Zero Proof Beverages help create Foolproof Opportunities
Posted by COLIN TURNBULL
Beverages can be a high-margin menu item.
Beverages can be one of the most profitable product segments of any foodservice operation. Whether you're a cocktail bar or a coffee bar, trends show more and more consumers are looking for high quality, handmade, craft beverages.
Accessibility is the core of hospitality and to add zero-proof lets you create delicious drinks for everyone. Zero-proof beverages let operators offer variety, visual appeal, health-driven options and trending drinks with minimal added labor or expense.
What Does Zero-Proof Mean?
Zero-proof indicates a beverage with no alcohol involved. Instead of a juice base, a zero-proof drink involves a non-alcoholic spirit alternative, which can achieve the flavour and complexity of a cocktail sans alcohol.
First things first: Don’t call it a “mocktail!" This new evolution of social drinking is just as carefully crafted as its boozy cousin, without the buzz (or the hangover!).
As bartenders, mixologists, and at-home aficionados explore everything from shrubs and house-made bitters to botanical alternatives to vodka, whiskey, and gin, it’s becoming even easier to choose not to drink without feeling left out.
Where to Start?
With the popularity of zero proof drinks there are always new contenders in the zero-proof spirit and cocktail world, some bottles promising boozeless stand-ins for gin, bourbon and tequila, others offering whole new frontiers of mysterious brews. Many of these offerings are cloaked in marketing verbiage that mixes the branding of health food (Natural! Organic! Vegan! Gluten-free! Farm-to-bottle!) with that of the booze industry (sexy relaxed party-time feelings!) in fascinating ways.
Some of these drinks are also coming closer to the ready-to-drink experience people like in wine and beer. As the author of the terrific “Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason,” Julia Bainbridge has spent a lot of hours testing recipes for booze-free concoctions, but “for people who don’t want to roll up their sleeves and steep a bunch of citrus peels with tea and various spices to get a base ingredient that they then mix with something else, it’s great to have more products that you can really lean on,” she says.
The Power of Powders
Powders are an exciting option because they create vivid colours consumers love. Many also are also associated with health benefits, such as boosting cognitive function.
With health being of concern coming out of COVID-19, especially for millennials and Gen Z, people are willing to pay more for these beverages because they also enhance the dining experience.
Mixing in powders takes minimal effort, and it can be used to enhance lemonade, smoothies, agua frescas and even beverages served from a juice dispenser.
Calling on Containers
Ready-to-drink beverages are perfect for grab-and-go and deliver all of the variety with minimal prep work.
Operators also can package their own beverage, using bottles with tamper-proof safety caps or filling Capri Sun-style pouches. Both options show off beverage color and work for takeout.
What does it all mean?
Operators don’t struggle to sell booze. They struggle to sell beverages at noon on Monday. Everybody drinks, and beverages can be a high-margin menu item.
More than just about any other area of foodservice, the beverage industry is driven by trends. Consumers are always looking for new flavors, exciting delivery methods, the purest forms, and on and on. It's up to operators to stay on top of those trends.
And finally, it's important to consider a range of equipment solutions that could help add additional profits into the mix, or rather, into the blender.
Learn more about beverage profitability by reading " A Case for Durability," a guide from Hamilton beach that highlights profitable bar and beverage equipment.