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Brand stories: The Mindful Drinking Festival

Summer 2018 Mindful Drinking Festival

The Mindful Drinking Festival is over (we’re back in a few months in Glasgow) – and what a day it was! You’ll have already seen some of our “brand stories” articles in the run-up to the festival, and we squirrelled a couple away to share after the event – so here’s The Alcohol-Free Shop, Borrago, Jeffrey’s Tonic, Soda Folk, and Lo Bros talking about their brands, the festival and their expectations for the future of mindful drinking…

The Alcohol-Free Shop – Christine Humphreys

1) The Alcohol-Free Shop was the first online store comprised of solely alcohol-free drinks. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired it’s creation?

The Alcohol-Free Shop at www.alcohol-free.co.uk was launched in 2006. It was the idea of MD John Risby (I’m co-director). John has been a sober alcoholic for 14 years. He realised a gap in the market for people seeking adult alternatives to alcohol. We now deliver non-alcoholic wines, beers, cocktails and soft drinks across Europe and have a physical shop in Manchester where we have our warehouse and distribution depot.

2) This will be your second Mindful Drinking Festival after attending last summer’s event – what was your experience last year?

Last year’s Mindful Drinking Festival was a good experience. We’ve exhibited at trade shows previously, but to be able to access an audience that’s already converted to the benefits of an alcohol-free lifestyle or keen to explore the possibilities and to get so much positive feedback was very different for us. It was a very hectic day last year and we really didn’t know what to expect.

3) What are you expecting this year, do you think there will be any key differences?

This year, we’re hoping to see larger numbers attending and more people actually buying or placing orders on the day rather than just tasting. We’re particularly hoping to meet more people from the hospitality industry as we’re keen to see more pubs and restaurants offering sober spenders more choice. I think the key difference will be the much-greater variety of drink options available this year.

Borrago – Tom Tuke-Hasting 

1) This will be your first time at one of our Mindful Drinking Festivals with Borrago, what are you expecting from the event?
We want the opportunity to connect with the non-drinking movement and to introduce our brand to people who might not have had the opportunity to try it before.
2) Borrago is a non-alcoholic “spirit,” what was your inspiration behind the creation of the brand?
I used to be a chef and write cookery books and run a food dot com. Having moved out of marketing, I wanted to connect again with food and drink. I used to party hard and even wrote a book on the art of the vodka jelly. But now I am older and live in the country with two small children, so while I love entertaining and partying, alcohol plays a smaller part in this. I was not impressed with the options available and thought that I could do better – and Borrago was born.
3) There’s been a sharp and significant increase in the alcohol-free, low calorie, low sugar and specifically non-alcoholic spirits category over the last year – what do you think is the reason for this?
I think the market is ready for it. People want a delicious choice when they go out whether they are drinking alcohol or not. You can’t expect people to be satisfied with a glass of juice or fizzy drink when in sophisticated surroundings. People want and deserve to have something that is as good as or better than an alcoholic beverage.
4) What will help make your drinks stand out and have the impact you hoped for over the next couple of years?
Like all drinks, we will be judged on our taste and we think it is not only truly delicious but also very versatile. We have beautiful quality packaging and feel we stand out on the shelf. We’re also getting behind the “save the bees” campaign. Borrago is named after borage, also known as the bee flower. With no bees, we would have no botanicals, so we are doing what we can to help save their habitat. We are giving away 80,000 borage seeds and have our own beehives. Over the next couple of years, we don’t want to be the exception. We want to see a very vibrant and healthy category offering lots of delicious choices.

Jeffrey’s Tonic – Mike Robinson

1) This will be your first time at one of our Mindful Drinking Festivals with Jeffrey’s, what are you expecting from the event?

We’re expecting to get some more visibility to ‘Brand Jeffrey’s Tonic’, to understand a bit more about how people perceive Jeffrey’s in a non-alcoholic way (as opposed to a drink served with alcohol) and to sell some product to the lovely people of London.

2) Jeffrey’s is a great range of cordials, what was your inspiration behind the creation of the brand?

Thank you! The inspiration was actually a book for Christmas, in which were some recipes for home-made tonics, which I hadn’t heard of before.  They’re quite popular Stateside apparently, but not at all here. Yet.  The guy behind the recipes was a legend of a bartender called Jeffrey Morgenthaler, and the brand is a nod to him (he knows), though the recipes are a lot different from where we started.

3)What would you like to see in the future of “mindful drinking” that is not already happening?

We’d like to see people view tonic as something which can be separate from a gin and tonic.  There really aren’t any tonics on the market apart from Jeffrey’s which can be drunk with any real pleasure and Jeffrey’s, we think, hits the mark of being a properly adult soft drink.  It has a nice blend of subtle quinine bitter and interesting flavour.

Soda Folk – Liz Jackson 

1) Soda Folk is a delicious brand of sodas with a huge range of flavours.  Can you tell us a bit about what inspired its creation, and any new additions to the range?

Soda Folk was founded by Colorado native, Ken Graham, who, when he moved to London from the states, found himself homesick for Coloradan Root Beer.  The FSA crackdown on products with excessive additives led to the banning of American Root Beer imports which largely list Benzoic Acid; Ken decided it was high time he brought craft sodas to our shores, with nothing artificial added, just the best quality ingredients he could find and simple recipes that deliver on taste.

In the Summer of 2017 Soda Folk launched five new naturally low calorie and low sugar sodas; Cherry (initially exclusive to Byron nationwide), Orange and the G&T inspired Juniper, Prosecco-inspired chardonnay Grape and cider-inspired Breton Apple sodas. The inspiration for the new range came from Founder Ken’s wife Devon; when she was expecting their daughters Clover and Willa, Ken sought to find tasty alternatives to alcohol whilst they both went booze-free for the pregnancies – ever the innovator in the kitchen, Ken got creative in mimicking their favourite alcoholic drinks in soda form. The Cherry and Orange flavours were always in the works for Ken, but after stockists and customers alike requested these varieties, it was a no-brainer to extend the range even further! This year after much demand, we launched the cherry and orange in cans.

2) This will be your second Mindful Drinking Festival after attending our Christmas event – what was your experience last year?

We really enjoyed last year, and met some great customers and fellow producers. It was a little chilly for enticing cold drinks though!

3) What are you expecting this year, do you think there will be any key differences?

The weather gauge is saying hot! We’re hoping people will come flocking to sample our delicious thirst-quenching treats!

Lo Bros – Dom Dalton

1) This will be your first time at one of our Mindful Drinking Festivals with Lo Bros, what are you expecting from the event?

We are so excited to have such a great opportunity to interact with so many people in such a great location and to tell them a bit about kombucha. It’s such a unique event that I am sure it will draw a huge number of people in, and we’re also excited to see the other drinks that are at the festival and to also come up with some cool collaborations. Kombucha is such a brilliant alternative to alcohol due to the fact that it’s fermented and you drink it naturally slowly- so we can’t wait to talk to people who are actively looking for different non-alcoholic options. Lo Bros as a brand and kombucha as a concept is still relatively new to the UK market, so we get really excited when we are doing an event that will allow us to talk to so many people that may never have tasted our living drinks before.

2) Lo Bros is a tasty range of sparkling kombucha, what was your inspiration behind the creation of the brand?

Our founder and CEO, Didi Lo, created the product with his brother to try and bring the ancient recipe of kombucha into the mainstream and produce a product that was not only packed full of probiotics and beneficial acids, but that tastes as good as a traditional soft drink. The next challenge was trying to produce it in a way that allowed us to keep the price as low as possible- so many kombuchas are just too expensive for people to drink them on a daily basis. Our brand is about more than just kombucha- we have a full ‘Living Drinks’ range, including fermented sodas and apple cider vinegar tonics. We can’t wait to introduce them to people at the festival!

3) There has been a sharp and significant increase in the alcohol-free, low calorie, low sugar and health drinks categories over the last year – what do you think is the reason for this?

Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the negative impact of sugar on health- and the government imposing a sugar tax on soft drinks has had an impact on the price of unhealthy drinks. At the same time, young people are becoming more and more aware of the impact of what they are putting into their body – which is why more and more under 25’s are drinking less alcohol, moving towards plant-based diets etc. We believe that fermented drinks are the next big trend- they provide a naturally low in sugar, vegan, non-alcoholic option that also happens to be really good for your gut.

4) What will help make your drinks stand out and have the impact you hoped for over the next couple of years?

I think I have mentioned a lot in the above. Our branding is hopefully really strong- we are trying to create a range of drinks and a brand that appeals to the consumer who cares about what they are putting into their body. We want to appeal to the LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability) consumer- the consumer who cares about more than just taste and price when they buy their food or drink. This consumer also takes into account their worldview and their beliefs, their health, the environment etc. We want to innovate regularly and provide interesting new drinks that are not only really good for your health and affordable but add some variety and excitement into your day.

If you missed our other brand stories, head here to read the rest.

If you’re thinking of doing a sober sprint, would like to cut down your drinking, stop for a while or quit completely – you can sign up to our FREE mailing list for advice, inspiration, events information and more. You can also join our private Facebook group to access our webinars live (check the ‘articles’ section for the saved videos) and to share stories, advice, and support with like-minded people on different stages of their journeys. Want to keep socialising but not sure which places are good for alcohol-free drink choices? Head to our Club Soda pub guide where we list the best places for mindful drinkers.

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Social Media Witch. Moderate drinker. Metal chick.

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