For a few years now, the nonalcoholic beverage industry has been on the rise. Some consumers are course-correcting after drinking too much alcohol during the pandemic. Additionally, young people are not drinking as much as earlier generations. Other people in on the trend, said Denver bar industry leader Adam Hodak, want to live a healthier lifestyle.
“General wellbeing is where it’s coming from,” he said. “You have people that are just generally careful about what they’re putting in their body and how it’s making them feel.”
Hodak is the new CEO of Awake Denver, which opened as a sober bar in 2020. It is closed while the group looks for a new location. Meanwhile, Hodak, the former beverage director at Bonanno Concepts, is still involved in running the L on Broadway, which serves alcohol like a typical bar.
He met Colorado Matters host Chandra Thomas Whitfield at the L recently to offer recommendations in the nonalcoholic drink market, and Hodak shared recipes for some of his favorite cocktails. He calls them “NA cocktails,” “spirit-free,” or “zero proof.”
Hodak said the industry has grown tremendously since O’Douls and Shirley Temples were the only options on the menu. He particularly likes the way NA aperitifs and liqueurs mix into cocktails.
“Right now there’s not, say, a spirit-free bourbon that you’re going to sit and sip and go, ‘My goodness, how is that not a Kentucky bourbon?’ They’re not there yet. However, they do have oak flavored spirit-free products that you can mix into cocktails that would be a whiskey cocktail, and that’s where you’re going to hit on those flavor profiles and create something that’s got a greater depth of flavor,” Hodak said.
For wine, he recommends trying the Hand on Heart cabernet sauvignon.
Adam’s cocktail recipes
For the budget-conscious drinker: Aperitif Spritz
- 2 oz Giffard Aperitif
- 3 oz Freixenet Alcohol-Removed Sparkling Cava
- 2 oz soda water
- Slice of orange
- Mix in glass with ice
An Adam Hodak favorite: Jalisco 55 Pineapple Margarita
- 2 oz Jalisco 55
- .5 oz pineapple juice
- .75 oz lime juice
- .5 oz agave
- Shake and strain over ice
- Rim the glass with Tajin
- Add a lime slice
For someone in recovery, or who wants to try botanicals: From the Earth Highball
- 2 oz Pathfinder Hemp & Root
- .75 oz lemon juice
- .75 oz ginger syrup
- 3 oz soda
- Shake ingredients, and pour into a tall glass with ice
- Top with the soda water and add a lemon slice
If you or someone you know needs support with substance abuse, call Colorado Crisis Services at 1 (844) 493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255.
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