As the ‘Dry January’ movement becomes more and more popular, two of the strongest advocates for NA (Non-Alcoholic) have joined forces to show that abstinence doesn’t have to mean the abolition of your social life.
Presented in some of their favourite bars in some of their favourite US cities, Seedlip and The Pin Project are presenting a series of masterclasses, tastings and discussions. Laura Lashley, the National Education Manager for Seedlip USA, believes that these events are sending a timely message, not only to the bar industry but the community as a whole.
”There is a big push now for Dry January in the US and with a lot of consumers and bartenders taking time off from drinking, so we thought it would be a good time to team up and put on a little bit of a tour together,” she said.
Lashley explains that the first hour of the events is a non-alcoholic masterclass, where they talk about Seedlip in particular, explaining who they are and what they’re about. The events will then feature non-alcoholic cocktails by Nicolas Torres from True Laurel, Candice Jae from The Hideout and Kat Bushnell of Evil Eye.
“We’ve teamed up with three bartenders from San Francisco who are passionate NA drink advocates,” says Lashley. “They use some of that time to talk about their cocktails, their menu development process and why they think NA drinks are important to serve in their bars.
Lashley, says they then, most importantly, go on to discuss what their process is for making cocktails that are actually really good non-alcoholic drinks.
The rest of the event is left to spirits industry professional Mark Goodwin to explain his mission with The Pin Project. “Mark’s been in the bar industry for a long time and he talks about the importance of having a non-verbal communication tool for people who are choosing not to drink,” she said.
The Pin Project was funded by the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Grant in 2018 and is, as Lashley points out, a collective of bartenders and service industry professionals who are using a pin as a non-verbal form of communication to let people around them know they are making the choice not to imbibe.
“No matter whether it’s for an hour or a night or forever, the Pin can be used as a way to hold themselves accountable,” says Lashley. “But more importantly, it’s a way to say to the people around them, “Hey, this is what I’m doing. Please support me.” And then we drink NA drinks.”
Lashley explains that she wanted the events to highlight the work of The Pin Project, both for those in the industry and consumer alike. “My intention with these events was to raise awareness of The Pin Project,” said Lashley.
“They’re a San Francisco/Bay Area thing at the moment and I wanted the pins and what they mean to get much more visibility around the US. We’re definitely focusing a lot on the pin as well as on Seedlip.”
So far, the ‘tour’ has appeared at True Laurel in San Francisco and Navy Strength in Seattle and Lashley has been delighted with the turnout. “The first event was in the Bay Area, which is where The Pin Project is based, so I would say that the event there was probably 90% bar industry and chefs and hospitality people.
“But then the event we just hosted in Seattle was actually a really interesting mix,” she continued. “There was definitely a lot of bartenders there but also some consumers, some home bartenders and some food and drink writers. So, it was a good, interesting audience and I think we’ll keep seeing a mix in the different cities.”
The events have two more locations to cover before the end of the month. The first will be The Normandie Club in Los Angeles (on the 23rd January) and then the last will be held at Lost Lake in Chicago (on the 30th January).
Lashley believes the events will only get bigger, especially in Chicago, which she believes will be their biggest and busiest of the events.
“There’s kind of a misconception that because it’s a Midwestern drinking town that Seedlip will be tough there or that the idea of NA is not as welcome, but with my travels with Seedlip for the last couple of years, I’ve found that Chicago’s probably one of our best markets because the food culture is very innovative there and the hospitality industry is really strong and tight-knit.”