The nonalcoholic brand says its products, which do not directly mimic the taste of alcohol, can satisfy consumers looking for an alternative option in social situations.

Mingle Mocktails aims to spark a zero-proof cocktail craze

Courtesy of Mingle Mocktails

Ahead of a trip with friends to the Pocono mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania several years ago, Laura Taylor decided to try making her own mocktails. Having given up alcohol, she found options like sparkling waters and diet sodas lacking, particularly in social situations, as they did not target adult drinkers.

Taylor took her daughter to Whole Foods where they loaded the grocery cart with ingredients like lavender essence, juices, citrus and herbs. Once home, Taylor created three different drinks. She put her favorite of the concoctions in a one-liter bottle and brought it on the trip, and was satisfied with the results.

“When I came home from that trip, I immediately didn’t even say hello to my family, I went to my laptop and looked at what was going on in the adult non-alcoholic category,” Taylor said. “They didn’t even have a name for it.”

In 2017, Taylor launched Mingle Mocktails, which she intended to be consumed on their own, for consumers looking to eschew alcohol, or mixed into drinks. Since then, the brand has remained a key player in the nonalcoholic cocktails space, a growing category as consumers seek out boozeless alternatives in place of their favorite bar staples.

The drinks are available in seven varieties — including Key Lime Margarita, Blood Orange Elderflower Mimosa, Cranberry Cosmo, Moscow Mule, Blackberry Hibiscus Bellini and Cucumber Melon Mojito.

Last month, Mingle Mocktails debuted its latest flavor, Sparkling Raspberry Rosé, which the company said contains 35% less sugar than a regular 4-ounce rosé. Mingle Mocktails are sold in ready-to-drink cans as well as 750 milliliter bottles that are designed to be shared like a bottle of champagne.

The brand is targeting consumers who are drinking less — particularly millennials and Gen Z. 

But the taste profiles of the drinks are not designed to directly mimic the taste of alcoholic drinks. Because of previous issues with alcohol abuse, Taylor decided to avoid triggering consumers wanting to avoid alcohol. Instead, it focuses on flavor essences, like salt and lime in a margarita-flavored mocktail.

“I started seeing it as more of an overarching, inclusive beverage that somebody like me who doesn’t drink can enjoy it, but my husband can throw in some vodka,” Taylor said. “So to me, I saw this as an even more exciting connector. And it really reinforces that social connection.”

Mocktail mania

Rather than constantly introducing new flavors, Mingle Mocktails focuses on expanding its existing products’ reach as consumers take a greater interest in zero-proof cocktails.

In March, Mingle Mocktails reached a distribution partnership with one of the largest U.S. alcohol wholesalers, Republic National Distributing Company. It pointed to Nielsen IQ data listing Mingle Mocktails as the fastest-growing brand in the nonalcoholic spirits category.

The nonalcoholic drinks space is expected to grow to $30 billion by 2025, according to Global Market Insights data.

After entering the sector seven years ago, Taylor watched the evolution in how people perceive the beverages as they acquainted themselves with the category. As an example, she pointed to a buyer from a well-known national chain who couldn’t wrap his head around the need for the offerings until he spoke to friends who don’t drink but said they would try it.

The Mingle Mocktails founder sees nonalcoholic beverages as more than just a passing fad as people drink less booze and heightened demand fuels more product launches, including ones with functional ingredients.

“This category will continue to evolve and grow, where you see there’s non-alc beer, non-alc wine, non-alc spirits, not-alc RTD. Some of those brands will rise to the top, and others will maybe fall behind,” Taylor said. “There will be more clarity around the category to the point where grocery stores and liquor stores will have a consistent layout as to how they address this category, much like you see now with kombucha or plant-based foods.”

Taylor credits zero-proof IPA producer Athletic Brewing for opening up opportunities for upstart brands in the nonalcoholic category looking to enter the mainstream.

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