Drink Different with Mocktails Uniquely Crafted®

Embrace Mindful Drinking with Mixology Inspired, Non-alcoholic Cocktails

An in the Mix Promotional Interview

Photo courtesy of Mocktails Uniquely Crafted®

One of the first low/no alcoholic beverage companies to emerge in the now explosive category, Mocktails Uniquely Crafted® is the world’s most award-winning, non-alcoholic, ready-to-serve, premium cocktail brand. We all recognize operators need solutions and Mocktails Uniquely Crafted®  helps improve quality, speed and consistency, while reducing training time and waste, driving higher revenues at a lower total cost.

With incredible devotion, a passion for the best quality, and a refusal to compromise on flavor, Mocktails has worked in close collaboration with industry leading mixologist, Ezra Star, to develop a uniquely crafted portfolio of five flavors inspired by classic cocktails – all in the bid to create top quality non-alcoholic cocktails for the premium on and off-trade.

Their award-winning lineup of nitro-charged cans, a first in packaging innovation for NA beverages, was created to empower inclusivity, wellness, and positivity so that everyone can drink socially without compromise.

In this exclusive in the Mix roundtable interview, Mocktails Uniquely Crafted® Founder & CEO, Bill Gamelli, and Director of Global Beverage Operations, Ash Massadeh, are joined by IMI Agency President, Larry McGinn, to explore the evolving landscape of non-alcoholic adult beverages and the cultural shift toward mindful consumption amongst consumers.

Larry McGinn: Welcome Bill and Ash and thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. Bill, you’ve seen a dynamic shift in US consumer attitudes towards the alcohol-free category as non-alcoholic beverages continue to steam in the market. Industry pundits think that this is going to be the next category to explode. You were among the first thought leaders in this arena, can you talk a little bit about the inspiration and potential you saw that pushed you to develop Mocktails Uniquely Crafted®?

Bill Gamelli: Absolutely. A quick background, I’m the Founder and CEO of Mocktail Beverages Inc. and Co-founder of the Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverage Association (ANBA),a global trade organization for the NA sector. It was Athletic Brewing, Lyre’s, and us who actually came together to form ANBA. We now have a full board of directors in both the US and UK with lots of incredible brands. From an inspiration point of view, this started way before there was an industry or thought about this from the point of view of the trade.

When my wife and I graduated school, I went into real estate and then Wall Street. Tracy went to law school and became an attorney at a law firm, and we did all the normal things young couples do. We went to wine country in France, had cocktail parties, and we often attended business events where there were all forms of beer, wine, spirits, cocktails, etc.

When we started to think about having children, life changed dramatically for us. While we were both trying to start a family, she was also working to become a partner in her law firm and back then there were no women law partners in her firm or any of her friends’ firms who worked and had children, so the glass ceiling was very real.

She would attend work gatherings and when she was not drinking alcohol someone or several people would ask her, “Is everything okay?” “Why aren’t you drinking?” “Why don’t you loosen up, have fun, let’s bring it to the bar.”

So, the inspiration came from my wife. I wanted to solve this problem for her and others who face this issue. I searched around the globe, and I could not find any products in existence that could bridge the gap. You had your normal sodas, waters, lemonades, iced teas, but no actual alternatives.

My two friends and I, both of which also found themselves experiencing the same issue as my wife and I, created Mocktails Uniquely Crafted® to be a very different type of company. From the very beginning we were all about creating a solution for occasions where both drinkers and non-drinkers could be together while enjoying the same drink in the same glassware at the same time.

LM: Ash, you saw great potential when you came across Bill and the Mocktails team early on as an operator in the industry. What was it about them that sparked your passion for this brand?

Ash Massadeh: I’ve been in this industry for 26 years and I’ve had my own business for the past 22. I’ve seen and dealt with the ups and downs in the hospitality market, especially when it comes to drinking and socializing. When Mocktails Uniquely Crafted® came along, it was a light bulb moment for me because I had finally found somebody armed with a solution that could save me time, product waste, and so much more which was a great thing for my business as a whole.

Photo courtesy of Mocktails Uniquely Crafted®

LM: How did you see your guest accepting not only Mocktails as a solution to running your operation, but as an alternative to the alcohol scene?

AM: The NA category as a whole has come a long way in both Europe and the US. Within the last five years it has come massively upfront of everything else, even amongst those who drink. Being established in hospitality and bars and restaurants, people would gather to meet up for a drink after work or for special occasions and events but options for non-drinkers were limited.

We had sodas, sugary drinks, and canned products, which as a premium place that wants to serve the right drinks, was not giving the right effect for our customers. As soon as Mocktails came along, we finally had better options for customers to choose from.

I brought in all five flavors and used them to create eight to ten extended mocktail recipes and 13 different cocktails that I could place on my beverage menu. Mocktails basically made the cocktail for me and elevated the creativity of alcohol-free options available to our customers. Non-drinkers started drifting from the sodas and sugary drinks to the premium drink options. Because Mocktails Uniquely Crafted® can be served in a cocktail glass, non-drinkers felt less out of place and were able to mix with those who were drinking.

It was 100% a great solution and at the same time brought our revenue back up. You’re serving a better drink, a better for you drink, and you’re making more turnover and more profit, it’s a win-win every time.

“Mocktails helps me improve quality, speed and consistency, while reducing training time and waste, driving higher revenues at a lower total cost.”

LM: Bill, this isn’t to separate those who drink from those who don’t drink. Right now, at least in the US, this category is blending together. Can you talk a little bit about the data that was released from IWSR that talks about the occasion-oriented melding of the drinkers and the non-drinkers?

BG: Absolutely, something called Dry January® started over in the UK many years ago. It was a way for folks that were drinking regularly to try not drinking. We’re in a new phase now. IWSR revealed that something to the tune of 94% of the people who are drinking adult non-alcoholic beer, wine, cocktails or mocktails, are actually people who do drink.

Consumers want choice, and what we’re finding is that 94% of the population are drinkers looking to moderate and moderation comes in many forms.

In terms of the moderation side of the business, you’re talking about folks that maybe used to have drinks with lunch, but are no longer doing that as much because they’re not going to the office and they’re not stationary all day long. They may be driving or have decided not to drink Monday through Thursday, but they will drink Friday, Saturday.

We’re even seeing that on the same occasion where someone will have a cocktail, they will alternate to a mocktail or a non-alcoholic beer or non-alcoholic wine and then go back to a cocktail to alternate their total intake. People, even before COVID and COVID changed a lot, are drinking alcohol less, but they’re drinking better. This trend of premiumization has cut throughout all the alcohol categories, whether it’s spirits or premium wines and craft beers. We are seeing consumers spend more, drink less, and drink better premium products all while continuing their search for other alternatives.

LM: You mentioned the growing ‘better for you’ beverage trend. Can you speak a little to what your vision is with the premium ‘better for you’ type cocktails?

BG: What we have is a brand new world. We frequently talk about how the global consumer psychographic has changed. It’s changed very rapidly, it’s widespread, and it’s forever, it’s never going back again.

Looking at mindful hospitality, the mindful drinking wave is not an industry driven trend or a marketing fad that tends to come and go. This is deeply rooted in the consumer wanting products that are better for you, and what that translates into is a more mindful consumer. This impacts all industries because consumers want better and they’re willing to pay more for it.

What does that mean? Moderation on the side of alcohol is one of those effects, but also premiumization. We’ve seen it in vodka’s when we used to drink Smirnoff and then Stoli came out and then Absolut came out and then Grey Goose then Tito’s and it goes on and on and on and we had this incredible revolution of higher premium options.

You can only charge so much for water, and you can only charge so much for sodas, lemonades, and iced teas. So, this is about driving revenue for the hospitality venue while at the same time giving the consumer what they want.

Photo courtesy of Mocktails Uniquely Crafted®

 AM: To top Bill’s points, consumers have changed their behavior massively and you see it much more in the hospitality because that’s where they eat and drink.

Dry January® has always existed, but this year was one of the best I’ve experienced in my 26 years in the industry. Yes, it’s not best for us from a hospitality position because we like to sell alcohol and make money, but this year consumers participating in Dry January® had a completely different approach. Some didn’t drink for 30 days and some practiced moderation drinking once or twice a week instead of four or five times a week.

When it comes to drinking and moderation, especially at the end of January towards February around one in four customers who come through my door are moderate or non-drinkers. Studies in Europe have shown that of consumers aged 18 to 25, 33% of them are teetotal, abstaining from alcohol completely. 

When I started with Mocktails Uniquely Crafted® about 5 1/2 years ago, I would go to drinks trade events and basically try to explain our product to people and share what we were doing in the NA category. People used to shrug their shoulders and say, “I like my vodkas.” Fast forward to the past two years, now when we attend these events, people are placing direct orders there and then. That is a massive change to take place in just two years. This category is completely different than what it used to be. People are asking for solutions to solve the consistency issues with drinks and food due to the chronic shortage of experienced staff in hospitality.

We can help hospitality as a whole by providing a product that operators can proudly serve customers instead of worrying about if the sodas watered down, or if a drink is too sugary. This wipes all the stress away and gives you a confident person no matter the experience who can make a consistent cocktail or a mocktail every time that customers will continue you to order. This is what makes our turnover stay the same and revenue go higher and higher.

LM: If you had to make an estimate of your clients that bounce between alcoholic and non-alcoholic mocktails and cocktails, what are you seeing over there?

AM: Let me just say before the pandemic, about 13% of our revenue came from sodas sales. After the pandemic that went up to 35% because I’m offering a different better for you option for them to drink. So that’s a huge turnover and is much more profit than actually selling any pints or alcohol.

LM: I’ll be honest. With the pricing that the alcohol companies have taken in the last few years, I think it does make the alcohol-free mocktail more attractive for both an operator as well as the manufacturer. Would you agree?

AM: 100% and there is a limit to how much you can charge for certain things as well. In hospitality there’s only so much you can charge for a soda and water, but anything above that you can be creative and increase your revenue. Optimal pricing depends on the location. So, it’s definitely better turnover and better profit margin 100%.

“Operators need solutions and Mocktails Uniquely Crafted®  helps improve quality, speed and consistency, while reducing training time and waste, driving higher revenues at a lower total cost.”

For an extended listening experience, click the video below to access the full roundtable interview.

For more information on Mocktails Uniquely Crafted® please contact Brian Barrett, Senior Vice President, Mocktail Beverages Inc., at brian@mocktailbeverages.com.