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Why Are Alcohol Free Drinks So Expensive?

There are multiple layers to the answer to that question. First of all we have to differentiate the broad range of alcohol free beverages which range from soda water & juice to craft cocktails made with the finest ingredients and everything in between. Just like its alcohol packed cousin a unleaded cocktail can range in complexity and price. Isn't it interesting how many have been led to believe that the alcohol is the ingredient that holds value when in fact it has always been a low cost input that allows for extreme markup!?

Most people know this yet still place enough value on the experience that the math adds up for them. The truth is this translates into the alcohol-free world as well. We all know we can make a drink at home yet many of us would rather go out and pay more to enjoy the company of others. We are all seeking experience, connection and community which is why many equate the cost of having cocktails out with friends more valuable than pouring a drink at home. For many it is the atmosphere, whether it be the venue, ambiance, or music people are drawn to spaces that feel good. Just as dining out fetches a higher ticket price than eating at home grabbing cocktails out will too regardless if they are alcohol free or not. We have all heard the term you have to pay to play, which leads to the next reason people choose to pay more to go out and grab drinks rather than enjoying them at home…socialization. Our society has intertwined drinking and a good time, for many this is why they find it more challenging to go out without the familiar buffer that has been so deeply ingrained. In this day and age we have options that allow us to craft an alcohol free beverage to fulfill the desire for connection and support us as we re-evaluate our relationship with alcohol and its role in each of our lives. These options often hold a high ticket price as they are comprised of some of the finest ingredients to help nourish your body while you enjoy a night out. When you think about it, it really is incredible that not only have many of the alcohol free companies created alcohol alternatives that do not sacrifice flavor they are also supportive to the body, leaving you feeling better rather than worse...this in itself holds immense value. These high quality ingredients typically have added cost for the manufacture. Did you know that most alcohol alternative spirit companies are going through the same process to achieve flavor as the alcohol containing versions…only in addition they are going a step further to distill out the alcohol, making it a more labor & cost intensive process!?! Many of the alcohol alternative companies paving the way in the industry are small businesses with much higher production cost then large scale manufacturers. As we continue to find ways to normalize alcohol free options and support those offering them we will help to drive growth of these companies which will eventually help to stabilize production cost and reflect in the price of a drink.

Those who are viewing their adult beverage as a way to nourish themselves while re-evaluating their relationship with alcohol will see the added value and happily pay top dollar for their drink. While others may prefer a lower cost replacement that does not impact their pocket book more than alcohol. With the growth in the alcohol-free industry there really is something for everyone, which is amazing!! We are accustomed to the price increase we see when choosing top shelf liquors yet some may not realize that the alcohol free spirits that are being utilized to construct that higher priced cocktail are in fact the epitome of top shelf. Craft cocktails will always hold a higher value regardless if they have alcohol or an alcohol alternative as they are far more complex than say a Rum & Coke. A craft cocktail typically contains multiple layers including an alcohol alternative spirit or two, fresh squeezed juice, complex high quality bitters & simple syrups. As with all craft cocktails there are also the costs associated with the bartender mixing, shaking and serving them to those who prefer a professional to showcase their mixology skills while crafting a cocktail. Now when you begin to look at what it requires to make a craft cocktail you can see how the cost starts to accumulate.

Now don't get me wrong I know not everyone can afford to spend $16 on a craft cocktail, while others would happily pay that time & time again. That is the beauty of creating multiple offerings for your guests, you can create options with different levels of complexity. In doing so you have the ability to achieve more range in pricing and in turn help to make alcohol free options more accessible. Accessible to the sober community, sober curious, and even the sober apprehensive who would never dream of paying high price for something without booze! Yet when it sounds refreshing and is affordable they may just reach for it and fall in love with the notion that they now have options. It is our job to create the spaces and curate the menus that create access to those who desire choice. We now have the power to introduce those who may be yearning for an alternative to alcohol freedom of choice. Choice ranging from alcohol free beers, champagnes & wines to simple & complex craft cocktails. The more accessible a range of alcohol free options are for your guest the quicker the industry will continue to grow. Growth in the alcohol alternative industry will continue to create higher demand for these products and inevitably help to lower overhead costs of small businesses as they scale to meet the growing demand for alcohol alternatives. No one loves feeling like shit after a long night drinking, knowing you can reach for an alcohol free option that fulfills the desire for experience, connection and community is truly priceless. Yet since offering quality craft cocktails does hold a price please also offer a variety of additional options in conjunction with your $16 craft cocktails so that you can truly support your guest in their desire to reach for alcohol free adult beverages.

Together we can support the vast desires of those reaching for alcohol alternatives every time we curate a menu that varies in complexity and range of price.

Cheers, Caylie


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