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Why it's important to have non-alcoholic options

Written by Nicki Brown and Brent Braaten

November 24th 2021

If you are reading this, you’ve probably been to a bar at least once. Whether it’s an ambient cocktail bar or a rowdy line-dancing beer hall, the mechanics of your experiences are similar. 1. Your bartender or server asks what you want to drink. 2. You look at the drink menu which is mainly made up of beer, wines and spirits. 3. You make a selection and your host presents you with your alcoholic beverage of choice.


But what if you want something non-alcoholic?


Suddenly your choices are drastically reduced. They probably have juice, pop or coffee. They might be able to make a tonic water with a splash of cran. And there’s always the old standby: tap water over ice. (with a lemon wedge? Fancy!) These choices will also sometimes be served alongside a quizzical look from that staff member or an awkward conversation with your companions. This can ruin the atmosphere of your night out or at least make it more difficult to find a volunteer to be the designated driver. 


We live in a drinking culture. Sometimes it seems brave or resilient to remain sober while your friends are letting loose, whether that means “not drinking to get drunk” or “not drinking at all”. There are many people who stay away from alcohol because of alcoholism, cultural beliefs, personal choices, big life events like pregnancy, or simply because they don’t like the taste or the feeling of their experience while under the influence. 

 

Drinking to feel included has been a pressure on many for years with examples of teams going out for beers to bond with staff members, and new friends or first dates ending up at a bar for some social lubrication. 


People should never have to feel alienated when they are not drinking alcohol at a bar or restaurant.  More people are choosing to remain sober as binge-drinking has become passe, but there are limited options. Luckily there has been a trend towards “dry bars” as society leans towards more conscientious drinking. This should be taken as an opportunity for licensed establishments to expand their menu to allow those that don’t drink to still enjoy something tasty that isn’t simply water and pop. After all, if coffee bars offer decaf coffee consistently, then why can’t bars do the same with non-alcoholic beverages?


Dear Friend is a bar in Dartmouth known for delicious specialty cocktails, but they also take the time and effort to create non-alcoholic mocktails that look like the real deal and taste just as delicious as their alcoholic menu. 


Upstreet Brewing from PEI recently introduced their line of non-alcoholic beers “Libra” and they've become extremely popular! 


Though here at Good Robot we have yet to expand to non-alcoholic products, we try to offer many options to those that come for the atmosphere and not for the beer. 


More people are becoming “sober curious” and the market reflects that. Whether you’re the designated driver, have to get up early the next morning, or someone who has anxiety amplified by alcohol, the options at a location shouldn’t hold you back from still having a good time at social gatherings. No one wants to feel singled out simply because they don’t drink.  


So what is holding more restaurants and bars back? Is it the worry that they’ll spend too much money and effort to create a menu for a select few of their guests? Or is it simply because they don’t feel the need to have more options on site because the perceived bar audience is those that drink, and tend to drink heavily? 


Drinking is fun because of the people you surround yourself with, not because of the alcohol percentage. If more bars and restaurants started adding more clearly labeled non-alcoholic specialty drinks, (and a bit more training for their staff around how to make non-drinkers feel more comfy in alcohol-centric spaces) they could make a night of camaraderie more accessible for all your friends, tea-totalers and chug-lords alike.




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