Serving non-alcoholic beverages can be a great way to improve your hosting skills – especially during the holiday season.
by Chad Steiner
When we started the pumpkin patch in 2019 – we wanted to be able to serve a drink the whole family could enjoy. I reached out to a gentleman named Nolan whom I served as a sales rep with Syngenta in 2002. Nolan has a family farm and his kids are now involved in the operation. They were a couple years into making Sheffield Cider. A non-alcoholic cider made from apples and sometimes mixed with other fruits. It turned out to be an amazing product from an amazing family and visitors to the farm loved it!
Well, it turns out – about 30% of the U.S. population doesn’t drink alcohol. And there’s a growing number of people interested in non-alcoholic options. Our eyes were opened to the opportunity to delight our guests. We’ve now had multiple situations where guests were so appreciative we considered them by having something non-alcoholic to offer. There can be a multitude of reasons people don’t drink alcohol. Empathy and understanding have provided us the opportunity to welcome guests whether they drink wine or not. We’re glad they visit our farm. Here are some of the reasons we’ve encountered.
- Allergies. Some individuals have allergic reactions to alcohol. Please keep this in mind if you plan to serve a non-alcoholic drink because some non-alcoholic options do have a small amount of alcohol. This can be harmful to those individuals.
- Choice. We’ve hosted folks who simply choose not to drink alcohol. This could be related to considerations for health. It could be related to recovery from addiction (congrats to all those who’ve had success on the recovery journey – super proud of you all). It could be because of religion or other reasons. Either way, we want to welcome all as hosts.
- Children. Kids often come with parents to wineries and have limited options. They too appreciate options they can participate in to feel special.
- Sober drivers. Many responsible guests dedicate someone to drive them while out wine tasting. These guests often times would like to have something unique as well. A mocktail can provide a sense of celebration or a happy way to engage socially.
- Pregnant. There are risks with drinking alcohol when pregnant. Many moms love wine but aren’t able to partake.
- Other. And sometimes, maybe a person just wants to take a break or consume less alcohol. In fact, Seedlip™ shared with us back in 2020 their approach at big events they were pouring at was – “hey, either start or end the evening with a non-alcoholic drink.”. Which I thought was a great idea. You’re headed out tasting for the day, maybe you have a mocktail at the first spot… or the last spot? Or if it’s an evening party you could do the same. It, might help the next morning as well.
Below I’d like to share some ideas on what we offer guests. These options by no means represent the totality of what’s available – the great thing today is how many options are available for non-alcoholic drinkers to enjoy.
I first connected with Seedlip™ in the heart of COVID in 2020. We were able to relay our story to the leadership and be approved to purchase their products. They appreciated what we were doing as a farm and wanted to see us carry the product. But, we got our first shipment in – experimented here and there with it and not until the fall of 2022 did we really start selling it (at the urging of an awesome customer). We find all the varieties of Seedlip™ to be wonderful. They’ve done a great job making recipe’s easy to find. In fact – its why they created this non-alcoholic spirit was to have an alternative to the always seemingly sweet mocktails available (e.g. a virgin daiquiri). The recipe Seedlip™ shared with us we use almost exclusively is below. Its fitting with us being apple growers – they named it an Apple Highball.
Apple Highball Recipe:
- Seedlip™ Garden 108 – 2.0 oz
- Sheffields Double Black – 1.0 oz
- Lemon Juice – ½ oz
- Maple Syrup – ½ oz
- Soda Water – top off with this.
- Garnish – apple fan.
- Method – place all ingredients except soda water into a cocktail shaker w/ ice. Shake and strain into a chilled highball glass. Top w/ soda water and add fresh ice. Garnish with the apple fan.
I shared a bit of the story above. We’ve been working with the folks at Sheffield for 5 years now. They provided us the ability to be the distributor for this area. So we keep spreading the good word on their cider and keep enough on hand to supply other businesses in the area. They’ve got a whole host of flavors you can see on their website. Double Black and the new Cosmic Crisp® cider have been very popular. This cider is a great gift for the holidays or it works wonderful to have on hand in case your hosting someone who doesn’t drink. We offer it as part of gift packs for folks year round.
Something new to our lineup this year. And they really do resemble a beer – plus no funky taste. However do be aware there is a small amount of alcohol still in them. Our go to’s have been the Upside Dawn Golden and Run Wild IPA. They seem to be very widely available and coming out with more and more options. We’re excited about what this company offers.
I hope this article has been helpful! We love hosting. And we love even more when we can have something special to offer someone not used to having many options. As a side note – the wine making world has played with lowering the alcohol on wine using reverse osmosis. We’re not sure we’ll go here… but, you can keep an eye out for wines naturally lower in alcohol – maybe the 13% zone vs. 15% plus. Mother nature sometimes steers this for us, but it is possible to keep it lower. Like moderation in consuming alcohohol, making beautiful wine is all about balance. Please have an amazing holiday season. And if you’re considering non-alcoholic options – we’re happy to support you – in the tasting room and with gifting.