Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 584

7 13 J ANUARY 202 2 welcome change Nicola Bates says the NoLo trend is on the rise 7 QUESTIONS WITH… KATY WIX The actor and writer on cake, resolutions and the best thing about being a ghost Photography: © StockFood, James Hacker, Club Soda, Faye Thomas of Latin-American inspired NoLo spirits brand Caleño, whose awardwinning rumalternatives, Dark and Spicy, and Light and Zesty, are proving a hit atWaitrose. Like Karolina, Ellie was inspired by her experience of Dry January. “I became frustrated by the dullness of non-alcoholic drinks,” she recalls. “Then on a visit to family in Colombia, it struckme that what the non-alcoholic space needed was joy and excitement.” Back in Bristol, she experimented in her kitchen, o ering the results to local restaurants and bars. Five years on, the company has expanded into five other European countries. Personal experience was also key for former city lawyer Rob Fink, CEO and founder of Big Drop, an 0.5%ABV beer, which is sold inWaitrose. “Big Drop is for people who love beer, but don’t have time for its consequences,” he adds. “Youmight, likeme, have young kids who need a lot of attention, youmight be training for a race, youmight be more conscious of what you consume.” Rob quit alcohol for sixmonths after the birth of his first son in 2014. “I still needed to do business development for my law firm that typically involved long boozy lunches and realised the quality of o erings wasn’t great. I did have reservations when we started out,” he says of the brewery that launched in 2016. “We were, as far as I knew, the first company ever dedicated entirely to non-alcoholic beer. And usually if something’s not been done before, there’s a reason. But I knew there was a market for it – it’s just that what was on o er wasn’t very good.” Until recently, beer and cider have been leading the NoLo charge but Nicola says: “We’re seeing an uptick in spirits and the wine sector is investing massively in innovation, so we can expect that to grow.” NoLo is clearly gainingmomentum, as Karolina observes: “Quitting alcohol was always viewed as a last-resort choice for problemdrinkers,” she says. “I went fromworking an unfulfilling 9-5 job, feeling stuck in life, and drinking each weekend to unwind. “I’ve been alcohol-free for four years – it’s the best decision of my life.” for NoLo almost doubled from 11% in 2020 to 20% in 2021, according to the survey. Themain reason cited was the ability to drive home from social events followed by a desire to socialise without drinking to excess. An ambition to improve health was alsomentioned. The pull on our purse strings has also played a part, according toMintel’s global food and drink analyst Martin Pasco: “Although the UK economy seems to have dodged a deep recession, if consumer confidence weakens, the rationale for moderation (in terms of savingmoney, performance at work and health) is likely to gain ground.” In a sign of the times, the UK’s first alcohol-free pop-up o -licence opened o London’s Regent Street and is there until the end of January. The store, fromMindful Drinking Festival creator Club Soda, stocks 70-plus brands. WithGordon’s, Tanqueray, Guinness andHeineken all o ering zero-alcohol versions of traditional tipples, the NoLo trend looks set to stay. InWaitrose, the sector grewby 67% in 2021 compared with 2020, withNoLo spirits seeing an 86% increase, followed by beer (78%), wine (38%) and cider (25%). Until now, one hurdle for people who choose tomoderate alcohol intake and drinkmoremindfully has been a lack of intensity and complexity of flavour in alternatives. But this is changing, with a new generation of independent producers such as EllieWebb, founder ‘Even one or two drinks lowered my mood. I decided to take another break and haven’t looked back’ going low Rob Fink created Big Drop 0.5% ABV beer ( left); alcoholfree pop-up store Club Soda in London (below) 1 Where are you? In my living room in south London. I can see rooftops, pigeons, scaffolding silhouetted against a dark sky – and neighbours having a row. 2 Best thing to happen to you so far today? A cancellation early this morning meant I could go back to bed for a bit. I was very happy about that. 3 Five words to describe your book Delicacy? Moving, clever, witty, poetic and truthful. It’s also a memoir about cake and death. What cake would I die for? An oatcake. 4 Best thing about January? The relief of Christmas being over! I like it but it can be a very emotionally heightened time too, with a certain pressure to enjoy it. 5 Have you made any new year resolutions? I don’t believe in them and have stopped making them. The last time I made one was when I was a teen, and it was to stop biting my nails. I just came to the slow realisation that they don’t work. I still bite them. 6 What advice would you give your 13-year-old self? That it’s OK to tell the truth. 7 Favourite things about playing Mary in the hit BBC sitcom Ghosts? As she’s quite eccentric, I have a lot of freedom with the character. Mary is from the 17th century and the many layers of underskirts I wear, as part of the period dress, keep me warm in the freezing house we älm in. Fun fact: the costume is loosely based on the Johannes Vermeer painting, The Milkmaid. Katy Wix’s Delicacy: A Memoir About Cake and Death (Headline) is out in paperback on 27 January. Interview: Nick Neads