Demand Change

Demand Change

(or ask for it nicely in an email)

Here’s me enjoying a delightful glass of non-alc bubbles in my local (this did not happen overnight or by accident). Read the case study HERE.

As much as we’d like, hospitality providers are not mind readers and alcohol has dominated our culture for far too long. Whilst some are excelling, the majority are not reading the room, they don’t see the growth in the alcohol free space.

It is up to us, the consumer to ask for change and show the demand.

It can feel a whole lot of awkward to ask for something that’s not on the menu. But if we don’t ask, the “there’s no demand” rhetoric will stick.

So here are my top tips:

  • I go NOWHERE these days without doing my research. Turning up and hoping for the best is too much of an emotional rollercoaster, so it’s best to be prepared. Jump online, suss out the drinks list, if you can’t find one, ASK.

  • If they have options you’re happy with, GREAT. Enjoy! If not, reach out any which way you are comfortable, DM, email, phone, carrier pigeon or face-to-face.

  • Let them know you’re coming, ask for a better solution (examples I’ve gone with below… cut and paste to your heart’s content).

  • If you’re not happy with the outcome, decide if you can live with it. There’s nothing worse than sulking through a meal (I’ve learnt that the hard way). Either choose a different venue or suck it up and sit on your soda water.

In my experience

These are some of the words I have used over the past few months with varying success. I’d say its around 50/50 in terms of being allowed to BYO wine. You’ll need to be prepared to PAY for the privilege. I’ve been charged up to $25 corkage. Sometimes not. It seems a lot, but in all fairness to venues they are in the business of making money and when you’re not paying upwards of $50 on wine, this is a good compromise.

My Top Tips
  • Emphasising that it’s a REALLY special occasion (even if it’s not, be creative) will help.

  • The longer the lead time the better. Gives them the opportunity to sort something out if that is what they want to do. The other tactic is the surprise arrival. Turn up with wine in hand and catch them off guard. I prefer to be mentally prepared, but I know people have had success with this.

  • If you’re comfortable, drop the A bomb. Even if you don’t consider yourself an alcoholic, it’s going to read like you’re not just being difficult for the sake of it.

  • Be NICE. There’s no point in being confrontational unless they really dig in.

  • Sometimes even though you get a no on all fronts, it opens up an opportunity for discussion with the proprietor about alcohol free. It may be something they have never considered.

Example 1 - Socials

You: Hi, I am booked in for a very special wedding anniversary with you in a few weeks time. I don’t drink alcohol. I have had a look at your drinks menu and can see two juice based mocktails. Did you have any other non alcoholic options? If not would you be open to my BYO’ing a bottle of non-alc wine? It’s such a special occasion and I would love to be able to celebrate it with my husband. I find wine compliments an amazing meal so much better than a mocktail. I would of course be prepared to pay corkage.

Them: No sorry, we have a very strict no BYO policy*.

You: Ok, understandable. In that case, given the lead time, could you possibly procure a bottle for me? There’s some great product that is readily available.

Them: That could work. Please shoot through some suggestions

*Note: I have sometimes tried to push on this ridiculous policy without much joy. Legally it’s not a thing, but if they have made up their mind it’s often hard to change.

Example 2 - Email


I have a booking at XXXXXX later in the month and couldn’t be more excited.

I have always enjoyed my XXX food and Wine experiences so so much.

I am a recovering alcoholic (7 months) and often find the need to plan ahead with a venue so I get the right experience. I have looked at your extensive Drinks menu and found 2 virgin offerings on the menu. Is this all that is offered? I would much prefer to pair what sounds like an amazing menu with a quality Alcohol free Blanc de blancs or sparkling. There are some great options in an ever expanding market. Is there the potential for something like this to be made available for the occasion, or failing that could I BYO and pay corkage?

I know there is not much precedent for this but if us non drinkers don’t speak up then nothing will ever change.

I just can’t do a mocktail with food as exquisite as what’s on offer at this special event.

Your consideration is greatly appreciated.

Phone & Face-to-Face

My suggestion here is WAIT.

If you aren’t 100% confident in your argument it can be all too easy to lose track of what you really want to say and give up sooner than you’d like. You don’t want a mind-blank situation!

Whichever tactic you DO take, remember you won’t be successful every time, it’s easy to become disheartened. But it won’t be like this forever. And what may feel like a fail is still a win. By asking, you’re still showing that venue, there is demand for non alcoholic drinks. It might be a no for now, but you’ve planted a seed.

Remember: The Squeaky Wheel gets the oil!