Occasionally I will come across somebody who asks “why even bother with alcohol-free drinks?” I think their perspective is this - if you don't get the effects of alcohol, why would you want to waste the calories & the effort to make a booze-free drink? It's a fair question, one that I’ve thought long and hard about - especially as I’ve made the focus of my professional life curating a product that helps others create craft alcohol-free cocktails at home.
I think about it this way: when I was pregnant with my kids and trying to decrease my caffeine intake, I still couldn't start my day without a cup of coffee. I’d still have a cup or two of caffeinated coffee from time to time, but even when I wasn't getting that caffeine boost, I still craved the ritual of a morning coffee. For me a cup of coffee in the morning symbolizes the beginning of my day. It’s a ritual I’ve kept for years, and it helps me wake up (caffeine or not) and gives me a chance to pause and reflect before I begin my day.
Sometimes the ritual can be as important as the thing itself.
That’s what zero-proof drinks are for me. A symbol of all the things a “real” cocktail meant for me back when I still drank – only this time without the risk of a hangover, shame or regret if I had one (or several) too many. To me, it represents creativity (using unique combinations of flavors and ingredients and colors and garnishes), community & hospitality (a chance to come together over a shared experience), celebration (toasting with a well-crafted drink will always be more exciting than clinking a glass of water), and relaxation (just like that cup of coffee, the cue of a nice drink feels like a wind-down to the day).
People eat non-dairy ice creams, they eat plant-based meat replacements, they enjoy the look of fake leather. There are so many reasons one might happily and enthusiastically enjoy the alternative to the “real deal.” Alcohol-free cocktails may not be for everyone, and that’s OK. But if they’re for you, we’re you’re people. Cheers, my friend.