Retail shelves reflect our changing behaviour and that’s rarely more evident than at the bottle shop.
For me, walking into a Dan Murphy’s and being greeted by a complete, decked out non-alcoholic section has been a welcome visual representation of how many Aussie brands are jumping on-board the alcohol-free movement.
Why? Because growing up, I watched as one of my closest loved ones struggled with alcoholism; using the household drug as a way to escape stress, celebrate, unwind or enjoy themselves. For any question, alcohol was their answer.
While my story is personal, it’s a wider problem that many Australians struggle with. In fact, when Dry July was first founded in 2007, Australians aged 14 years or over consumed 28 million standard drinks on a typical day.
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So what encourages people to go dry when reaching for the bottle is part of our cultural identity?
For me, deciding to take a conscious step back from alcohol every once in a while was initiated as a way to encourage my loved one to do so themselves, and consider my own relationship with alcohol, too.
But when both my parents were diagnosed with cancer within a few years of one another, Dry July — and the charity associated with it — became even more important to me.
Years have gone by where I’ve taken part in Dry July to raise money and awareness, but I believe this month will be the easiest yet — all thanks to the boom in alcohol-free alternative drinks, and the Aussie brands behind them.
That’s why this July, SmartCompany will be running a series focusing on these brands, the mindful-drinking movement, and the cultural shift that SMEs should be taking notice of in regards to their own workplaces.
And if you happen to being going dry this July too, here are my suggestions for some of Australia’s best non-alcoholic options.
Plus & Minus
Stocked in bottle-o’s around the country, Plus & Minus is, in my opinion, one of the easiest non-alcoholic wines to get your hands on. Its wide ranges covers reds, whites, sparkling wine and rose, and it even has RTD prosecco cans for you to drink on the go.
This Bondi-born, female-founded, no-nasties margarita mixer comes without tequila included, meaning if you’re looking for a virgin margarita you should look no further. Pair it with Lyre’s Agave Spirit and you won’t even notice the big T’s absence.
Not only does Lyre’s have a tequila-imitation spirit, it also has non-alcoholic replacements for every other spirit you (or at least I) can think of. Established in the UK by two Aussie founders, Lyre’s is certainly at the helm of the sector: selling a bottle every 30 seconds, according to The Australian.
Hills Cider Co
Hills Cider is my favourite cider brand of them all, and, when they released their non-alcoholic option, the ‘Virgin Apple Cider’, Dry July was changed for me forever. It’s crisp, has the look and feel of a ‘real’ bottle of cider, and is made from 100% Adelaide Hills-grown apples.
Heaps Normal is a brand targeted towards craft beer lovers who want to reduce their alcohol consumption without sacrificing on taste. Last year, chief executive Andy Miller chatted with SmartCompany Plus to explain how the co-founders were slowly weaving these alcohol-free options into Australia’s pervasive drinking culture.
Another non-alcoholic craft beer brand, Sobah, is a First-Nations owned company creating products ‘infused with the flavours of native bush tucker’. With a former chef at the helm, taste is foremost for the brand, and it certainly found the winning recipe.
Altina Drinks co-founders are on a mission to change Australia’s drinking behaviour, in particular the corporate belief that social events require alcohol. But with its eye-catching RTD cans — with a range of non-alcoholic cocktail flavours — you’ll hardly feel like you’re missing out on work drinks.
Brunswick Aces is a distillery and bottleshop which opened Australia’s first non-alcoholic bar based in Melbourne last year. The bar serves more than 1oo products and brands, as well as its flagship zero-alcohol gin that takes G&Ts to a whole new level.
Monday Distillery sold half a million of its alcohol-free drinks in under two years, so I’m clearly not the only big fan of the company. Its range of ready to drink products are designed as a placebo for spirits, and they certainly hit the mark.
I couldn’t finish this list without mentioning Sans Drinks, the non-alcoholic marketplace which stocks more than 100 alcohol-free brands. Sans Drinks also has two completely alcohol-free bottle-o’s in Sydney, for any Sydneysiders wanting to get their hands on some non-alc options before the weekend hits.