Page 28 - 04-June-2024
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“Gen Z spends like $20 or $30. They don’t really value alcohol like we did.”
— Keenan Pascal
That’s the thinking behind Spilt, a new spot on Jasper Avenue that not only serves mocktails, but sells items so you can make them at home. The bar doubles as a class- room, where people can learn how to make interesting non-alcoholic drinks. And, it also serves as a base for a catering service.
It’s the work of partners JoAnne Pearce, of Mock-Ups Mocktails fame, Andrew Paul, and Keenan Pascal
of Token Naturals. They’ve seen the trends. Younger drinkers aren’t consuming as much alcohol. Bar bills are getting smaller.
“We’re seeing changes in the sizes of bar bills in bars and restaurants, especially from the younger generation,” says Pascal. “We used to be part of the bar scene once upon a time, and we were spending $60, $80 a person
on a night out. Now, Gen Z spends like $20 or $30. They don’t really value alcohol like we did.”
There are other factors, too. Drinking isn’t as socially celebrated as it used to be. We understand that it’s not cool to pressure a non-drinker into drinking. The “just one drink isn’t going to kill you” adage is now a social faux- pas. And, Gen Z is savvy about social media, too — they understand that “blackout drunk” can lead to “viral video of me doing something stupid that I will never live down.”
But it doesn’t mean that the non-alcohol drinkers want to settle for cans of pop or bottles of juice when they’re at events or out on the town. They want to feel special, too.
And you don’t need to fool them with imitation drinks, either.
“I fear that mocktails will become like how diet yogurt is sold to women,” says Pearce, who stopped drinking earlier in the COVID pandemic, and then started making her own non-alcoholic creations using herbs, juices and homemade syrups. She also uses dealcoholized spirits, such as bourbon, as flavour enhancers, but they’re awfully expensive and she doesn’t believe they make great bases for drinks.
“The options out there weren’t very good,” she says. “They all had this sort of foraging, witchy vibe.
“And then there are a lot of [mocktails] parading around, and they’re really just sodas or juices.”
As her consulting and catering business grew, the
idea eventually came for Spilt. Located near the corner of 119th Street and Jasper Avenue, the decor features the kind of angular, 1980s pencil drawings that feel like you’ve walked into a three-dimensional rendering of Duran Duran album art. As we get together in the space, Journey plays in the background.
“We don’t need a carbon copy of cocktail culture,” says Pearce. “That seems unimaginative.”
Pearce and Paul have been catering, as those host-
ing big events understand that the non-alcohol drinker deserves something a little more refined than cans of pop or weak coffee. And Pearce has been consulting restau- rants and helping them build their mocktail menus. Paul says that there isn’t much difference between creating cocktails and creating dishes.
“It comes from a culinary perspective,” says Paul. “We have all these great dishes that we all know and love. We all come across that one sauce, where we think ‘I could just drink this, it’s so good.’ How do we take those flavours we know and love and turn them into a beverage?”
The sauce analogy goes deeper. Paul had a favourite duck sauce he’d created using Haskaps from Rosy Farms (featured in our May issue) which he turned into a mocktail. He and Pearce tweaked that mocktail into a Haskap Citrus Chili Sangria, which became the first product in Token Bitters’ and Mock-Ups Mocktails’ bottled mocktail line. Pearce contributed to the mocktail menu at Barbacoa, the renowned steak spot in Spruce Grove. Now, the restaurant has created a sauce using the mocktail that Pearce created.
“It was a sauce, that became a mocktail, and it’s gone back to being a sauce,” laughs Pearce. “It’s the circle of life.” ED.

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