Popularity of non-alcoholic drinks surge with push from health conscious community, #MeToo movement influence

Bars offering more booze-free options are growing in popularity, especially among women, according to new research.

Requests for "mocktails" grew 35% as a beverage type on the menus of bars and restaurants from 2016 to this year, according to global market research firm Mintel.

Researchers say the uptick comes as fewer people overall are drinking alcohol away from home, and the #MeToo movement has some women seeking a more comfortable bar environment.

Mocktails aren't just proliferating at sober bars. Regular bars and restaurants are cluing into the idea that alcohol-free customers want more than a Shirley Temple or a splash of cranberry with a spritz.

Amanda Topper, associate director of food-service research for Mintel, said 17% of 1,288 people surveyed between the ages of 22 to 24 who drink away from home said they're interested in mocktails.

The interest, she said, is also driven in part by the health and wellness movement, and the availability of higher-quality ingredients as bartenders take mocktails more seriously.

"It really started a few years ago with the whole idea of dry January, when consumers cut out alcohol for that month," Topper said. "It's shifted to a long-term movement and lifestyle choice."

Mainstream suppliers are also catching on. Beer companies are experimenting with alcohol-free selections, and Coca-Cola North America gobbled up the popular Topo Chico premium sparkling mineral water. The U.K.'s Seedlip brand bills itself as the world's first non-alcoholic spirits. It comes in three flavor profiles with ingredients like hand-picked peas from founder Ben Branson's farm in the English countryside.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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