The case for non-alcohol beverages and how restaurants need to improve their offerings

Earlier this month, for the second time this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa introduced a ban on the sale of liquor to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Ramaphosa said the alcohol ban would take the pressure off the national healthcare system.

On June 29, for the first time since the start of the country’s national lockdown four months ago, restaurants reopened for sit-down meals. However, they were not allowed to sell alcoholic drinks with sit-down meals.

In this article, we look at the case of non-alcoholic beverages and how restaurants need to improve their offerings, especially now that the ban looks like it’s not going away anytime soon.

Mixologist, owner of Copper Monkey and winner of Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2018, George Hunter said low ABV or even non-alcoholic drinks have been a steadily growing trend for the past two or so years.

Hunter said he has been seeing more and more restaurants offering better quality and more thought-out mocktails.

“With the current prohibition on alcohol, it goes without saying that it is a good time to offer great non-alcoholic drinks. Looking past the current prohibition people are consciously more aware of their health, so yes now is a great time to launch great non-alcoholic drinks.

“Alcohol-free beverages can be made more interesting by firstly using fresh good quality ingredients. I would suggest people start playing with various techniques to enhance flavours.

“Techniques such as fermentation, carbonation, foams, gels, and of course syrups. That way they could experience a wide variety of flavour profiles and textures with fruits and vegetables they are already familiar with,” he said.

Asked which de-alcoholised drinks people can have with their food, S.Pellegrino Young Chef in Africa and Middle East 2019 winner, Paul Thinus Prinsloo said it depends on what food that person is eating.

“If you go towards poultry, you will generally have something fresh with the flavours; something that will refresh the palate so that you can get that sensation of the flavours every time. If you get your hands on seafood and de-alcoholised bubbly, that would be awesome,” he said.

It’s a good idea for restaurants to start doing kombucha or ferments that do not have any alcohol in them.

“I would say it’s quite easy to do. There’s plenty of non-alcoholic beer also that can be served with red meat, or with any sort of meat or poultry – it all just depends on the flavour of the beverage that will work with the actual food,” Prinsloo suggested.

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