Should I really stop calling non-alcoholic drinks 'mocktails?'

Don't call them mocktails. That makes them seem inferior to their alcoholic cousins. | Photo: Shutterstock.


I attended a workshop that recommended doing away with the term “mocktail” and just integrating low- and no-alcohol cocktails on a list. I am worried about customer pushback. What do you think?

– Owner


Zero and low-proof cocktails have been a growing trend as consumers continue to crave the social and flavorful aspects of a cocktail experience without the booze.

Let’s break your question into two parts: Should you eliminate the term “mocktail” from your menu? Absolutely. Referring to zero-proof cocktails as mocktails makes them seem inferior or a substitute for the real thing. However, they can and should be flavorful opportunities to delight guests and generate revenue at no ABV. By calling them zero-proof, spirit-free or using any number of positive terms, you make guests feel that all their beverage choices are great ones.

Part of this trend toward inclusivity is to normalize zero-proof cocktails by mixing them into the flow of a cocktail list. While I agree with the inclusive spirit of this gesture, I don’t think it outweighs the importance of being transparent with the consumer. I recently attended an event with zero-proof cocktails mixed into the list. One was verjus-based. For those unfamiliar, verjus is a tart non-alcoholic grape juice made from unripe grapes. It’s delicious. And non-alcoholic.

But I overheard guests whispering and then googling in confusion to find out what verjus is, how to pronounce it, and what alcohol was in the concoction. While the bartender was extremely knowledgeable, the staffer near their table was equally clueless. If you are going to mix zero- and low-proof cocktails in seamlessly, be sure that you have the staffing in place to guide guests through that list to be sure they know what they’ve ordered. My advice is to hold off on making that change for now. Use a symbol or section to clearly identify low- and no-proof cocktails. While we’ve had great strides in the mainstreaming of spirit-free cocktails, we aren’t there yet.

More on mocktails here.