Alcohol-free drinks are here and customers enjoy them even more than before. Not all people in 2023 want to drink different types of alcohol when they go out for dinner. They seek drink and food pairings that suit their lifestyle.
Today, an increasing number of people are looking into their health and making adjustments to their diet. From keto and gluten-free to veganism and paleo - there are so many ways of eating and living.
Although at first glance this could seem like a big challenge for restaurant owners and manager, it can be a huge opportunity. By following the trends in the industry and adjusting your beverage program, you can gain new customers and improve your restaurant profit margin significantly.
In other articles we’ve talked about vegan drinks, gluten-free beverages (including non-alcoholic gluten-free drinks), CBD-infused drinks, specialty coffee, plant-based milks, matcha drinks, vegan wine, etc. All these beverages should be considered by restaurant managers. Just like the drink and food pairings of non-alcoholic drinks and your incredible dishes!
Menu Development for Great Drink and Food Pairings
In order to build a great menu, you need to do great planning. What you need to know for sure is what’s the concept of the restaurant, what clientele you want to attract, and of course, what dishes you want to serve and make your signature meals.
The not-so-good news here is that once you are done with the food menu engineering, planning, and design, it’s time to plan the restaurant beverage inventory. Start from the true classics like regular beer, different varieties of wine, best bar cocktails, and the popular soft drinks.
Once you have the classics narrowed down, you can start working on the unique beverage options you want to include. We already have mentioned some great alternatives above, which you should look into and see what will work for your restaurant. Here are some tips to follow in the process!
Key Takeaway: There are many unique meals you can serve alongside non-alcoholic drinks. Drink and food pairings are endless and you can do what would work best with the concept of your business and for your customer base.
Don’t Overdo It with The Specials
We always recommend creating a signature cocktail or a few, when that’s possible. However, you should not confuse customers with too many options they are not familiar with.
Decision fatigue is a serious issue and if your customer wants to relax with a nice drink after a long day, they may get overwhelmed with your huge menu filled with unknown drinks.
Looking into CBD drinks, gluten-free drinks, and vegan options, for example, and select a few of each category or ones that will work for various diets and lifestyles. Research brands creating canned alternatives as well and see what will work best for your business.
Always Keep the Food in Mind
If you run a restaurant, your main focus should be the food, of course. Whether or not you are aspiring to earn a Michelin Star, creating delicious dishes is the first order of business. Only after that, you should start building the beverage menu.
When deciding what kind of beverages to serve, you should have all the dishes from your menu in mind. From seafood dishes to different types of pasta - creating drink and food pairings should be your next priority. Stay away from trendy drinks if they won’t go well with any of the food you serve, as this won’t do anything for the customer experience.
A good idea you should try when possible is to implement some options and see what customers think about them. Add some dishes and drinks to your menu as temporary offers and speak with your waiters and bar staff to pay attention what people like most.
Another great way to gather information is by using beverage inventory software. When you use software such as BinWise Pro, you will be able to see what type of drinks your customers consume most. This can give you a great understanding of what should be implemented in your permanent or seasonal menu.
Great Non-Alcoholic Drink and Food Pairings to Try
There are countless options when it comes to non-alcoholic drink and food pairings you can create. But to help you with this huge task of narrowing down your options, we’ve created a list for inspiration:
- Strawberry sparkling mocktail drink with grilled chicken Caesar salad is a refreshing combination that many people will love.
- Virgin Mojitos go nicely with fish tacos with mango salsa, which give a tropical feel.
- Cucumber basil smash would pair perfectly with Caprese skewers or a traditional Caprese salad.
- Watermelon agua fresca is a great drink to have with spicy chicken wings. The sweetness of the drink balances perfectly the spiciness of the wings.
- Pineapple ginger punch can be combined with Asian stir-fried noodles.
- Hibiscus iced tea can be paired with goat cheese and beet salad.
- Virgin Pina Colada is the perfect drink to have with coconut shrimp.
- Blueberry lemonade is the beverage to combine with grilled salmon with lemon butter sauce.
- Apple ginger fizz is what you can serve with BBQ pulled pork sliders.
You can also create a lot of your own combination and even unique drinks. If you want to make some mocktails that will stand out from the rest, you can always work with a cocktail expert. They can help tremendously with creating drinks that fit the food in your restaurant and look on brand.
Frequently Asked Questions about Non-Alcoholic Drink and Food Pairings
If you want to learn more about drink and food pairings, check out the answers to these frequently asked questions. They will give you more helpful insights on how to cater to people who prefer non-alcoholic drinks!
What Non-Alcoholic Drink Goes Well with Chocolate?
Tea is a unique drink loved by so many, so it should not be underestimated. It goes great with different types of dessert and if you want to elevate the experience at your restaurant, definitely look into that.
What Non-Alcoholic Drinks Go Well With Pizza?
Pizza goes well with a bunch of non-alcoholic drinks but the best ones would be sparkling water, soda, milk, lemonade, and iced tea. Some mocktails would be a great pairing, too.
Wine lists are great but some people prefer having their pizza with no-alcohol drinks. The good news is that these options are very common and you probably already have them on your menu.
What Food Goes with Non-Alcoholic Beer?
Non-alcoholic beer goes with a large number of meals, such as spaghetti and meatballs, curry, sushi, fried chicken, and pizza. This makes non-alcoholic beer kind of a must-have for any restaurant menu.
If you are in the hospitality industry, try to have options for the beer lovers. They will really appreciate the fact that you are thinking about designated drivers and people who can’t have alcohol for health reasons.
What Are Some Popular Non-Alcoholic Beverages for Food Pairings?
Common non-alcoholic beverages for food pairings include sparkling water, herbal teas, specialty sodas, iced coffee, fruit juices, and non-alcoholic beer or wine. If you have these beverages on menu, you will provide many great drink and food pairings to your customers.
How Do I Choose the Right Non-Alcoholic Beverage for a Particular Dish?
The beverage should complement the flavors, textures, and intensity of the food. Lighter dishes may pair well with citrusy or herbal drinks, while hearty or spicy foods can be complemented by robust options.
Can You Pair Non-Alcoholic Beverages With Desserts?
Non-alcoholic drinks like herbal tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or fruit-infused sparkling water can enhance the sweetness and richness of desserts. Have your staff recommend some of these when a customer asks for dessert. This is a sure way to enhance customer experience!