If you’re a social butterfly who has made a New Year’s resolution to stop drinking alcohol, fear not. More Midcoast restaurants are accommodating your health concerns by adding nonalcoholic spirits and beers to their menus.
Joshua’s Tavern in Brunswick offers two nonalcoholic beer options and three mocktails made with nonalcoholic bourbon.
“We think it’s an emerging market,” said owner TJ Siatras.
Experimenting with mocktail recipes since October, Siatras said he made adjustments based on customer feedback. After realizing the bourbon substitute didn’t give the same burning sensation as real alcohol, he discovered that adding a touch of jalapeno juice did the trick.
For those wondering why people are making this transition to a booze-free lifestyle, Siatras argued it isn’t for financial reasons.
“Nonalcoholic spirits are not significantly less expensive than alcoholic spirits,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a financial thing. I think it pertains to people being a little more health-conscious.”
The Food and Drug Administration classifies a beverage as nonalcoholic when it contains less than 0.5% alcohol.
In addition to mocktails, Siatras upgraded his nonalcoholic beer selection this summer from the national brand O’Doul’s to a selection of beers from Kit NA Brewing in Portland — an American blonde akin to Miller Light and an IPA.
“They’ve done a really good job of trying to recreate balance and flavor profiles similar to traditional microbrews,” Siatras said.
Since the switch, he said his nonalcoholic beer sales have gone up 400%.
While the majority of nonalcoholic consumers in the U.S. are millennials, Siatras said his middle-aged patrons are the ones most willing to try the new products.
That is not the case at Byrne’s Irish Pub in Bath.
Byrne’s Irish Pub bar manager Maggie Lair said the biggest nonalcoholic consumers are in their 30s. She said her nonalcoholic beer sales increased 20% this year after adding Guinness 0 to their menu. She said it tastes just like traditional Guinness, minus the buzz.
“People like to have that option,” she said.
Although the pub only has two permanent mocktails listed on its menu, Lair said bartenders can make any drink nonalcoholic upon request. Lair said the demand for mocktails has grown over the past year as the pandemic quiets down.
“The lack of immediate pandemic pressure has made people make different choices,” she said.
Both Lair and Siatras said they would consider carrying more nonalcoholic options in the future if the demand continues to grow.
Intertidal: Sea urchin season is at its peak
Former Brunswick councilor pleads not guilty to child porn charges