Non-alcoholic ‘alcohols’ are becoming increasingly popular. This is in response to people seeking a healthier lifestyle and becoming more aware of their drinking habits. The market for non-alcoholic beer grew 5% in 2016 whilst global consumption of traditional beer dropped in both 2015 and 2016. Research also showed that a third of Britons had tried alcohol-free beer with it becoming particularly popular with women and millennials. According to the Office of National Statistics around a fifth of British adults under 25 are teetotal.

Whereas previously the only option for non-drinkers was fizzy drinks or lime and soda, non-alcoholic ‘alcohols’ provide a more suitable alternative for dedicated drivers and those who chose not to drink alcohol.

Creating more ‘grown up’ beverages for the adult market – which are alcohol free – can be a challenge; however innovative solutions are making their way into the sector. We spoke to Kamila Sitwell Co-founder and creator of Kolibri drinks –a new bespoke drink which allows consumers to tailor the sweetness to their taste through the ‘Kolibri drops’ stored in the cap.

Sonia Sharma: Why did you decide to create Kolibri drinks?

Kamila Sitwell: “There is nothing like Kolibri in the market, an experience where discerning guests are put in control of their drinks’ taste and sweetness while having fun co-creating their bespoke drinks. Modern hospitality is about catering to all consumers’ needs, whatever their diet, taste preference or occasion. No-one-size-fits-all anymore.

Modern customers want a healthy, great tasting and indulgent drink – all at the same time. They also want an experience, ritual and theatre in this area too. With the decline in alcohol consumption accelerating, influencer brands must offer and present alcohol-free drinks which will delight their guests which are on a par with their alcoholic creations.”

SS: The alcohol free beverage comes in three flavours – Cardomon and Chilli, Strawberry and Basil and Elderflower and Lime. What makes Kolibri drinks different to other botanical beverages on the market?

KS: Modern guests enjoy the multi-sensory experience Kolibri offers – the aromatic botanical scent, sophisticated adult flavours, the golden liquid blending theatrically in the glass and the control of ingredients to their individual taste.

It’s a sea of sameness out there. Sugar, like any natural ingredient, is only a problem when it’s over-engineered in recipes. Kolibri Drinks are designed to give guests complete control over their drinks’ taste and the sugar content.  And the best part, the ‘twist in the cap’, is that Kolibri has no more than 40 Kcal per bottle even when all the Kolibri Drops are used.

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Until now soft drinks offered no such experiences. The new range is expected to be priced on menus at around £6-£7, providing a premium soft drinks choice which doesn’t involve bar tender skills, and offers a good operating margin.

SS: The idea for Kolibri arose whilst you were out one evening. What sparked the idea?

KS: “We all ordered homemade lemonade. It should have been an easy order for the barman, except it wasn’t! We all expected the drink to match our own taste preference. The barman had to re-create the order one drink at a time, mixed to each individual taste. All the insights, industry knowledge and trends I studied for years suddenly made so much sense – the future of the soft drinks must be bespoke.”