Low proof

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

This Year’s Big Trend: Moderation

This Year’s Big Trend: Moderation

by David Klemt

Two drinks in mason jars

Beverage-top media platform Ripples is reporting 2022’s big drink trend, focusing heavily on Gen Z imbibing habits.

The unique company produces devices that make it possible to print images atop drinks. With beverages of all types as their focus, the company is a great position to study drink trends.

Interestingly, Ripples focuses primarily on Gen Z drinking habits. However, the company’s data identifies an intriguing trend that transcends a single generation.

Let’s jump in.

Zero-proof Beverage Growth

At KRG Hospitality, we appreciate numbers; we’re a data-driven agency. Well, amongst all the stats Ripples latest findings reveal, two are massive.

First, in comparison to 2019, zero-alcohol products are up 166 percent. Second, the non-alcohol category is growing four times faster than its low-ABV counterpart.

Another impressive number? Non-alcohol spirits have grown by over 113 percent since 2020.

Per Ripples, Gen Z is driving the growth in the no-alcohol space. According to the beverage-tech company, this is likely due to social media presence.

I’m sure you read articles at least from time to time about Gen Z social media habits. Those written by their older counterparts make it seem like Gen Z doesn’t understand the risks of recording their every action.

Well, it’s highly likely that much of Gen Z would rather not have their drunken shenanigans on display on every social platform.

Values Drive Purchase Decisions

Beyond risk aversion, Ripples identifies values as key to Gen Z purchase and consumption decisions.

Generally speaking, members of Gen Z value transparency and authenticity. Brands that share those values are more likely to succeed with Gen Z.

And, again, speaking broadly, smaller, independent brands are often perceived as more transparent, authentic, and responsible. Large, mainstream brands are often seen as anything but green and responsible, never mind transparent or authentic.

Ripples posits that small indies aren’t encountering daunting barriers to entry. So, small-batch, craft non-alcohol brands are apt to find Gen Z support.

Craft sodas, RTDs offering health benefits, and zero-proof cocktails in cans or bottles are flooding the market. And they’re finding success. In fact, according to Ripples, RTD sales are up 400 percent on Drizly since 2019.

The Big Trend

If you’re a listener of our Bar Hacks podcast you’ve likely heard our episodes with David Allison. If you haven’t heard them, they’re episode 46 and episode 67.

As the founder of the Valuegraphics Project, Allison isn’t a fan of focusing on demographic stereotypes. Instead, he recommends a focus on values in conjunction with demographic and psychographic data.

In part, the Valuegraphics Project approach encourages business owners and operators to identify and target their customers’ values. This is, according to Allison, far more powerful than focusing on age and sex. As important is the fact that demographics tend to divide us, and stereotypes are dangerous.

So, he and the Valuegraphics Project team probably wouldn’t like all the focus on a single generation in this article and Ripples’ findings. Well, there’s some good news and it pertains to what’s likely this year’s biggest drinking trend.

Across all generations, one drinking trend is common: Moderation. An interest in no- and low-alcohol beverages is shared among all generations.

In fact, according to Ripples, 78 percent of consumers purchasing zero-proof drinks aren’t doing so exclusively. These consumers are still buying they’re favorite full-alcohol beverages.


Leveraging the moderation trend is fairly simple. The growth of all zero-proof categories means operators can succeed with alcohol-free spirits, beer, and wine.

RTD cocktails—full-, low- and zero-proof—are selling very well and work in restaurants and bars.

In short, ensure you have low-ABV and zero-alcohol versions of your full-ABV drinks on your menu. Include these in a dedicated non-alcohol section.

Operators don’t need to be afraid of guests drinking more moderately. The stereotype that guests who choose zero- or low-proof drinks are bad for the bottom line simply isn’t true.

Image: Chris Curry on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

These engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level beverage skills and motivate you throughout May, 2022.

To review April’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Rum Rebels: A Celebration of Women Revolutionizing the Spirits Industry

Written by authors Martyna Halas and René van Hoven, Rum Rebels raises a glass to women in the rum world. Readers will learn the inspiring stories of Lorena Vasquez from Zacapa, Joy Spence of Appleton, and more women driving rum forward and shaping this iconic spirit’s flavors, aromas, and textures.

In addition, this book serves as a masterclass in rum production, from tasting to aging. And since that’s enough for these incredible and ambitious authors, Rum Rebels also contains rum cocktail recipes.

Drink Lightly: A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails

Operators, bar managers, and bartenders should see value in the driving ethos behind this cocktail book. Drink Lightly, authored by Nitecap bartender Natasha David, pairs precision drink-building techniques with a relaxed drinking experience.

Drinking lightly doesn’t mean sipping drinks bereft of complexity and depth. Along with 100 recipes, readers will enjoy a foreword by Alex Day of Proprietors LLC, whose concepts include Death & Co. and Nitecap.

Call Me Chef, Dammit!: A Veteran’s Journey from the Rural South to the White House

Hospitality is rooted in sacrifice and a commitment to serving others. Chef Andre Rush and his story embody service. Call Me Chef, Dammit! is the inspiring story of Chef Rush.

The storied chef has led an incredible life which includes a career in the US Army that spanned 24 years, advocating for military personnel and veterans, and winning multiple awards as a chef. Oh, and Chef Rush and his 24-inch biceps have also worked in the White House for four US presidents.

While there are no recipes in this book, there is one hell of an inspiring story in these pages.

The New Kindred Spirits: Over 2,000 All-New Reviews of Whiskeys, Brandies, Liqueurs, Gins, Vodkas, Tequilas, Mezcal & Rums from F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal

Anyone looking for a spirits bible need search no further. F. Paul Pacult’s The New Kindred Spirits includes over 2,400 in-depth reviews spanning a wide range of spirits. This tome evaluates a massive number of brandies, gins, liqueurs, rums, tequilas, vodkas, and whiskeys.

This all-encompassing compilation of spirit evaluations doesn’t just cover the usual suspects. The New Kindred Spirits also takes a deep dive into the craft side of the beverage industry.

Drinking & Knowing Things

Author and certified sommelier Michael Amon would like to know a couple things from those considering picking up Drinking & Knowing Things. “Do you want to uncork a bottle of whoop-ass on every winedouche and uppity sommelier?” And, “are you too lazy to spend any time whatsoever learning things?”

Anyone who answered “yes” to either or both questions needs this book. Amon says that readers who commit to spending five minutes reading the weekly wine recommendations found in Drinking & Knowing Things will give sommeliers a run for their wine-knowledge money. Wine intimidation? Not after reading this book.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Moderation Movement: Damp January

Moderation Movement: Damp January

by David Klemt

Cocktail resting on a ledge in front of a window

Move over, Dry January, there’s yet another alternative to “traditional” alcohol consumption at the start of a new year.

As we know, Dry January consists of abstaining from drinking any alcohol for 31 days. Also known by the awkward name Dryuary, this annual practice continues to gain popularity.

However, not everyone is comfortable with this all-or-nothing approach. Instead, there are those who want to try Damp January.

What is It?

You’re likely already guessing how Damp January works. Rather than abstinence, participants practice moderation.

Generally speaking, that’s it—it isn’t a complex concept. However, there are many approaches to Damp January.

Some people set hard limits for themselves. For example, a wine drinker may resolve to only consume three glasses of wine per week. A beer drinker may choose to only have two beers from Monday through Friday.

Another approach is to determine how many full alcohol drinks one consumes on a weekend. Then, they decide to reduce that consumption by 50 or 75 percent.

However one chooses to participate in Damp January, the goal is reduction and moderation.

Is this a Fad?

In a word, no. Whatever label is put on it—moderation, sober curious, reduction—many consumers are looking to drink less alcohol.

Dry January was once seen as a fad. Instead, it’s safe to say it’s much closer to being mainstream.

Of course, time will tell if Damp January will earn as much buy-in as its abstinence-focused counterpart.

However, it’s easy to see how Damp January may become long-term behavior for some consumers.

What Does this Mean for Operators?

There are those who simply want to be more mindful of their alcohol consumption. Their goal isn’t to stop drinking alcohol, it’s to make lifestyle changes and reduce their drinking.

Sift through social media, forum and blog posts, and articles on the subject, and you’ll come across interesting motivations for moderation. In many cases, people point to alcohol playing a role in their social lives.

Of course, that means drinking with friends, coworkers, and family members at restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. They simply want to consume less alcohol per visit.

This doesn’t have to present as a threat to operators. The increasing popularity of alcohol-free beers, zero-proof spirits, and low-ABV options can prove profitable for a restaurant or bar’s bottom line.

Guests who making the decision to not consume alcohol or seek out low-proof options still want to socialize. They still want to visit bars and restaurants. More importantly, they want to feel comfortable in their choice.

So, it’s up to operators to ensure Damp and Dry January guests don’t feel alienated or mocked for reducing or abstaining from drinking. Providing low- and zero-proof drinks—and highlighting them on menus—shows these guests they’re welcome and supported.

Additionally, it’s crucial that these guests receive the same level of service and presentation as other people at your bar or restaurant. A little thought to make sure they’re treated the same will go a long way.

Image: Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

ABV: Does it Have to Be All or Nothing?

ABV: Does it Have to Be All or Nothing?

by David Klemt

Quarter Proof Light Gin bottle and cocktail

In the discussion of alcohol, it seems to be an all-or-nothing topic: spirits and drinks are either full-proof or zero-proof.

Innovations in the space take two paths. There are brands like Seedlip that create alcohol-free spirits using botanicals, herbs and other ingredients. Resulting products are original creations with unique flavor profiles.

Another path is taken by brands such as Lyre’s. Rather than creating entirely new spirits, these producers craft alcohol-free that mimic their full-proof counterparts. For example, Lyre’s vast range includes a zero-proof bourbon and rum.

When it comes to drink builds, things get a little deeper. Yes, the all-or-nothing approach still applies to a point. Obviously, there are standard and high-proof cocktails. And yes, there are alcohol-free, zero-proof cocktails, also known as “mocktails.”

However, there’s also a third approach: low-ABV cocktails. Two popular build techniques are:

  • making low-proof liqueurs and wines the stars in Spritzers and other drinks; and
  • reverse cocktails.

When the conversation around lower-proof cocktails first gained steam, Spritzers, Fizzes and other options were brought to the forefront.

Then came the reverse cocktails, which I’ll explain briefly using a Reverse Martini build:

Let’s say your traditional recipe calls for two ounces of gin, a half-ounce of sweet vermouth (we can fight about this some other time), and a dash of orange bitters. To build the Reverse Martini, half the gin, quadruple the sweet vermouth, and keep the bitters the same.

Crafting reverse cocktails isn’t an overly complex process. But what if there was a third entry in the full-proof versus zero-proof battle?

Quarter Proof

It turns out, there is another path those seeking to consume lower-proof cocktails can take.

As the brand Quarter Proof says (or asks), “Who said it had to be all or nothing?” As the name implies, this brand intends to craft spirits that ring in at a quarter of the proof of their traditional counterparts.


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The brand’s first product, G/N, is produced in the same manner as full-proof gin: copper pot distillation. Like traditional gin, G/N is made with juniper berries.

However, because the resulting liquid is just 12-percent ABV and not 37.5 percent, European law says it can’t be designated “gin.” So, Quarter Proof got creative with the name.

Quarter Proof G/N is like a full-proof London Dry Gin in every way—aroma, flavor profile, mouthfeel, finish—save alcohol content. Along with juniper berry, expect coriander, sweet orange, and grapefruit on the nose and palate.

This is an intriguing development in the world of spirits and I’m eager to see what Quarter Proof crafts next. “Light spirits” produced to deliver the full drinking experience with moderation from the ground up are a compelling option.

Image: Quarter Proof

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Reverse Cocktails for Lower ABV Sips

Reverse Cocktails for Lower ABV Sips

by David Klemt

Straining a cocktail into a rocks glass over ice cubes

A simple and creative way to add low-proof drinks to a menu is to offer reverse cocktails.

As a concept, reverse cocktails are simple to understand. However, they’re also a great way to engage the bar team.

Better still, they offer guests looking to enjoy less-spirited drinks a real cocktail experience.

What’s a Reverse Cocktail?

Essentially, a reverse cocktail is exactly what it sounds like. Let’s use the classic Martini as an example.

Say your classic recipe calls for two ounces of gin, a half-ounce of sweet vermouth, and a dash of orange bitters. To build the Reverse Martini, half the gin, quadruple the sweet vermouth, and keep the bitters the same.

That’s a quick and dirty example. You and your bar team will want to play with your recipes—different vermouths and gins will deliver differing results.

Vermouths, amaros, and low-proof aperitifs are ideal for building reverse cocktails and expanding your cocktail program.

What’s the Point?

Reverse cocktails lower the ABV in comparison to their standard, boozier counterparts.

Michael Toscano, Woodford Reserve brand ambassador and Bar Hacks podcast guest, thinks many people are looking to slow down their alcohol intake. Home bartenders, if reports are accurate, have been pouring spirits generously during the pandemic. When they get out, they may be after lower-proof sips.

A reverse cocktail is a creative solution to enjoying cocktails in a new way with less alcohol.

Of course, they also offer operators a new guest experience. A menu section with the title “Reverse Cocktails” is likely to spark some guest interest and questions. Also, such drinks are a great way to refresh drink menus and move some inventory.

There’s also the fact that reverse cocktails give guests seeking low-ABV sips the full cocktail experience—there’s no risk of alienating them.

Image: Adam Jaime on Unsplash