Low-ABV and zero-proof beverages are trending high among young US consumers who are cutting back on alcohol to be more health conscious. Small brands have traditionally carried the industry with specialty products like mocktails and non-alcoholic beers.
Laura Taylor founded Mingle Mocktails four years ago because she was frustrated with her options after quitting drinking. She found that soda, water and seltzer were boring and elicited too many questions from friends and strangers.
An upscale alternative
The brand launched with four varieties in November 2017--Blackberry Hibiscus Bellini, Cranberry Cosmo, Cucumber Melon Mojito and Moscow Mule. At the Summer Fancy Food Show Mingle debuted its first expansion with Blood Orange Elderflower.
Taylor told BeverageDaily that she also updated the overall packaging and included more nutrition details on the label. She describes the drink it as a little less carbonated than soda, and an ideal alternative for someone seeking an ‘upscale’ non-alcoholic beverage.
Each 750ml bottle is 120 calories total, sweetened with 24g of organic cane sugar. Mingle Mocktails are also certified gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO and kosher-certified.
Taylor is first marketing the line as mocktails and alcohol alternatives, but soon after launch she found that she was ‘alienating drinkers’ and pivoted her messaging slightly to position the drinks as mixers too. Now she recommends that while Mingle is good on its own, all varieties pair well with different spirits for a healthier cocktail option.
Just a few years ago when Mingle was in the works, Taylor said that she noticed she was a little ‘isolated’ and ‘ahead’ of the mocktail landscape. She met with distributors, bars and restaurants at the time who she said liked the product, but didn’t think it had a place in the market.
She reported that she is having a lot more success with expansion now that mocktails are timely and on-trend, and said “I’d rather be early and present than late and miss it.”
Jumping on the mocktail wagon?
The trend has led to more launches from small brands like hers, but also the entrance of big beverage into the mocktail industry. Coca-Cola introduced Bar None earlier this year, for example, a line of mocktail drinks.
“I do feel that people are jumping on, which I encourage because it’s better for us non-drinkers to have more choices. The thing I see, though, is that what’s coming out isn’t really hitting the mark in terms of the drinker who … wants something light and refreshing, but not too sugary, and not with a vinegar base; something they can drink all night when they’re at parties,” Taylor said.
Now Mingle is supplying to bars and restaurants, mainly in a handful of outlets near the company’s home base of Philadelphia. It’s also showing up in convention centers, conference areas and offices, and is available online.
Her partners are serving Mingle as skinny cocktails, mocktails and a kids celebratory beverage, because she considers it a healthier, low-sugar alternative to other options.
Taylor said, “My mission is to make drinking occasions fun for everyone by providing a new choice that non-drinkers can enjoy their way."