Approximately 33 percent of Americans do not drink alcohol.
That means that one out of every three guests at your home, your restaurant or your bar may be searching for a "zero proof" option. That also means they shouldn't be excluded from your top-notch hosting or bartending skills
Whether you're looking to stock your restaurant with options for non drinkers, good non-alcoholic products and ingredients, or you want your home bar to cater to everyone, we've got you covered...
Here are some tips on how to stock a non-alcoholic bar the right way to ensure that your guests who prefer not to imbibe still have plenty of options.Break Away from Boring Choices
For a long time, anyone not drinking booze didn't have much choice at bars.
They've mostly been limited to boring, flavorless drinks like club soda with lime or sugary options like sodas and juices.
So you're sitting there, guzzling club soda after club soda straight from the bar gun while your friends are sipping beautiful, hand-crafted drinks made by the bartender in a bow-tie and suspenders.
Today, thanks to an increase in sober and sober curious people, there are more choices available to non drinkers than ever before - from bottled mocktails to non-alcoholic, distilled spirits.
In short, there's everything you need to stock a complete, non-alcoholic bar.
Boring drink options for non drinkers are a thing of the past.Basic Products and Ingredients for Any Non-Alcoholic Bar
Approach stocking your non-alcoholic bar like you would a regular bar...
A few random bottles of tequila and vodka, clumped ice in the freezer and a liter of Coke won't cut it.
You need enough ingredients on hand to make a few, solid drinks that will appeal to different tastes.
You can build out your non-alcoholic bar from there... but, today, we're talking about the essentials...Non-Alcoholic Beer - A zero proof bar's best friend
We'll start with the simplest option...
Every bar should keep a six pack of non-alcoholic beer on hand. Take it from the fridge, pop the top and you've got a delicious and refreshing option for your guests.
Sometimes, folks don't need a fancy mocktail. They just want that cold, classic beer (without the alcohol, of course).
You probably remember when non-alcoholic beer drinkers were forced to choose between O'Douls and St. Pauli Girl.
Fortunately for us Zero Proofers, the options have exploded.
Non-alcoholic beer makes up just 5% of the beer volume sold worldwide. But it's grown at 3.9% a year for the past five years, versus just 0.2% for traditional beer. In fact, it's the fastest-growing segment of the beer market.
And the big beer companies are taking note.
Heineken introduced a "0.0" version that has zero alcohol, but tastes incredibly similar to the alcoholic version.
A host of craft brewers are also offering new, non-alcoholic beer choices...
Athletic Brewing out of Denver, CO offers golden ales, IPAs and double IPAs for the Zero Proofer who wants more flavor out of their experience. They run out quite often, but we've managed to get them on amazon from time to time.
WellBeing Brewing Company out of St. Louis also offers a number of craft, non-alcoholic options like its Intrepid Traveler Coffee Cream Stout. TZP also has a few recipes to take your NA beer to the next level.
So sample some of the many and growing options in the non-alcoholic beer space and stock your favorites in your bar.Alcohol-Free Spirits - A growing trend
Zero Proofers want a drink that offers the same great experience that the alcohol drinker gets.
We want something subtle (not a sugary, fruit bomb) and with an edge that keeps you from gulping the drink quickly.
Alcohol-free spirits are a great addition to any bar to introduce subtle, complexity to non-alc bar.
Seedlip is by far the most popular brand in the space.
Seedlip is a distilled, non-alcoholic spirit. The founder, Ben Branson, experimented with distilling hundreds of herbs and spices while creating his aromatic and herbal spirits.
The result is three different Seedlip Flavors - Spice 94, Graden 108 and Grove 42. You can find them on Amazon here.
Try using Seedlip, or another nonalc spirit, as you would any liquor in your drinks... it adds complexity and flavor you won't get from juice and syrups.
You can use these spirits to mix inventive, involved mocktails... or you can simply add a shot to your favorite club soda or tonic water and squeeze a lime.
Or, if you don't feel like mixing your own drink, try a bottled, nonalc cocktail.
Curious Elixirs offers several bottled options like their No. 1, which they describe as "our booze-free spin on classic stirred cocktails like the Negroni."
On the topic, don't miss the recipe for the best nonalc negroni we've ever tried.Bitters
Bitters are sort of like seasonings that add an extra kick and depth of flavor to alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) beverages. If you want your bar to offer 100% alcohol-free options, be sure to look for bitters that expressly say they do not contain alcohol (many contain small amounts).
You can easily find lots of bitters that will add hints of chocolate, citrus, or other delicious flavors to your drinks.
Usually 8-10 drops to coat the glass, or sprinkled on top of a mocktail is enough to add an extra dimension of flavor and aromas.
An aperitif will add more flavor and structure to a mocktail. They're a step beyond bitters and are good for when you want to create a stronger-tasting drink. You can add them in after your base spirit for additional notes of smokiness, citrus, or spice.Simple Syrups
Made at home, or bought online and in-store, simply syrups are often the core ingredient in mocktails. The basic formula for all simple syrups is water and sugar boiled down into a concentrate with an added flavor (like rosemary, honey, hibiscus, etc).
Over 50% of mocktail recipes will likely include a simple syrup portion, so make sure you stock up or get comfortable making this super simple ingredient.Mixers (Soda Water, Tonic Water, Ginger Beer)
Most people are beyond boring non-alcoholic beverages like soda water -- at least when they're consuming them on their own. It's still good to have these drinks on hand, though. That way, you have plenty of options for mixers should somebody prefer a more classic drink.
Soda water is a must for any bar. And it's even more important with nonalc drinks.
Make sure you buy a soda water with lots of bubbles. The high carbonation is refreshing. And it slows you down from gulping your drink.
You should also invest in great tonic water (our favorite is Fever Tree) or a tonic syrup (which can be added to any club soda or sparkling water).
Tonic water adds an interesting flavor profile of either herbal, floral or spicy notes to the drink, and makes a drink taste more sophisticated.
As a bonus, tonic water's active ingredient is called quinine, which is known to keep mosquitos away in case you like to enjoy your drinks on the porch.
Ginger Ale or ginger beer is another good addition to any bar. Fever Tree makes a good one. But we're partial to Blenheim's Hot - a southern-made ginger ale with a super spicy kick.
That's all you need to stock your non-alcoholic bar and get back to hosting. You can now get back to worrying about what Spotify playlist to select.
If you want some extra credit and need a list of basics to tools and gadgets to store you new found non-alcoholic products, here's a few more things you can add to your list below.
Essential Bar Tools
When it comes to figuring out how to stock a non-alcoholic bar, you need to think beyond drink ingredients. Here are some other essential tools you'll need for your non-alcoholic bar:Bar Carts
If you're stocking a home bar, you're likely going to need a bar cart or table to keep all of your supplies.
Look for a bar cart on wheels (for easy transportation) that offers plenty of storage space. It should also give you enough room to work without having to worry about knocking something over when you're mixing up mocktails or pouring drinks for your guests.Water Sparkler
If you don't want to buy your own sparkling water, consider investing in a water sparkler that adds the bubbles for you.
Devices like a Soda Stream are lifesavers for those who want to make non-alcoholic (or alcoholic) drinks on the fly and don't have time to run out to the store for cases of sparkling water. They may cost more than you'd like upfront, but you'll find that they save you money later on.Cocktail Shakers
Make sure you have a good cocktail shaker at the ready. You may want to invest in multiple shakers and label one as the alcohol-free shaker. That way, you don't have to worry about accidentally mixing up people's drinks when you're serving a mixed crowd.Peelers
A peeler is a great tool to have handy at any bar, non-alcoholic or otherwise.
Having a high-quality peeler at the ready will make it easy for you to add some flair and extra flavor to people's drinks by throwing in some lemon or orange peel.
It's easier to use than a knife, and you'll be way less likely to accidentally cut yourself in the process.Knives
Peelers may be superior to knives for certain things, but that doesn't mean you should eschew knives altogether.
You're going to need easy access to one so you can slice up lemons and limes for people's drinks.
If you don't have time to pre-slice your lemons and limes before the party starts, having a good, sharp knife at your side will give you a chance to slice some up in a hurry.Glasses
Finally, make sure you have plenty of glasses for your guests, too. Invest in some high-quality cocktail glasses and keep them at the ready so nobody has to drink out of a red solo cup.
You may want to have some reusable metal or glass straws available, too, if you're looking to cut down on your plastic waste.Start Stocking Your Non-Alcoholic Bar Today
If you want your bar to cater to those who don't drink as well as those who do, be sure to keep these products and ingredients in mind, especially as you begin practicing your mocktail-making skills.
They'll help you gather all the basic products for non-alcoholic drinks that you need to help all your guests feel comfortable and have a great time.
Ready to start whipping up some non-alcoholic recipes, we've got you covered there as well.
Check out these non-alcoholic recipes.