top of page

Stirring Up a Restaurant Revolution: Tapping into the No and Low-Alcoholic Beverages Market

Alcoholic beverages have played a starring role in the dining experience since the beginning of time, helping to celebrate life’s moments, cement business deals, and toast new friendships. More recently, however, no and low-alcohol (AKA No-Low) counterparts have been picking up momentum as a growing number of consumers begin to embrace a more moderate, sober-conscious lifestyle.

From beer and wine to spirits and seltzers, alcohol is taking a backseat to health and price considerations as consumers are readjusting their priorities. In fact, one in five Americans is choosing reduced alcoholic beverages in an effort to make healthier choices.

This shift in consumer behavior has fueled massive growth in the low and no-alcohol industries, beckoning new brands and drumming up exciting category innovation in longstanding ones. According to Forbes, as many as 55% of consumers reported drinking nonalcoholic beverages, like zero-proof cocktails and nonalcoholic seltzers, at least two to three times a week. And this category is expected to increase by 31% in 2023, suggesting that this is a trend that’s skyrocketing.

For restaurants, the non-alcoholic beverage movement can be one of the most profitable ventures on the menu, bar none. By labeling a drink a “mocktail,” and charging a premium, restaurants can boost their bottom line from just non-alcoholic beverages alone.

Low-Alcohol, Reduced-Alcohol, and Alcohol-Free Drinks: What’s the Difference

An alcoholic beverage is a mood-altering drink that contains ethanol and is produced by the fermentation of grains, fruits, or other sources of sugar. If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between alcohol-free, non-alcoholic and reduced-alcohol drinks, you are not alone. Here’s the breakdown.

The definition of low-alcoholic drinks varies by country, but in the US, the term “low-alcohol” refers to drinks that have an alcoholic strength by volume (ABV) of between 0.05 and 1.2%, whereas “reduced alcohol,” a slightly more ambiguous determination, simply means a drink has an alcohol content lower than the average strength of a particular type of drink.

An alcohol-free or non-alcoholic drink, also known as a temperance drink, is a version of an alcoholic beverage made without alcohol or with the alcohol removed or reduced to almost zero. These may take the form of a non-alcoholic mixed drink (a "virgin drink"), non-alcoholic beer ("near beer"), and "mocktails.”

In the US, the terms “low-alcohol” or “reduced alcohol” may be used only on malt beverages containing less than 2.5% alcohol by volume. For malt beverages to be considered “non-alcoholic” or alcohol-free, the product must contain less than 0.5% (or .5%) alcohol by volume. Source - U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, TITLE 27, PART 7—LABELING AND ADVERTISING OF MALT BEVERAGES, Subpart E §7.65 Alcohol content.

Stats to consider

  • Commanding a 92% share of the total No-Low alcohol segment, No-Low beer and cider dominates the category.

  • 58% of consumers drink No-Low and full-strength alcohol on the same occasion

  • 14% of consumers do not drink alcohol at all.

  • 42% of consumers state that health is the top priority for decreasing or eliminating alcohol from their diet

  • 44% of male consumers choose to reduce alcohol consumption for health reasons

  • 39% of females choose to reduce alcohol consumption for health reasons

  • 64% of consumers report that the most popular occasion to consume no-low products is when relaxing at home.

  • 41% of consumers are reducing their alcohol consumption to save money.

  • No-low beer accounts for over 80% of the total global no-low beverage market.

  • The number of global nonalcoholic beers grew 166% from 2016 to 2020.

  • 47% of consumers under 35 agree that mocktails are just as good as cocktails.

Why people are choosing to go low on alcohol

A movement known as “sober curious,” the sans-alcohol revolution is growing increasingly popular across America. As an extension of the wellness movement, people may choose lower or alcohol-free drinks for a number of personal reasons, including health, pregnancy, issues with addiction, weight, financial, and social reasons.

As consumers become more health conscious, cutting calories and reducing sugar intake, it’s no surprise that health is the leading cause for consumers to reduce their consumption of alcohol, with 42% of consumers pointing to health as their top priority.

Affordability is another factor on the list of priorities, with 41% of consumers reporting that saving money is their reason for reducing their consumption of alcohol. Because alcohol is viewed as a non-essential category, when purse strings get tight, alcohol is one of the first items to be eliminated from the food budget.

Flavor and functionality are two other leading factors driving the non-alcoholic beverage revolution. As consumers become more health-conscious, nonalcoholic beverages that maximize quality functionality, with a focus on overall wellness and specific health concerns, are expected to be a growing segment of the beverage market as the middle of the decade approaches. Innovative alcohol alternatives like kombucha-based and CBD-infused no-/low-alcohol beverages are expected to be among the emerging trends in the no-low beverage market.

Trending No-Low Alcoholic Beverages for 2023

No-Low Beer

Non-alcoholic beer has been a market fixture for years, but the excitement surrounding the rapid growth of the craft segment is catapulting this industry into the stratosphere. As the leading segment in the global no-low alcohol category, the craft beer craft space is home to a considerable number of no-low beer innovations, especially when it comes to flavor and variety.


Often taking a backseat to beer, the NOLO wine industry has begun evolving rapidly. Major brands are releasing no- and low-alcohol labels, new brands are popping up daily, and wine-adjacent offerings are expanding the category’s boundaries.

With the growing trend of moderation and healthy living, the no-low alcohol wine category, which first started to grow in Europe and Asia, has reached the US border with new brands being introduced on a weekly basis.

Like the rest of the no-lo world, the development of many new no-lo brands, like Eins Zwei Zero Riesling, Stella Rosa Peach, Kim Crawford Illuminate, and Cupcake Lighthearted, came from a response to impressive sales growth in other segments of the no-lo category.

Demographics might also be at play with younger consumers (Gen Zers and Millennials) drinking less alcohol and many older Millennials moving into the “adulting” phase of life with children and busy careers. For this group, instead of eliminating alcohol together, they just want to reduce the amount they consume. And as the Baby Boomer generation, age and medical concerns are causing a demand for no-lo wine options.

But unlike the other segments of the no-lo category, the no-lo wine business has its challenges, with taste being at the top of the list. Many wine connoisseurs shy away from the sweeter style zero-alcohol wines and opt for the low-alcohol wines, ranging from 0.5% to 10%, that have a lighter mouthfeel.


The spirits segment is also growing with zero-proof spirits that feature delicious combinations of botanicals, herbs, and spices or flavors reminiscent of a traditional spirit, such as coconut rum or cinnamon whiskey, becoming popular favorites, especially among younger consumers.

A pioneer in this area is Seedlip, founded in 2015 when the market was just starting to get tapped. When the company first launched its products, less than 1% of restaurants and bars would even consider carrying the product, but in 2022, there are supermarket shelves dedicated to no and low-alcohol options, bar menus dedicated to it, and hundreds of new brands popping up every day.

Ritual Zero Proof takes a different approach to crafting its spirits, offering the taste of gin, whiskey, and tequila—without the alcohol or calories.

Because many flavors, aromas, and production processes used to create nonalcoholic spirits are similar to those used in traditional alcoholic versions, enticing customers to give these new menu options with one or two new additions to your menu at a time can be seamless.


The food service industry is sparking a lot of awareness and excitement surrounding the low/no alcohol trend, with mocktails increasingly appearing on the menu at restaurants across the nation.

Mocktails have been a thriving trend for years due to consumer interest in health and wellness and the growing ‘mindful drinking’ movement.

No-Low Beverages Making a Splash in Restaurants Everywhere

With non-alcoholic beverages stirring up consumer passion, savvy restaurants are making room behind the bar with chef-driven, nonalcoholic menus popping up throughout the US.

In New York City, booze-less spots like Listen Bar and Getaway are creating new opportunities to gather and socialize with friends without alcohol.

Sans Bar in Austin, Texas, is another testament to the new sober movement. When owner Chris Marshall launched his first monthly popup, the Sans Bar, in 2017, it was in response to creating a space for people choosing a non-alcoholic lifestyle to gather. Marshall opened Sans Bar to stop people from feeling like they’re being punished for making healthy choices.

In Nashville, Audrey puts seasonal produce at the center of its non-alcoholic beverage story. With one menu featuring both spirited drinks and zero-proof beverages, customers can have the same experience whether they decide to drink alcohol or not.

At Oxalis in New York City, the nonalcoholic menu grew out of necessity when its liquor license was delayed. The restaurant created chronicle acid powders which can impart a wine’s structure and complexity to a nonalcoholic beverage.

The success of non-alcoholic menus at restaurants like these is proving that eliminating alcohol, playing with textures and flavors, experimenting with recipe concoctions, and creating presentations suitable for the experience is at the heart of the no-low revolution.

When you think of a cocktail as being a delivery mechanism for alcohol, nonalcoholic drinks deliver the taste and experience customers seek when dining out.

How Restaurants Can Incorporate Booze-less Beverages

If you’re just beginning to tap into the booze-less beverage boom or if you’re looking to expand your existing menu, here are a few tips to help you get started.

Train your crew. Provide your staff with a list of ingredients, explain any unusual or exotic ingredients, demonstrate how the drink is prepared, and offer a tasting experience.

Host private taste testing. Hold a private after-hours no-low wine, beer, and mocktail-tasting event for your loyal customers and staff. Send private evites to keep the number of attendees limited. Then ask each attendee to participate in a survey. Ask which drinks they most prefer and would order themselves and then ask them to name their price by giving them a few options. Finally, use this valuable data to reimage your beverage menu.

Be creative. Don’t be afraid to cross-utilize ingredients. Experiment with low-cost add-ons and mixes like:

  • Herb-based savory sodas

  • Watermelon-infused seltzer

  • Lime and cucumber water

  • Hibiscus fizzy tea

  • Electrolyte mocktails

  • Virgin martinis

Use ingredients on hand. Instead of adding new items to your inventory, save space and money by reimagining the same ingredients you use for bar drinks to create mocktails. The same ginger syrup you use for sidecar variations on alcoholic drinks, for example, could work just as well in a non-alcoholic mule.

Update your online menu. Whether you decide to test your new beverage menu options in your dining room first or want to take the leap of offering no-low beverages to your off-premise customers right away, adding non-alcoholic options to your delivery menu is a great way to pique customer excitement as the holidays approach.

And the good news is, regardless of what state you live in, there are no regulations preventing you from delivering beverages with zero alcohol.

Start now by creating flavorful and colorful recipes and finding innovative packaging that dresses up your seasonal cocktails for catering and holiday delivery orders.

Actively engaging and paying attention to your customer’s chosen lifestyles, changing tastes, and industry trends are key factors for restaurants to succeed, and in 2023, the rise of the no-low alcohol movement is one that shouldn’t be ignored.

If your restaurant has yet to tap into this burgeoning market, experiment with one or two mocktails or zero alcoholic malts. If you find your customers are receptive, add some more. Like everything else in the food game, it’s all about consumer preferences, so experiment, get creative, and don’t be afraid to jump into the No-Low Alcoholic Beverage pool that’s making a splash across the nation.

By Eileen Strauss


Thanks for subscribing!

Get a Taste of Our Secret Sauce
Stay up to date with the latest restaurant delivery news

Bringing in






Driving Repeat Business

Making Delivery Work

*Sauce recovers over 98% of restaurant delivery refund claims.

Commission Free Direct Delivery

Access To Unlimited Supply Of Delivery Drivers

Live Mobile Order Tracking

Live Delivery Support

Refund Reconciliation Management

Virtual Telephone Answering

Feedback Collection & Management


bottom of page