The Sober-Curious Trend Sweeping Utah’s Beverage Industry

Whether you choose to imbibe, are taking a break from booze or pursue a sober lifestyle, one thing that teetotalers share with imbibers is a desire for flavor. Experiencing new and exciting concoctions that ignite our senses is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but why should that experience be limited to high-proof cocktails or syrup-laden sodas? Rising in popularity, alcohol alternatives are sating our curiosity for compelling mocktails that we’re actually excited to order. 

“It’s about providing a sophisticated drink for non-drinkers,” says Crystal Daniels, NA enthusiast, notable Salt Lake bartender and owner of a new beverage consulting business. Daniels began searching for alternatives for booze in an effort to make her establishments more inclusive to all guests. What she found was a world of NA (non-alcoholic) options suited to all tastes, from NA beer and wine, to spirit alternatives, to products that fall into a category completely of their own. Brands such as Cut Above, Ritual Zero Proof and MONDAY offer a range of 1:1 spirit alternatives, so you can still enjoy the depth of an Old Fashion or the bitter bite of a Negroni without calling an Uber at the end of the night. Some of Daniel’s favorite NA products are those that  are wholly original, like Pathfinder—a hemp-based elixir that was created by bartenders and plant scientists. “It’s an entirely new sipping experience,” she says. “It’s a blend of wormwood, angelic root, saffron and other adaptogens with antioxidants and vitamin E The closest this I can relate it to is an amari.” Utilizing adaptogens (herbs, roots and other natural substances that help the body respond to stressors) are just another way the beverage industry is tapping into a more health-wise consciousness. A brand called Three Spirit even categorizes their NA products by Feels, like their Nightcap elixir, an indulgent blend of lemon balm, valerian root and terpenes. 

Utah Beverage Industry

Enjoy a zero-proof Aperol Spritz, Margarita, or an Old Fashioned. Image courtesy of Ritual Spirits.

Bartenders are utilizing these products to create intriguing mocktail programs, but many can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own homes simply poured over a glass of ice. And if you’re in the mood for a glass of zero-proof vino, there’s plenty of that to go around as well. Tracey Thompson, President and CEO of wine brokerage/non-alcoholic distributor VineLore noticed a boom in the industry after 2020. Taking their cue from the growing demand for NA options, leading wine producers now offer dealcoholized pinot noirs and sauvignon blancs. And for those who prefer zero residual alcohol, companies like Zilch have created bubbly grape beverages that never undergo fermentation. “There’s a lot of innovation in this market,” Tracey remarks. 

The recent rise in NA products might be the result of a post-pandemic reality where many imbibers are reeling in any overindulgent habits formed during isolation. Other studies have found it’s the new generation of sober-curious individuals that drive the trend (a 2020 study by Berenberg Research found Gen-Z drinks 20% less than millennials). Whatever the cause, it’s clear the sobriety stigma is clearing out, and some of the beverage industry’s biggest players are cashing in. Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewing company, projects a 25% increase in their non-alc category by 2026. Just last year, Heineken partnered with Marvel to produce the Super Bowl’s first 0% beer commercial. Even vanguards in the bartending industry like Portland Cocktail Week incorporated NA programming in their 2023 curriculum. On a local level, Salt Lake’s movers and shakers are eager to introduce curious consumers to the NA realm. As part of their ongoing culinary course program, Caputo’s offers a “Mocktails & NA” tasting course with Crystal at the helm. During select prix fixe menus, Oquirrh has offered NA wine pairings, and bars like Bar Nohm, Copper Common and Post Office Place answer mocktail requests with flair. 

Utah is primed for a sober curious movement, and you might be surprised just how fun zero-proof can be. The next time you’re ordering a mocktail, go beyond a Shirley Temple or Diet Coke and see what flavorful elixir awaits you. And catch Crystal’s next mocktail class on March 7, and check for their upcoming schedule. If you’re interested in NA consulting, reach out to Crystal at and follow her journey on Instagram @mostlysoberbartender.   

Avrey Evans
Avrey Evans
Avrey Evans is the Digital and the Nightlife Editor of Salt Lake Magazine. She has been writing for city publications for six years and enjoys covering the faces and places of our salty city, especially when a boozy libation is concerned.

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