Alex Carlton told The Morning Advertiser pubs should ensure they keep up with the increasing numbers of drinkers who want to drink low or no-alcohol products.
Stryyk – which has an alternative spirit for gin, rum and vodka – was created after conversations with Carlton’s peers revealed the demand for products that accurately mimic the taste of alcoholic drinks.
He said: “It is really important for pub and bar operators to be aware of how fast this movement is taking place.
“They should jump on and capitalise because, if they don't, they’re going to be struggling in the next few years to compete with the main high street operators that are expanding their non-alcohol offering at a pace.
“People don't want to give up drinking but they are certainly more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies.
“If you look at the latest food trends we are seeing a lot of diary-free and meat-free alternatives hit the market and you see it with soft drinks, people are moving away from carbonated, sugary drinks and more to fruit-based smoothies and kombuchas, so people are getting way more educated.
“They understand the health risks and benefits of eating poorly and well and they're much more health conscious of how they feel mentally, physically and how they look.
“The opportunity is certainly big. What the consumer and the guest wants is something that is simplicity and familiarity.”
Recognisable and comforting
Pubs can simply add an option to swap out spirits for an alcohol-free version on their menus and reap the benefits, Carlton explained.
He said: “The trends will come and go but, ultimately, when people are in venues, they are looking for something that is recognisable and comforting – that tends to be vodka, rum or gin for the most part.
“Immediately you have doubled down on your current cocktail list with non-alcoholic versions.
“It is the same way as if you think about the Starbucks menu with coffee, you have the list of coffees available and a decaf option on any of those.
“It is the simplest way for a bar to jump on the low-and-no bandwagon and delight their customers,” he said, adding that pubs didn’t need to “reinvent the wheel” to appeal to non-drinkers.
Covering all bases with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks is one way to prevent customers from relinquishing the pub for a night in, he added.
“It is imperative pub operators do look to improve their offering. They’re competing with an increase in living-room entertainment – and that’s with all ages, not just the young.
“People are much more comfortable at home with their Netflix and their Deliveroo, high-definition televisions and making cocktails at home is becoming easier.
“So you have to look at changing landscapes and what opportunities people have elsewhere.”