The Next Round: What happens after you change your drinking?
You want to be inclusive – if you are not drinking today, the level of thought put into your attendance at a reception is often obvious – a warm glass of orange juice concentrate screams ‘we don’t really care if you stay or not’. You cater for vegetarians with your food options, why not do the same for those not drinking alcohol?
Choice is good hospitality– from full strength wines and beers to lower ABV products and alcohol-free drinks – you are enabling people to make the right decisions for them. Most importantly, you are creating an environment where they can refuse alcohol without feeling embarrassed or ashamed about it.
You want them to rave about you. It’s great to get positive feedback about your event but it’s even better when your guests are still talking about it the next day. When a non-drinker is served something special, it’s impossible for them not to spread the word.
It may surprise you that there have always been people at events who don’t drink alcohol. Reasons range from illness, religion, pregnancy, driving, an early start, or just never being a drinker.
But they have rarely been catered for very well. Non-drinkers at events have been treated like they are doing something unusual, not conforming, so their experience did not matter
… and that affects all your drink choices.
The top reasons people moderate their drinking include:
And we know from our customers a sugar-free diet and living with diabetes are also common.
When you serve beer – have and alcohol-free one as well. Match the styles of the alcoholic beer you are serving.
Include alcohol-free options as well if you are serving cocktails.
Offer an alcohol-free sparkling wine or sparkling tea if you are serving wine.
Have a lower sugar craft soda, or pre-canned cocktail.
Water – this is a legal requirement for serving alcohol
Juice concentrate. It’s not 1980 or breakfast!
A high sugar soda. Guests can only manage one!
A mocktail made from mixed juice concentrates.
Caterers in the UK are very adaptable and have already incorporated changes to their ways of working to accommodate vegan diets, food intolerances and allergies, and healthy eating charters. Applying this positive thinking to drinks as well as food is easy.
Many people not drinking or moderating will absent themselves or reduce the time they plan to spend at the drinks reception. When you promote the event, make sure that you don’t just say there are drinks (as in the UK we read this as alcohol). Instead, make sure people know there will be drinks for everyone – alcoholic and alcohol-free.
Guest expectations are still very low when it comes to alcohol-free options, so make sure you signpost the alcohol-free drinks – otherwise people will just go for the water. If it looks like alcohol people will assume it is alcohol, so make sure your guests know the difference.
If you are serving drinks on a tray as people walk in, there should be alcohol-free options available. Similarly, if drinks are presented on the dining table, there should also be alcohol-free options available.
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