The Liquid (R)evolution.

How alcohol-free drinks are changing the world of beverages.

You won't be finding any alcohol on the drinks menus at the Getaway in Brooklyn, The Virgin Mary Bar in Dublin or the Zeroliq in Berlin. More and more of these 'sober bars' are opening their doors all over the world and serving non-alcoholic creations rather than conventional craft beers or fine wines. In short – the so-called Liquid Evolution is in full swing. The following article explains the motivation behind this, how new the trend really is, and why it's worth breaking with conventions.

Hanni Rützler summarises the current Liquid Evolution trend as follows: drink better, drink finer, drink healthier. The food expert has been analysing the change in our eating culture for more than 25 years. And in collaboration with the Zukunftsinstitut future-oriented think tank and Lebensmittel Zeitung, the leading trade journal of the consumer goods sector in Germany, she regularly publishes an annual 'Food Report' – an ABC of trends in the foodstuffs industry.

This year, the report focuses particularly on beverages. An entire chapter is dedicated to the topic, as our drinking culture and drinks industry are in the process of re-inventing themselves.

# About curiosity and sobriety.

What prompted this is the growing interest in non-alcoholic beverage alternatives. Trend watchers often refer to this development as the 'Liquid Evolution'. Surprisingly, perhaps, this trend is driven mainly by the younger generation. A survey revealed that the younger the consumer, the less frequently they choose alcoholic drinks. Generation Z in particular, which includes anyone born between 1997 and 2010, seems to prefer juices, mocktails and infused water to champagne, cocktails and beer.

# About shifts and motives.

But how new is this latest desire for sobriety really? In actual fact, alcohol and alcohol abstinence have been at the forefront of social deliberations for quite a while. A major contributor in this regard was British author Ruby Warrington, who published her book Sober Curious in 2018, encouraging people to change their relationship with alcohol. In Warrington's view, there is absolutely no point in doing daily yoga sessions and drinking green smoothies if you then order one drink after the other at a bar in the evenings.

Her concept met with widespread approval. A movement was even formed, inspired by Warrington’s lifestyle book. Followers of the 'Sober Curious' movement in the USA questioned their own habits as well as social conventions and either quit drinking or cut down on their alcohol consumption. The movement then spilt over to Europe, where the new desire for sobriety is these days toasted with exotic, non-alcoholic drinks, especially in urban environments – and here flavour takes precedence over alcohol content.

Be it Liquid Evolution or Sober Curiosity, both trends are essentially about openness to and interest in new fluid creations that are far from traditional classic drinks. Drinks manufacturers are also responding to this – especially young, committed start-ups. The combination of creativity, a love of experimentation and the necessary product knowledge is resulting in non-alcoholic craft beers, cuvées made from mountain apple juice and hop lemonades. Long gone are the days of non-alcoholic drinks based only on water or tea, fruit juices or sugary lemonade.

# Enjoyment meets health.

Besides curiosity and a love of experimentation, health is also a powerful motivator behind the Liquid Evolution. After all, alcohol and its (after)effects, like waking up with a hangover, are quite difficult to reconcile with a health-conscious lifestyle.

Plus, alcoholic drinks often contain plenty of calories, but absolutely no nutrients. Followers of the Sober Curious movement often don’t only avoid alcohol for the benefit of their physical, mental and spiritual health. In many cases, added sugar, preservatives, artificial colourants and flavourings are also not on when it comes to their drinks. Instead, they want organic ingredients from the best sources.

# It’s all about balance.

Even if abstaining from alcohol can be beneficial to health, the Liquid Evolution is ultimately less about a strict healthy lifestyle than about change. In line with the principle of 'moderation rather than strict temperance', sensible consumption is what it really involves.

Rather than labelling abstinence as good and drinking as evil, a much healthier and more helpful approach is to be honest with yourself. This means evaluating the role of alcohol in your life, questioning conventions, and in the end doing what enhances your own well-being. When all is said and done, life should be fun and the new alcohol-free creations are enabling us to extend our taste horizons.

# Next step in the Liquid Evolution.

One thing is certain: the Liquid Evolution is not a passing trend. After all, similar movements and alcohol-free month-based campaigns such as 'Sober October' and 'Dry January' have been around for decades. In the next few years, the demand for non-alcoholic alternatives is therefore highly likely to remain steady or even grow. Projections indicate that sales of non-alcoholic or low-alcohol beverages in the USA alone have increased by an average of 39% up to and including this year.

In the long term, this will change not only the product range offered by retailers, but also the restaurant world. The keyword here being: food pairing. Expert Hanni Rützler predicts that a good restaurant will in future not only stand out because of its exquisite wine selection but also through perfect pairing of multi-course menus and tea. A cup of tea can also create harmonious combinations and relationships and bring out the depth of flavour by reflecting or complementing the flavours and aromas of individual components of dishes or by acting as a neutraliser between courses.

# If you never try, you’ll never know!

Have we piqued your interest? You can also very easily conjure up creative, aromatic alcohol-free drinks at home. A home-made iced tea, for instance, is sure to be super refreshing. Simply brew a cup of aromatic tea such as HONEY ROOIBOS or STRONG ASSAM and add orange or apple slices. Allow to cool and sweeten to taste with a little apple juice. Then pep it up with ice cubes – done. If you’d rather wind down your day with a cocktail alternative, you definitely won’t come short either. Because you don’t necessarily need alcohol to bring out the different flavours to the maximum in mixed drinks – tea is also a great basis for harmonious creations. The incredibly range of tea types opens up a whole world of drinks rich in variety. How about a Tropical Ginger, which boasts exciting flavours? The fresh spiciness of our GINGER LEMON together with the acidity of the limes and the sweet, tropical mango awakens summer feelings even in cooler temperatures. Or for those who love a mint and chocolate combination: a glass of Cool Darling beautifully brings together chocolaty tea, mint and vanilla. No matter what you choose, one thing is certain: it’s worth breaking with conventions, moving out of your comfort zone and being open to trying out new drinks.