Pioneered by Mark Livings of Kinetic Marketing and his business partners Mick Hall and Carl Hartmann, the trio founded Zero Proof and spent two years working on developing the range and in particular making sure of the quality and authenticity of the drinks they are bringing to market.
“We’ve been working on this almost as long as Seedlip has been around,” Livings told TheShout. “It’s taken us over two years to perfect the recipes we’ve used to create these. We didn’t know if what we were attempting to do was possible, and we were adamant we wouldn’t release it if we weren’t proud of the contents of the bottle as a viable alternative.”
Unlike Seedlip, which is a gin-style product, Lyre’s has the wider range and Livings said that what the team really wanted to bring to market was a system of drinks that are friendly to bartenders and consumers.
“Our guiding principles were: can we help bartenders make classics, and their own favourite cocktails, and to make a non-alcoholic version, all they’d need to do is reach for a single bottle. That was our principle.”
There is an increased consumer demand for healthier, lower and zero alcohol products and Livings said there are a few addressable markets for Lyre’s to play into.
“The first one is millennials – they’re making much better life choices,” Livings said. “They’re more mindful with their consumption, around food and beverage. Alcohol for them isn’t hedonism and excess, it’s indulgence and enjoyment.
“So we see the ability to offer that particular target market the time-tested beautiful flavours that they’re used to in an alcoholic range, in a non-alcoholic range.”
He added: “Then we’ve got women who are pregnant. I’m of the age where everyone is having kids or has had kids, and when I explain this range to them they have two questions – what does it taste like and when can I buy it?
“For them, there’s a lot of ritual around that evening drink when you go home, wind down and pour yourself a G&T, Bourbon and coke or whatever it is that is your choice. And that’s a really important moment when a couple will bond, share a drink, share stories of their day and move on. But a lot of people are now saying ‘I don’t actually want to drink during the week’ or ‘I want those alcohol-free days’, and this is giving them a real alternative.
“They can still enjoy that flavour and enjoy that occasion, that pageantry and theatre around it, but without the alcohol.”
Another market that Livings said Lyre’s will attract is those who are partaking in a period of abstinence, either for events like Dry July or as part of an overall fitness program.
“One of the things that people are loving when we describe the range to them is ‘I can still take on those challenges and transform my body, but I don’t need to sacrifice this part of my life, which is really important for me in terms of decompression and social glue’,” Livings told TheShout.
“Then we have the boomer population. For that particular generation there is a real importance in ducking down to the pub or other social events like bridge club. So it’s really important that we can continue to offer them the beverages that they’ve grown to love over the course of a lifetime and that they find synonymous with letting go and social indulgence and connecting with other humans. We can continue to offer that to them, albeit without alcohol included.
“So that’s why non-alcohol spirits are highly, highly relevant. They’re in exceptionally high growth and there’s more market demand than there are products to satisfy demand at the moment.”
HOW TO DRINK LYRE’S
The Lyre’s range comprises a gin, bourbon and whisky as well as a white rum, spiced rum and a dark rum. In addition there is a dry vermouth and a sweet rosso vermouth plus a range of liqueurs in absinthe, triple-sec, amaretto and a coffee liqueur.
Livings said: “What that means, coming back to that guiding principle – helping bar staff simply reach for a different bottle – we can cover pretty much the entirety of the top 10 cocktails by demand, that’s from the Old Fashioned down to the classic Martini, Daiquiris, Espresso Martini, Manhattans – which are enormous in the US – even Sazeracs with our absinthe.”
The focus for the Zero Proof team has been on getting the Lyre’s range as close to their alcohol equivalent and that has seen them take on some big challenges in food science using natural ingredients. But Livings does admit “there is still a gap”, so he has these recommendations.
“First of all we don’t recommend that people use these as sipping, don’t sip it like a whisky and so on. The second thing, they absolutely shine when they’re used in cocktails and mixers. Thirdly, and this is in our training program, they need to be handled slightly differently to their alcohol brothers and sisters.
“Because they have a water base, water is the enemy of these. So if you’re looking at a classic cocktail like a Martini, water is a really important ingredient and that comes from the ice during shaking or stirring. So one of the things we need to train the trade on is only shake to instill a drop in temperature, not to produce further ice melt in the beverage because you do reduce that flavour intensity.
“These are as intense as we can make them in terms of flavour. If we put any more core ingredient in there, it precipitates into a solid. So we’re on the very, very edge of what the food technology that’s available to us will permit us to do.
“But, like I said, we’re really proud of these and we think they stack up really nicely against their alcohol brothers and sisters.”
The Lyre’s range will be available in Australia from next month and will be distributed by Swift & Moore, watch out for Friday’s edition of TheShout, to find out more about this incredible new range.