Good Drinks: non-alcoholic cocktails get their second on the craft scene | Food and drinks
J.ulia Bainbridge was very thoughtful in choosing the title of her upcoming book, Good Drinks: Non-Alcoholic Recipes, if for some reason you don’t drink. Non-alcoholic cocktails go by many names – mocktails, zero-proof, or alcohol-free drinks – and stakeholders cannot agree on a name for the category. Bainbridge, a former editor at Bon Appétit, simply wanted her book to be a resource for anyone interested in the subject, while shedding light on a category neglected in the craft cocktail scene.
“I somehow got around this conversation by calling them drinks. Drinks that are underrepresented and potentially serve underrepresented populations that make it look like a party, ”says Bainbridge.
At first, Bainbridge was reluctant to call anything a “bogus” version of a classic cocktail. She finally came over – – This is an example Pimm’s Crown by Rob Brouse of Acadia in Chicago, Illinois – – because it can help recreate some of the experience of classic drinks. “There’s the alcohol factor, but remove that and see if you can strike a balance between work and bitterness or whatever. I believe we can use information from the world of alcoholic beverages in this area. “
To write good drinks, Bainbridge drove across the United States, from New York City to Bloomington, Indiana, to Portland, Oregon. Since she was looking for drinks that she really wanted to have in bars and restaurants, she decided to reach bartenders and cocktail professionals whose job it is to “prepare good, balanced drinks – regardless of the alcohol content”. That meant spending a few days on-site at Death & Co’s Denver location learning how kefir whey can add body to a drink, or in the Los Angeles kitchen of author Gabriella Mlynarczyk to learn about her love for everyone to experience aromatic things.
Julia Bainbridge, author of Good Drinks. Photo: Theodore Samuels Studio
In California, she tried drinks made from umeboshi vinegar and tomato water, while in Missouri she tried the Shiso Spritz, a tea made from Shiso leaves, a syrup made from melon peel that forms a pink-brown mixture that, when added, makes a rich magenta Citric acid.
Bainbridge’s timing is spot on. The category of non-alcoholic beverages has seen significant growth in recent years. Nielsen named low and non-alcoholic options as the top alcohol trend for 2020. Bainbridge believes the growth is coming from several factors, including Americans increasingly waking up to some of the dangers of alcohol and the fact that consumers are increasingly focused on wellbeing – including sugar and calorie consumption – but also the mental health issues associated with regular drinking. “The stigma since our parents’ generation [surrounding mental health] has lost weight, ”said Bainbridge. “I think people are aware of how alcohol affects their mental health and they may want to moderate for that reason too.”
Millennials and Gen Z’ers are also involved in world events and the fear they bring with them in ways that previous generations have never done before – which may add to the growing trend to drink less. “I think they are looking for ways to find a balance in today’s global uncertainty. Alcohol is also expensive, and the percentage of millennials with zero dollar savings is increasing. At this point, we have not yet accumulated the wealth that our predecessors had. And now, with Covid and the economic crisis that followed, that’s all the more accurate. “
During this spring’s lockdown, she heard from many people who used that time to explore how they could not drink for long periods of time. She believes it was the perfect time to try it, “because there is no social pressure to deal with, right, because there is no socializing!”
Bainbridge, who currently doesn’t drink alcohol, does not write about her relationship with it in the book for several reasons, including a desire that it be a resource for more than just sober people. “It’s not that I’m ashamed of having a complicated relationship with alcohol. I just didn’t think it had to be here because it’s not a book exclusively for sober people. It is a celebration of all these delicious things for people who want it, and there are many people who want it for various reasons. “
She found that her own drinking was a problem that she put an end to, but she wants others to be free to define what is a problem for her. “Alcohol has had a negative impact on my life. I didn’t make the same decisions about drinking that I would like to have in my sober life. I have definitely abused this substance for a long time and removing it was important to my health and happiness. “
She’s not an anti-alcohol fan – she just wants the drinkers to realize that there’s a whole unexplored world out there. “This book just celebrates all the delicious things there are to drink that have no alcohol for those who don’t drink it, may it be tonight, this month, whenever, for this round, whatever.”