2015 is right around the corner, and Americans are ringing in the New Year with parties and celebrations both big and small. For partygoers that want an alcohol-free option, there's much more available than just sparkling juice.
Here are some tips from Bill Gamelli, president and founder of Mocktails Beverages, Inc., for how and why to throw a fantastic alcohol-free event.
Tip 1: Don't Leave Out the Non-Drinkers
Gamelli saw the need for a fun alcohol-free social beverage after witnessing his wife, Tracy, search for an alternative year after year. "As the drinker in my family, I wanted everyone to enjoy social outings equally, so I went on the hunt and found nothing available for Tracy and our friends who prefer not to drink alcohol," he states.
Tracy wasn't alone. About 45% of Americans are non-drinkers for a variety of reasons, including pregnancy/nursing, athletics, medication conflicts, alcohol allergies, religious abstention, those in recovery and the families of recovering alcoholics, weight loss goals or being the designated driver. For non-drinkers, soda and sparkling juice are typical alcohol-free beverage options along with syrupy ultra-sweet mixers, which "fall very short of satisfactory, and can make non-drinkers feel isolated and separated from the party or celebration," says Gamelli.
Gamelli suggests that parties, including the biggest of the year, should be inclusive for all guests. Bring the fun to everyone with options that don't leave anyone out, he advises. "It's supposed to be all about having fun when being social, but all too often a chore for non-drinkers getting through the party by dodging the questions about their drink choices," he explains.
He says non-drinkers want to share in the tradition of sharing food and beverages as people come together. But, there can be some social pressure to partake when drinking simply may not be an option at that particular time. "For those that are drinking alcohol, they often wonder why others are not, and all too often ask if everything is okay—sometimes out of concern, sometimes out of discomfort," says Gamelli. "This translates to pressure, but we think it's simply a desire for everyone to have fun together, and be a part of the party."
Tip 2: Serve Something High Quality; Leave the Sparkling Cider for the Kids!
Gamelli believes it's important for party hosts and hostesses to find mixer options that non-drinkers can enjoy that are less sweet, low-calorie and all-natural. He states, "Anyone not drinking should be able to enjoy the same drink, in the same glassware and join the party!"
This was the genesis of his company, Mocktails Beverages, Inc. He states, "Until we conceived Mocktails Brand Cocktails, there was simply no quality product available to serve both drinkers and non-drinkers in a fun, functional, upscale, convenient and healthful way. There are lots of non-alcoholic beverages, of course, but they were not created for this purpose."
His company offers a "lighter, better-for-you mixer" presented in a recyclable glass shaker bottle and made to be served in cocktail glassware. The taste is intended to appeal to both non-drinkers on its own and to those who want to add alcohol for a mixed drink. Options like these help make social events more fun and more inclusive for all. "Everyone can enjoy the party, whether drinking alcohol or not. It solves the non-drinkers conundrum, brings people together to simply enjoy themselves, and makes any gathering more enjoyable," he states.
Tip 3: Offer Variety to Guests
Pick several non-alcohol options for parties, and try to present both drinkers and non-drinkers a variety of tastes, colors, glassware and alcohol compliments for recipes. "It's all in fun, and truly enjoying yourself in good company," says Gamelli, whose firm offers Cosmopolitan, Margarita, Sangria and Scottish Lemonade Whiskey Sour varieties. He states. "There is a taste for everyone."
Gamelli often leans toward Scottish Lemonade. He states, "I love it with whiskey, and without when I am not in the mood to drink, or have that super early practice to drive to the next morning!"
He says he's all ears about new flavors to add to the line. He states, "We envision a full line of cocktail inspired drinks! Stay tuned for new flavors."
Tip 4: Have Fun Playing Bartender
There's something about shaking up a cocktail that adds fun and excitement to a party. Why should non-alcohol drinkers miss out? In the spirit of hosting a party without barriers for non-drinkers, consider letting all guests get in on the fun.
This is part of the reason that Gamelli's line is packaged in a cocktail shaker bottle. "We wanted to bring the fun and rituals and glassware equally to the non-drinkers world, especially when drinkers and non-drinkers alike will enjoy them," he states. The reusable, patented shaker beverage bottle boasts a double screw top, and can be reused. "People use billions of beverage bottles per year in U.S., most are thrown away, and only some get recycled. We are a socially responsible brand, so reusable and recyclable was important to us," he states.
Tip 5: Let Guests Get Creative
Instead of pouring for your guests, why not let them design their own drinks? After all, "Some like a heavy pour, some like a light pour, and some like no pour—just add ice and serve," states Gamelli.
Gamelli offers some ideas for enjoying and offering Mocktails Brand Cocktails to guests. "Our Karma Sucra flavor goes great with vodka, our Vida Loca goes great with Tequila (and Grand Marnier), our Sevilla Red goes great with red wine or brandy (and sliced fruit), and our Scottish Lemonade goes great with whiskey, bourbon or scotch. Many customers are adding vodka to our Scottish Lemonade as well."
Whether you add alcohol or not, he suggests that party hosts put out fun garnishes from fruit to sugar/salt for rimming glasses.
Give guests options for a fun and custom beverage—with or without the alcohol. To each their own!