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Inside the Growing Zero-Proof Cocktail Movement — How to Make Sure All Your Holiday Guests Enjoy Their Drinks

A Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Cart Should be an Option at Every Party

BY // 12.09.22

In case you haven’t heard, the zero-proof movement is well underway in a real way. Not long ago, non-alcoholic drinks were a complete afterthought for the hospitality industry (with a couple of mocktails thrown onto the end of a cocktail menu — maybe). And a glaring oversight for hosts and hostesses who iced down a few sodas, just in case for the rare “non-drinkers” at their parties.

Well, all that has changed in recent years, and what better time to explore the growing trend more fully as holiday parties get into full swing?

Fort Worth-based PR pro Beth Hutson, the founder of Elevated Content Co., tells PaperCity that in her professional life “alcohol was always around.” Especially with her agency representing so many food and beverage brands over the years. But now Hutson is also the face of The Elevated Elixir. She started it in 2019 to get the conversation about an alcohol-free lifestyle going, spotlighting her own favorite zero-proof brands and concocting her own cocktail recipes. Sans the booze.

When her husband Brian quit drinking a decade prior to her own lifestyle shift, Beth Hutson quickly learned a party truth. “We noticed it was hard being social and found non-alcoholic drinks were an afterthought,” she says. “Yet it seemed every social situation revolved around alcohol.

“I liked the way a fine wine or a craft cocktail tasted, but I found I didn’t like the effects.”

A coupe glass and a splash of Abstinence Cape Floral non-alcoholic spirit is the life of the party. Photo by Brian Hutson, The Elevated Elixir.
A coupe of glasses and a splash of Abstinence Cape Floral non-alcoholic spirit can be the life of the party. (Photo by Brian Hutson, The Elevated Elixir)

Since Hutson made the change, she’s realized that the zero-proof lifestyle is more than a passing trend. It’s a cultural shift. According to Gallup, about 40 percent of adults in America now choose not to drink.

“I think, especially post-pandemic, a lot of people are re-evaluating their relationship to alcohol,” Beth Hudson says. “Many are opting to become moderators (a term for those who only drink on special occasions or weekends). While others (including an increasing number of millennials and Gen Z) are looking for a new way to connect and alcohol is losing its luster.”

Since launching The Elevated Elixir, Hutson has been introduced to an array of new artisanal and independent brands that are filling the void — and cocktail glasses — with sophisticated and flavorful non-alcoholic options. These include everything from zero-proof wines to bitters and syrups.

It all adds to the growing conversation around mindful drinking. Hudson notes that “fellowship and relaxation don’t require alcohol.”

There is even a newly emerging segment of drinks which are fortified with adaptogens. Including some with real star power  behind them, including Bella Hadid with her Kin Euphorics, Katy Perry with her botanical De Soi and Blake Lively’s sparkling Betty Buzz line of non-alcoholic mixers.

It seems that almost everyone is hopping aboard the zero-proof train.

How To Put Together A Zero-Proof Bar Cart

This holiday season is the perfect time to belly up to the bar and stock it for a new breed of party-goer ― those who drink alcohol and those who do not.

The idea of hospitality means it’s really incumbent on you as the host to be sure all your guests feel at home. Even if they don’t choose to reach for an alcoholic drink. Their reasons can range from religion or personal health to their responsibility as a designated driver. No one needs to make an excuse for not drinking. That’s the whole point of the zero-proof movement.

Non drinkers just want to partake in the conversation and enjoy the social experience too. It’s really your job as a host or hostess to set up proper zero-proof bar options too in order to make a party truly inclusive.

A well-stocked zero-proof bar cart assures that all your guests can socialize in the spirit of the season. The barware and barcart here come from one of Beth Hutson's favorite collaborators Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams Clearfork location. (Photo by Brian Hutson, The Elevate Elixir)
A well-stocked zero-proof bar cart assures that all your guests can socialize in the spirit of the season. The barware and barcart here come from one of Beth Hutson’s favorite collaborators Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams Clearfork location. (Photo by Brian Hutson, The Elevate Elixir)

Beth Hutson stocks her zero-proof bar cart by laying out a number of options for guests who are choosing to abstain. From simple agave-based mules and sparkling wine spritzers to a classic Manhattan, plus botanical and hemp-based elixirs.

Here are a few of her zero-proof favorites to consider:

Prima Pave – Blanc de Blancs

Avec Premium Mixer – Hibiscus and Pomegranate

Spiritless – Kentucky 74

Spiritless – Horse’s Kick Ginger Syrup

All The Bitter – Alcohol-Free Orange Bitters

The Pathfinder – Hemp and Root, Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirit

Spiritless – Jalisco 55

Abstinence – Cape Floral Non-Alcoholic Spirit

Beth Hutson staged all the photos for this article and her photographer husband Brian Hutson shot them, because that’s what they do in their jobs. All the beautiful barware and the brass bar cart come from one of Hutson’s favorite collaborators Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams’ Clearfork store.

With a bit of planning, every host can lay out a splendid array of non-alcoholic beverage options to suit any party occasion.

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