What Are We Drinking These Days?

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Story by Dave Eckert   /   Intro photo courtesy of Bamboo Penny’s

I’m always entertained by beverage trends in the U.S. Americans are so quick to jump on a bandwagon, even if we don’t know where the bandwagon’s heading or when we’ll be hopping off. From all I’ve read and everyone in the know I’ve talked to, the number one beverage trend in recent years is beverages that are good for us-so-called “health and wellness beverages.” 

Photo courtesy of The Brewkery

Let me start with one that’s having a minute – kombucha.

Amy Goldman, co-owner of The Brewkery, producers of Lucky Elixir Kombucha, says the health benefits of kombucha were, and still are, a major motivator for her personally and for the business. “We loved that it was fermented, but non-alcoholic. Knowing the health benefits of fermented foods could carry over into beverages was great because there are so many unhealthy drinks on the market, especially in the ready-to-drink market,” Goldman shared.

Goldman says she has experienced personal health benefits from kombucha consumption. “It has boosted my immune system in a big way. Not only is it a beneficial drink, but it tastes great.” 

Photo courtesy of The Roasterie

Next up, coffee. Yep, it seems that good ole’ cup of Joe is actually good for you. For insights into that, I reached out to The Roasterie, now part of the FairWave Specialty Coffee Collective. “Coffee is full of antioxidants and has been proven to improve long-term memory and decrease the risk of diseases such as cancer and Parkinson’s. Appreciation usually falls toward the obvious, which for me is simple. I love the way that coffee connects me to the world,” Joe Marrocco, VP of Coffee Sourcing and Product Development shared. Marrocco continued, “Coffee has been integral in bringing people together for centuries. Many of the deepest conversations and biggest adventures have been over a cup of coffee. Working in this industry has taken me to far flung places like Brazil, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya. My horizons have been widened through this humble drink. My life is enriched, and my health is affirmed through that enrichment.”

Finally, there’s alcohol. Wait, no one is saying drinking booze is good for you, right? Wrong, that’s exactly what Web MD says-listing the following benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.

  • Helps Your Heart
  • Gets You More Active
  • Prevents Kidney Stones
  • Makes You More Social
  • Gives Your Sex Life A Boost
  • Helps Your Brain
  • Balances Blood Sugar

Beyond those, or perhaps in addition to those benefits, there’s a group in the alcohol world that is big and growing bigger – consumers looking for no and low-alcohol versions of their favorite cocktails. James Beard nominee Jay Sanders, owner of Drastic Measures cocktail bar, noticed the trend and is cashing in on it, opening Wild Child, a bar dedicated to no alcohol and low ABV cocktails. “It was definitely Covid that caused this movement to explode, and it hasn’t slowed since,” Sanders noted.

So much so, in fact, that Sanders has sunk substantial capital into equipment that will help him produce better-tasting non-alcohol and low-alcohol cocktails. “We have a rotary evaporator that allows us to strip the alcohol out of the spirits, which means we still have the taste and basic essence of the spirit itself rather than trying to create something that would replicate it,” Sanders told me. Clearly, Sanders believes this trend is here to stay, and beyond that, will continue to grow.

Photo courtesy of Bamboo Penny’s

Finally, Jenn Tosatto, another of our city’s many talented mixologists, currently plying her trade at Bamboo Penny’s and Aqua Penny’s   restaurants in Leawood, weighed in with these thoughts. “The desire for no alcohol and low abv drinks has always been here. Earlier in my career it seemed like I was only making these for people who wanted to drink, but could not for various reasons (antibiotics, pregnancy, etc.) More recently, I’d say in the last ten years or so, I see many more people choosing not to drink or limit drinking simply because they want to. And I think that is great!” Tosatto said.

Like Sanders, Tosatto says that trend isn’t just growing, it’s exploding. And, like Sanders, Tosatto sees no slowing of the movement. “Our N/A programs are not an afterthought. They are curated with the same care and use the same quality of ingredients as our cocktails. Our goal is for anyone choosing not to drink alcohol to feel just as wonderfully taken care of as anyone who is. We don’t want anyone to feel left out like those of us before the category really began getting noticed,” Tosatto shared.

Great information one and all! Thanks, and a big non-alcoholic cheers to everyone!

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