Why Everyone in Your Friend Group Is Talking About Low-Proof Booze

The low- and no-alcohol trend is here to stay, experts are saying—so should you try it?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever tagged along to a work happy hour solely for the social (or networking) aspect, or if you’ve ever RSVP’d yes to a GNO only because you didn’t want to have FOMO looking at everyone’s Instagram Stories the next day. These experiences are super relatable among millennials. Luckily, we can still party hard with a fun-looking drink in our hand thanks to low-proof boozy cocktails.

According to data obtained by Insider, non-alcoholic beverages saw a 33% increase in sales in 2021—but it was low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages that skyrocketed by 315% in online sales.

Those numbers will keep climbing, per IWSR spokesperson Greg Cohen, who told USA TODAY that the beverage industry could be looking at a “+23% compound annual growth rate volume” in low-proof and non-alcoholic drink sales from now until 2026.

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Why is everyone suddenly obsessed with low-proof booze?

bartender pouring cocktail alcohol

Similar to how some stray away from gluten, dairy, or sugary, carbonated bevvies, people are switching to low-proof and non-alcoholic drinks because they’re keenly aware of the impact alcohol has on their bodies.

Think of it as mindful drinking. Rather than leave a possible hangover up to the alcohol gods, people are prioritizing their mental and physical health by making a conscious effort to skimp out on cocktails riddled in sugar, calories, alcohol volume, and oftentimes, a mix of multiple spirits.

Not only are low-proof and non-alcoholic cocktails healthier alternatives, but they encourage people to get out there and participate in social settings as much as they once would without feeling like a sore thumb among the group. Pacing low-proof cocktails is a lot easier and a more effective way to ensure you’ll make it to the end of the night, too.

While other partygoers may try to put your non-alcoholic or low-proof drinking habits in a labeled box, just remember that cocktail ingredients vary by drink and not all have to center around a liqueur.

“We’re saying you can create the cocktail without alcohol and we can stop thinking solely about the historical references to it and just kind of make it what we want it to be,” drinks master Derek Brown writes in his new book, Mindful Mixology: A Comprehensive Guide to No- and Low-Alcohol Cocktails.

“We have all this confusing terminology about what is a non-alcoholic cocktail. There’s the M-word or mocktail. There’s zero-proof. There’s spirit-free. There’s alcohol-free,” he continues. “But what I’m trying to tell people is that at the end of the day, it is a cocktail if it’s a cocktail: It does not matter if it has alcohol in it or not.”

So now you know why everyone you know is talking about the low-proof booze they’ve been switching to—for good reason.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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