Non-alcoholic drinks: Making money from mocktails with Tony Conigliaro

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In the third part of our special feature on non-alcoholic drinks, BigHospitality sat down with leading mixologist and bar owner Tony Conigliaro for an exclusive video on how to make money from mocktails and to discover some current trends and practical tips and recipes for alcohol-free cocktails. 

As we have already discovered in this series of articles, there is arguably no better time to push drinks without alcohol. Alcohol duty, changing drinking habits and the growth of brands and retail outlets focusing on premium hot beverages and soft drinks have all had an impact on the hospitality industry.

However one area which has arguably not seen the same growth is non-alcoholic cocktails - guests looking for a pre-dinner drink in a restaurant or for something to sip in a bar while their friends enjoy a boozy tipple are often left with the choice of fruit juice or soda water.

So is there money to be made from so-called mocktails or has the fad for the sickly sweet drink which that term implies been and gone?

Mark-up

"There is always a need for non-alcoholic cocktails," said Conigliaro when BigHospitality met him earlier this month at his famous 69 Colebrooke Row bar. "Some people don't drink, some people can't drink and some people shouldn't drink.

"It is important that you have that offering because for those three kinds of people it is very boring otherwise. There is obviously a mark-up, we run a business after all, but it is obviously not as big as the alcoholic mark-up - but it is still there," he explained.

Savoury

While presenting two recipes for booze-free cocktails which he said operators could see success with in their businesses, Conigliaro revealed people often made non-alcoholic cocktails too sweet.

Instead, he suggested, restaurateurs and bar owners should treat them in the same way they treat alcoholic drinks - consider the balance and flavour profile and think about matching it with food.

"Usually a lot of the other offerings you get are too sweet or too much to have more than one of. We have been working on a very specific non-alcoholic cocktail for Bruno Loubet's new restaurant and that is very savoury and is paired with the food.

"If someone is eating then they don't want lots of sugary stuff in between. We do flavoured waters occasionally - things that go all the way through the meal, almost like a non-alcoholic wine," he said.

Check out Tony Conigliaro's recipes for a non-alcoholic mojito and an absinthe-flavoured, soda water-based cocktail by watching the video above. For all the articles in our non-alcoholic drinks feature, click here.

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