After years of what seems like a predominance of innovation within the alcohol industry, it appears that the soft drink category is taking note, and more importantly, making bolder steps than ever before to increase their appeal. In general, consumers are becoming more health conscious - the rise of clean eating and superfoods was more or less unexpected, yet took the world by storm; millennials in particular are moving away from regular alcohol consumption, and value health more than the generations preceding them. With the news of Diageo acquiring a majority stake in Seedlip, a relatively new non-alcoholic drinks brand, we thought we'd take the time to have a look at the rise of the innovative soft drink.
1. Seedlip - Diageo
Launched in 2015, Seedlip is a the new kid on the block in terms of soft drinks, yet has made an large impact on the influencers in the food scene; both Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal are said to be fans, and the drink has been distributed in Selfridge's and Fortnum & Mason. An innovative take on the non-alcoholic drink, Seedlip's creator, Ben Branson, describes the brand as 'a really grown-up non-alcoholic option for all the times when you are not drinking'. Pitching itself as 'the world's first' distilled non-alcoholic drink, Seedlip boasts two flavours (clove, lemon and cardamom, and sweet pea, cucumber and meadow grass) and distinctive packaging which resembles a large section of the craft distilling movement.
2. Thomas & Evans - Britvic
The Thomas & Evans range as a more interesting option for consumers who do not drink, or who want to have a lighter evening. The first release from this is aptly named T&E No.1, and is described as 'a gently sparkling drink, revealing notes of green fruits, citrus peel and botanicals' - pitched as a standalone drink and also as a mixer, it has filled a gap in the emerging zero-proof drink market. Drawing inspiration (and the name) from two business partners found in the Britvic archives, who created non-alcoholic alternatives to sell in pubs in the 1880s, T&E No.1 is made up of 20 different ingredients, and marks Britvic's first big step into the adult premium drinks category.
3. Merchant's Heart - Lucozade Ribena Suntory
We first noticed Merchant's Heart at Imbibe this year - the way in which the brand positions itself is so unique that it sticks in your mind. Marketed as a 'spirits enhancer' rather than a mixer, this is a drink that stands on its own two feet and does not need to support a strong gin or spirit to make its point. Available in 6 adventurous flavours: classic, pink peppercorn, floral aromatic, hibiscus, ginger ale, and lemon, the brand is selectively making itself available to London's premium drinks outlets, before a full launch in Spring 2017. The brand's style is also iconic - drawing inspiration from 1950's Vogue editorials & Suntory advertising, its bold colour blocking and geometric styling sets it worlds apart from the nostalgic or botanical imagery seen from the majority of adult soft drinks coming onto the scene.
In summary, the zero-proof adult drinks market, whilst still in emergence, is making a large impact with some of the biggest players in spirits even getting involved early. It's time to say goodbye to the lime & sodas of the world, and hello to a distilled, premium soft drink on a dry night out!