Are you ‘Sober Curious’? Dry January might be looking to overstay as more and more people experiment with their ‘alcohol’ orientations. Non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits sales are soaring across the globe with menus and store shelves showing-off more options than ever. Industry analysts are forecasting that worldwide sales could double to somewhere around $40B in ten years. Gen Z and Millennials are embracing the trend and downplaying hard earned Gen X accomplishments and bad decisions that most often started with the phrase: “Hold my beer.” New purveyors of better after hours decision-making are starting to make their retail mark. Bevees, a new booze-free retail shop in the Tri-Cities in BC, offers ‘all the delight, none of the drunk’. The region’s first and only, shoppers can also visit the back bar to enjoy a mocktail in a boutique brasserie setting that would fool any Instagram feed.
My bartender Gavin, a talented Millenial Mixologist, pours me a brilliantly built Manhattan made of aged whiskey, a smoky botanical of orange and cardamon with reishi mushroom, dash of aromatic bitters and twist of orange. Like the coaster in front of me promises in bold font, it is absolutely sweet AF (ahem…meaning alcohol free). With my head tilted back and nose already buried in melting ice cubes, Gavin tells me the bar is getting busier all the time. Some are certainly ‘sober curious’ but most he says are younger locals looking to socialize, connect and make their own buzz. Favoring DIY good times couldn’t have come at a worse time for mainstream retailers and producers wrestling with worsening climate change impacts on crops and rising supply chain costs . But it’s waning demand that's caught the industry off guard. Globally, wine production is at its lowest in 30 years, while here in Canada, beer and wine sales by volume are seeing historic declines according to StatsCan. Wanderlust experts at National Geographic Travel are starting to cover sober tourism as a main beat, or at least, a standard offer to write about as sober tour companies cash-in on the lifestyle switch.