Written by: Clarissa Wetmore, Lead Craft Bartender at 16 Bay View (follow her @bartender.red)
Picture this. It’s Tuesday night, and you have a huge presentation in the morning. You decide to go out with friends for dinner, and they’re ordering martinis, Old Fashioneds, margaritas…the list goes on. You know you can’t afford to be fuzzy when you wake up; your promotion is riding on this presentation. You stare intently at the menu, studying the ABV listings next to each cocktail. Then, it stands out to you. “Zero Proof Cocktails”; a unique list of alcohol-free, hand-crafted options at the bottom. Problem solved! Still delicious and complex in nature, but they leave out the risky part of cocktail hour – the side effects.
With health consciousness at the fore-front of our minds these days, (impossible to avoid it during an international pandemic) a huge population is joining the ranks of the “low-no” movement; low or no-alcohol beverages. This movement has made room for dramatic leaps in creativity for the craft mixologist. We are being asked to flex our knowledge of flavor profiles, pairing, and even color scheme. We have also seen a massive movement toward inclusion where recovery-culture is concerned: a large percentage of people are committing to sober living for specific periods of time (see: “Sober January”) or indefinitely, for the sake of their mental and physical health. This doesn’t mean these folks are willing to sacrifice the social experience that is often enjoyed in a restaurant or bar, however.
This transition to a healthier lifestyle by such a large number of patrons has allowed for creativity that goes beyond the traditional “craft cocktail”. With the absence of alcohol as a base, mixologists are taking what they know about flavor and now creating options for all age groups. In many ways, we have faced a number of hurdles in reference to the “zero proof” approach. First and foremost, cost. Why should someone pay $8-$10 for a “cocktail” with no booze in it?
A fair question, to be sure. It comes down to experience. The effort that goes into building these cocktails is really no smaller than a traditional drink, and sometimes even more difficult, with regard to complexity! The second most common question I’ve heard is what’s the point? Well, for many, this option allows participation in social engagements, which may otherwise prove uncomfortable for those who choose not to or cannot imbibe. Inclusivity is becoming increasingly more visible, and we in the mixology community are here for it!
As we evolve culturally, we look forward to the changes that come with that evolution. Today, I sit writing this in a beautiful hotel lobby bar that is capable of serving all walks of life, because individually-crafted and thoughtful customer service is at our core. Understanding that offering an experience that far exceeds standard expectations should be our constant goal allows us to continuously stand out; allows us to meet every possible need, always.
Zero Proof Cocktail Menu at 16 Bay View
Strawberry Sunset $7
Fresh Strawberries, Mint, Lime, Club Soda
A Cinderella Story $7
Pineapple, Orange, Lemon, Agave
Rosemary Takes a Greyhound $7
Grapefruit, Vanilla, Rosemary, Tonic
Cucumber Lemon Fizz $7
Fresh Cucumber, Lemon, Simple Syrup, Club Soda
Maine Blueberry Lemonade $7
Maine Blueberry Syrup, Lemon, Club Soda