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The art and skill of making and drinking lots of cocktails without getting drunk

By Edward Tsumele, Editor, CITYLIFE/ARTS

Now let us be clear about one thing when it comes to making cocktails, and that is that it is a serious skill of art. It is not just knowing the right and correct quantities of the drinks you are mixing. But it is also knowing the correct measurements of each, and in bar talk, whether it is a double tote or a single one. After this, you need to know not only how to shake the damn thing, but also which ones you should not shake.

I learned about this art recently. And before I go there, please allow me to tell you this story.

After drinking a lot of cocktails, some of which we made ourselves recently at a media function organised by a beverages company, I wrote to a colleague the following message:Good morning and I trust that you travelled safe home  yesterday after having so much-well, Non-alcoholic cocktails. I guess that is the beauty of it -drinking as much cocktails as you want to without the worry of staggering home.

And her response was as follows: “It was good to meet you yesterday – and great to drive home without worrying indeed!

By analysing this message between two colleagues, you can tell that it was a function where alcohol was not involved and we were OK with it.

Well the issue is I got an invite that promised a lot of fun among the participants  involving drinking and making lots of cocktails, but the difference being that one was going to leave the place in the same mental state as they came in. This is something one never achieves If you went to a cocktail party, I mean the one with lots of alcoholic drinks.

But anyway, here we were, lots of fun, drinking and experimenting with different ingredients and we still remained sober. For a drinker that was real weird but fun still. The taste of the various cocktails we made guided by the very experienced  mixologist Joe Bar tasted the same as the normal alcoholic cocktail ingredients, except that thse did not have alcohol, and If one was craving getting drunk, they would be disappointed.

Apparently the trend for people, I mean alcohol drinkers to also delve in non-alcoholic drinks is a global one. People who normally drink alcohol, sometimes just prefer to enjoy the flavour without the intoxicating ingredient, we were told.

In fact the ‘sober curious’ trend is on the rise, driven by increasing consumer demand for non-alcoholic products that provide an elevating drinking experience. IWSR, the leading source of data and insight on the global beverage alcohol market, the no/low alcohol category value surpassed $11 billion in 2022 up from $8 billion in 2018.

No/low-alcohol consumption is estimated to increase by a third by 2026, spearheaded by growth of non-alcoholic products which are expected to account for over 90% of the forecast total category volume growth.

The study cites improved taste, production techniques and a diversification of consumption occasions that are driving non-alcoholic’s dominance over low alcoholic in many markets and they expect the non-alcoholic category volume to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +9% between 2022 and 2026.

Interestingly, non-alcoholic spirits will see some of the more dynamic growth as brand owners invest in innovation and products are given more space by retailers and on-trade, the study states.

Karl Fielding, Vice President for the Middle East and Africa for Lyre’s, the world’s most awarded non-alcoholic spirits company, says that the non-alcoholic sector is undergoing a revolution in terms of popularity as an increasing number of people are choosing to avoid alcohol on certain occasions or abstain from it completely.

“Consumers palates are becoming more adventurous and sophisticated in cuisine and beverage choice,” he explains. “High end independent restaurants are at the forefront of catering to these desires and that’s where we are seeing the most demand for Lyre’s products.”

He points out that the ‘sober curious’ and ‘better for you’ lifestyle is driven by many factors. “The 18–35-year- old demographic are spending more time than ever across social sharing platforms and building their own identity,” he explains. “We know that post Covid consumers are spending more time being social, out with friends, but also want to capitalise on their free time with rewarding experiences like going to the gym and experimenting with things like mixology and cooking. “

He continues: “…the entire non-alcoholic category has grown significantly; this is really driven by an increase in moderating alcohol consumption and a thirst for elevated drinking experiences for drinkers and non-drinkers alike. Globally nearly a third of people are not consuming alcohol when they are out.”

Fielding says that the ‘mindful drinker’ – consumers that are moderating their consumption of alcohol.

“Whether this is taking part in ‘non-drinking’ months and occasions or just drinking less when they are out, people are driven by taste and experience rather than alcohol strength. This has led to the growth of both the non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic cocktail trend.”

Frictionless drinking – swapping non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks interchangeably is all about moderation.

“We know that more people are drinking less, rather than not drinking at all,” he says. “This may mean switching from alcoholic drinks to non-alcoholic whilst out or choosing to reduce the number of occasions that they consume alcohol. The availability of sophisticated non-alcoholic options now gives consumers a better, more socially inclusive option when out as opposed to say water or soda.”

Lyre’s is the world’s most awarded non-alcoholic spirit and is available in over 60 countries. Lyre’s launched in South Africa in 2022 offering a range of equivalents to the most popular spirits in a non-alcoholic format including Dry London Spirit (Gin alternative), Italian Spritz (for a classic spritz), American Malt (Bourbon alternative), Coffee Originale (for an Espresso Martini) and White Cane Spirit (perfect as an alternative to White Rum).

“From our in-depth focus groups, we did with non-drinkers we found the consistent complaint about mocktails was their sugar content and the basic flavour profile, therefore there is a clear gap in the market for a well- crafted cocktail imbued with complex and sophisticated flavours and this is what Lyre’s is catering to,” he concludes. The Lyre’s range is 70-90% lower in calories than their alcoholic counterparts, are vegan and are made using all natural ingredients, giving consumers better-for-you alternatives to their favourite cocktails.

Visit to find a bar, restaurant, or retailer near you and to find out more information on the world of Lyre’s including recipes, how-to’s and brand updates.

About Lyre’s

Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits is a range of 18 alcohol-free classic spirits, 5 ready to drink cans and a non- alcoholic sparkling wine, created using a unique understanding of food science and flavour architecture.

Founded in 2019 by entrepreneurs Mark Livings and Carl Hartmann, the range is the world’s most comprehensive and awarded solution for mindful drinking, equivalent to the most popular spirits in a non- alcoholic format.

Lyre’s portfolio of premium non-alcoholic spirits is capable of crafting 90% of the world’s best-selling cocktails.

A frictionless swap of a Lyre’s non-alcoholic spirit for the original alcoholic ingredient delivers all the benefits of a premium sophisticated serve without compromise. Lyre’s currently sells one bottle every 30 seconds in over 60 countries across multiple channels, including direct-to-consumer, and in leading restaurants, bars, hotels, retailers, and airlines. All products are vegan, and packaging is 100% recyclable. Lyre’s was created to change the way the world drinks. Simply choose your drink and make it a Lyre’s. Visit

My Cocktail

There you have it. And If you want to know what cocktail I made, well here we go.  I chose a strong option of White Cane Spirit, American Malt, Coffee Originale and weakened the concoction with two ice blocks. The taste was delicious. It felt almost as If I was having an alcoholic cocktail. If you doubt me, just try it. I really learned a new art of making a tasteful cocktail at the quirk cocktail bar Sin+Tax in Parkwood last week.

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