof cocktails.
What Are the Keys to A Successful No/Lo Cocktail?
Unique, quality ingredients are always going to be your first point of order: Low- and no-proof cocktails don’t need to be complicated to be good, which means that every ingredient used should be held to the same standard of quality that you hold your full-proof cocktail ingredients to.
Get creative with sweeteners: Many bartenders choose to add creative nuance to their no/lo cocktails by infusing fruits, herbs and botanicals into simple syrups. Maple syrup, agave nectar, and thinned honey are great, too. These are all relatively easy and efficient ways to add necessary sweetness to your no/lo recipes without overdoing it.
Opt for quality mixers: By choosing quality craft mixers, bartenders can add the kind of natural botanical flavor, acidity and top-notch carbonation that their customers are looking for in no/lo cocktails. Top Note’s lineup of sparkling mixers are made with less sugar than traditional soft drinks, contain natural, unique ingredients, and have the kind of sparkle that makes your nose tingle (you know what we’re talking about).
Name your ingredients: If the ingredients used to make your no/lo cocktails are unique, be sure to let your customers know. By calling out your ingredients by name on your menu, your customers will have a better understanding of what your no/lo drinks taste like, recognize the care, intention and creativity exerted to bring them to life, and ultimately be more willing to order them at a higher price point.
What are the economic benefits to serving no/lo cocktails?
By featuring quality low- and no-proof cocktails on your menu, you have the opportunity to expand your customer base and create room for higher-pour cost cocktails on the rest of your menu. If your establishment sells a lot of bottled soft drinks, consider adding Top Note sparkling mixers to your N/A beverage menu or grab & go cooler. Customers of all ages will appreciate the option to order a craft soda over a sugary commercial drink (Grapefruit Soda, Ginger Beer, and Bitter Lemon Tonic Water are our most popular soft drink alternatives).
For more information on Top Note Sparkling Mixers, head to our Industry Home Page, curated just for bars, restaurants, cafes and distributors.
Head to our Recipes Page for tons of low- and no-proof cocktails, including Top Note originals and recipes by fantastic bartenders, distillers and brand ambassadors across the country. Find our collections of low-proof recipes here and non-alcoholic recipes here.