8 Things Non-Drinkers Want Restaurants and Bars to Know
I'll be completely honest - I've never worked in a restaurant or bar. I don't really know what goes on behind the scenes. I don't know how menus are created, how servers are trained, or how you pencil out the revenue of serving a top shelf martini vs. a lavender infused mocktail. Zero clue.
But I do know what goes on when I sit down at a table and am offered a menu...and here's what my non-drinking friends and I want the restaurant industry to know:
- Even if you are a whiskey bar, brewery, or family diner, it's important to include non-alcoholic options on your menu. You might assume that we all know there's "soda, tea, coffee" but by not having it in black and white where we can see it, you're forcing us to think about what you might have and what might sound good and it's too much for our brains. We had a long day of shuttling kids, work, laundry, and doctor appointments and we came to your place for a reprieve - to have someone present us with a menu so we can point to something and say "I'll have that." We've made meal decisions all week for other people, spoil us by making our drink decision easy.. If you have Bundaberg Ginger Beer listed on the menu or an Arnold Palmer, our brains say, "Hey that sounds good!" and you've now made a few bucks. If it's too hard, we'll ask for water.
- If you are a restaurant or bar with a full menu of cocktails, those of us that don't drink would be absolutely THRILLED to see 1 or 2 non-alcoholic cocktails too. If you have the creativity to create 20 special cocktails, gosh, I can only imagine what kind of non-alcoholic cocktails your mixing talent could produce.
- Please don't tell us that "anything you see on the menu we can make non-alcoholic". Your cocktail with the fun name and 3 different kinds of liquor is hard for us to imagine as non-alcoholic. What do you add when you remove the alcohol? Do you remove 3 kinds of alcohol and add one mixer like Tonic? How does that work? It's too much. We can't do it. We will ask for water.
- In addition to being controversial at the moment, straws feel kind of weird (in my personal opinion). Is there a reason for the straw? To avoid confusion behind the bar or at the table? Is there another way to do that? A special drink stirrer or coaster or glass? Remember, I'm a rookie - I noticed that mocktails are generally served in tall glasses, are the straws for ease of drinking?
- There was a vegetarian movement, a Paleo movement, a gluten-free movement and most of the time I see those movements reflected on menus of high end restaurants and family diners alike. You are probably waiting to see if this non-alcoholic movement is 'just a fad' but I'm going to hedge my bets and say - NOPE, it's not. There's an alcohol free movement and we're excited to see what you have to offer!
- If you are a winery, a brewery, or specialty bar, I get it - people come to your place to enjoy your craft. Please don't take the stance that if we don't drink then "we just aren't your customer". Some of us would love to come see your place and support your business! We'd love to come sing happy birthday to our friend who is celebrating with you! We want to be able to attend an evening business meeting and not worry about what there will be for us to drink.
- Many times your servers are our first impression of you. Please educate them - you have talented bartenders I'm sure of it! I assume that menu updates are difficult to do frequently so let your servers know what your bartender can do. Tell your server that when she/he offers wine or a cocktail to mention that "we have some wonderful non-alcoholic cocktails as well". I'm telling you - if you offer it to us we will buy it.
- When you make the effort to include us in your establishment by offering alcohol free cocktails, we'll come back. We will walk away feeling so welcomed and thought of, we will come back with our friends, drinking and non-drinking alike. Your place will become our go-to spot for a night out, our 50th birthday party, or a date.
I'm on a mission to educate myself about all things 'behind the bar'. Even in my tiny little community I have connected with AMAZING bartenders and I'm excited to share their interviews, tips, and recipes with you. I'm certain that the bar and restaurant industry is catching on to the alcohol free movement but things take time:) While we're waiting, let's have some fun sampling drinks:)
Is there a fantastic bartender or restaurant in your area that serves creative soft cocktails? Let me know so I can highlight them here on the blog!