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The Modern Drinking Movement came in three waves. We’re entering the third wave now. And with each new cultural wave, how we think about drinking, how we talk about drinking and what we drink changes.


For a very long time, if you weren’t drinking alcohol, people assumed you were either pregnant or you were an alcoholic. Either way, they looked at you with confusion, pity, and concern. It was also clear that whatever your “problem” was, you should deal with it elsewhere. Bars, parties, dinners, gatherings were for drinkers and if you didn’t drink, you didn’t count. Enter the mocktail (technically the mocktail has been around since pre-prohibition but the modern version has only gained cultural traction in the last 20 years or so). A mixture of some juice, garnish, and maybe even served in a fancy glass. They didn’t taste very good but non-drinkers finally had a guest pass to “real” party and the drinkers felt a little less uneasy when their sober friends at least pretended they were drinking.


Around 2015 some innovators decided we deserved better than a mocktail. They understood that there were many dimensions to the ritual of social drinking and could mimic every single one, even the booze. This ignited a wave of alcohol alternatives that were remarkably close to their boozy cousins. They came in sturdy, fancy bottles, were often distilled just like spirits, and great efforts were made to match the flavor and even the burn of alcohol. This was a revolution in drinking. Not only did non-drinkers feel seen, empowered and relieved that they finally could participate more meaningfully in cocktail experience, but it also ignited the curiosity and creativity of bartenders and mixologists who realized that the true test of their skill was to make a genuinely delicious zero-proof cocktail. And so the modern drinking movement officially graduated from mocktails and homemade concoctions to a serious craft in bars, events and parties.


The product, marketing, and cultural innovations of the zero-proof spirit era paved the way for the final liberation of the Alcohol-Free Lifestyle. Despite raising the quality of these products and increasing availability of options for AF drinkers, many of us, when we checked in with ourselves, felt the offerings were still missing the mark. By spending so much time trying to act like drinkers and mimic an experience we often tried very hard to leave behind, we were denying ourselves the pride and confidence of truly embracing the AF lifestyle and expressing our authentic selves. We were still hiding, we were still cosplaying as alcoholics, and we still only had a seat at the kids table: it was still just a guest pass.

Brands like Kin Euphorics, Guinep, and Recess leaned fully into the AF lifestyle as someting to be proud of. Something to show off. And they recognized that making the decision to drink less or not at all was part of a larger identity and lifestyle that begged for its own, unique thought leaders, habits, and drink styles. Instead of trying to mimic alcohol brands and products, they forged their own unique styles, and voices. They use compelling functional ingredients, novel flavor profiles, and most importantly, make no excuses for not being alcoholic and never promised to be “just like the real thing except without the hangover.” They understood that the absence of alcohol in someones life wasn’t a problem that needed fixing with a fake alcohol solution, but rather the signal of someone who has evolved and that their evolution should be celebrated.