Mocktails and more; temperance soars among young adults

Within the last twenty years, young adults have made the shift to drink less alcohol than the generations before them. According to Gallup Research, approximately 62% of adults aged 35 and younger say they drink alcohol, which is down from 72%, which was reported just 20 years ago.

With this data in mind, some raise the question of why young adults have shifted their mindset on alcohol. Researchers have pinpointed a few explanations as to why there has been a decline in young adults consuming alcoholic beverages.

According to a report by Forbes, one potential reason is the taste over effect being prioritized. Higher proof alcohol is typically more potent than drinks with less alcohol in them, making the taste rather unpleasant, but allowing for quicker intoxication. Noting this, young adults have decided to prioritize enjoying their choice of drink at a bar, club, or restaurant by ordering based on taste, or opting for a non-alcoholic choice. This movement has been coined as “sober curious”, meaning trying to lead a sober lifestyle by trying alternatives, or “Generation Dry”, another name for Generation Z, as they choose to opt out of alcoholic options.

Another reason cited by researchers for the decline in young adults’ interest in drinking alcohol is the health-conscious wave that has resonated with many. Young adults have adopted healthier habits and have started by cutting alcohol, as they are more concerned with weight gain associated with binge drinking, improving overall health, reducing risks of disease, improving sleep patterns, and avoiding the inevitable hangover. Growing popular with young adults is a trend known as “Dry January”. This event designates the month of January as an alcohol-free month to cleanse from the holiday season and start the new year off on a good note. Variations of this trend include “soft Dry January”, which is a less stringent version, cutting down on alcohol consumption.

Compellingly, many young adults have decided to skip the rite of passage of intense alcohol consumption because of the acceptance of choosing a sober or “sober curious”. Even as early as twenty years ago, a young adult saying they were sober often insinuated the person had issues with alcoholism, rather than just choosing not to drink. Now, the movement toward sobriety or abstaining from alcohol encapsulates over a third of the young adult population and spans across the United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries. Many young adults have decided to ditch the cycle of drinking on weekends and wasting the next day recovering by adopting the “sober curious” or sober lifestyle. Currently on social media, hashtags such as “sober curious”, “sober life”, or “sobriety journey” have millions of uses and views, catering to all different audiences on the platforms, showing how to navigate going out on the weekends, after making the choice to become sober.

With young adults leaning towards a non-alcoholic or low-alcoholic diet and lifestyle, the market for alcoholic beverages has made changes to cater to the group. Soda and juice companies have decided to get involved by creating “spiked” options of classic favorites. Mtn Dew, SunnyD, Simply Lemonade, and Arnold Palmer are a few of the brands that have added mixed drinks to their lineup that contain little alcohol, in hopes of drawing in young adults (CNN).

Not only has the low-alcoholic market been ignited, the mocktail and non-alcoholic options have also grown immensely over the past 10 years. Previously, the market only offered non-alcoholic wine or beer, but now includes seltzers, champagne, and other spirits, keeping in mind that those who have low or anti-alcohol motives may enjoy the taste, just not the effects of traditional alcoholic options. Spirit brands have introduced zero-proof options that allow young adults to taste the alcohol of their choosing, without experiencing any effects (CBC). Mocktail sales have increased exponentially and are predicted to hit $9.43 billion by 2028, according to Data Bridge Market Research.

For those sober-curious, of any generation, linked below are some popular mocktail recipes to try at your next social outing: