Taste testing non-alcoholic drinks… something we’d not have had much fun with until fairly recently. The rise of the adult-oriented non-alcoholic drink here in Britain has been swift. Laura Willoughby, MBE, the founder of Club Soda Guide and the Mindful Drinking Festival, says their website now lists 1,000 non-alcoholic options from 600 producers, many of which are operating here in the UK.
There’s undoubtedly an irony to the fact that Britain, once the international poster boy for bad drinking behaviour, appears to be leading the non-alcoholic drinks movement. However, as Laura explains in this podcast, that’s certainly the exciting situation we find ourselves in. Not only is our relationship with alcohol evolving, but the infrastructure is being updated, too. Aside from the growing legions of non-alcoholic drinks producers, the likes of Holland & Barrett are kitting out their nationwide stores with shelves dedicated to the Sober Curious.
Inevitably, Laura has become something of a connoisseur when it comes to that wide selection. So we raided her non-alcoholic drinks cabinet one recent lunchtime and took a collection of 12 bottles down into a podcasting studio that looked a little like a 1980s nuclear fallout shelter. Over a liquid smorgasbord, we discussed the rise of this movement, the great work that Club Soda are doing, the latest non-drinking stats and how to make your local pub really work for you.
The non-alcoholic drinks we put to the test
During the course of this podcast, we put the following non-alcoholic drinks to the test:
Non-alcoholic drinks quotes from Laura Willoughby
“I wanted to create something that felt like Weight Watchers but with booze.”
“Everywhere has alcohol, so that’s no longer the deciding factor. The deciding factor is whether the whole of our party can be accommodated, and that includes the vegan person and the person who isn’t drinking. And they’re not always the same person.”
“This year, 8.6 million people will be trying to cut down on their drinking. And that’s aside from the four to five million who are not drinking or have never drunk before. That suddenly becomes a really big market. And the people who are cutting down on their drinking are far more interested in what they’ll drink instead because the people who don’t drink anymore have been beaten to death with really poor choices for so long.”
“I always recommend that you make the bar staff work for you. In Britain, we’re very well practiced at going to the pub but we all still panic at the bar. Remember: this is your experience, this is your evening out. The staff don’t know their way around their products well enough yet, so make them work, make them look. Ask. If they haven’t got something, tell them that you’re disappointed. Be an active consumer. Make that pub better for the person who comes after you.”