Dry January has never been cooler thanks to Anya Hindmarch CBE, the award-winning British Designer who has turned her attention to the new wave of ‘low or no’ alcohol drinks.
For a limited time only, Hindmarch has teamed up with The Dry Drinker to launch a booze-free off license in her Anya Village in the heart of London. Located on Belgravia’s Pont Street this little village of stores was a response to the internet and the changing purpose of retail. “We need to give people a reason to visit in person” says Hindmarch “or why not just do it online? We wanted to reinvent the experience as fun and interesting and create a platform for things we care about and that matter to our community of followers”.
In this creative haven, The Village Hall is an ever-changing space and now it is a bright blue off-license styled like any you may find on your local Highstreet, with one key difference. This one only stocks a plethora of ‘low or no’ options. Hindmarch was inspired by her children, who she noted drink far less than her own generation and this curiosity spurred her on to create a place where sophisticated, tasty drinks are easily available. “The younger generation do not want to drink every day and neither do I” says Hindmarch “but you don’t want to look like some bore clutching a glass of tap water either”.
There is a wide range of beverages to try, from those which are modelled on alcoholic versions of wine and beer to others which aim to be delicious drinks in their own right. Since opening, the off license has been “rammed” with people doing dry January, hard-core teetotallers, pregnant women, and those who are just curious about what else might be available. “People feel included” says Hindmarch “and it is cool to be curious”.
“I still drink on a Friday night, but I don’t feel like giving up the next day for the sake of not looking boring to someone else. I don’t want to feel guilty about it and it doesn’t mean I’m any less fun. People can be worried about being rude for declining a drink” but choosing not to drink alcohol is becoming rapidly more popular and respected. “This isn’t about saying people can’t drink but things change, like the attitude towards smoking”. Increasingly, people care more about their mental and physical health.
“The placebo effect is really interesting” continues Hindmarch. There is still that sense of ceremony about opening a cold bottle of 0.5% beer or popping the cork on some alcohol-free bubbly. “It still gives you that break between the workday and the evening”.
Dry Drinker was the obvious partner for Hindmarch as this was where she already bought her husband’s no-alcohol beers and “I always loved the name and the service. They have fantastic tasting notes and give great advice”. Stuart Elkington, the founder of Dry Drinker, agrees that “partnering with Anya to bring a momentary third dimension to our business for the first time was a no-brainer. Anya is a visionary who is genuinely interested in the no and low subject but comes at it from a place of zero judgment and fun, and that’s really key in my opinion”.
Elkington continues “No and low is a movement now but will become the norm. It’s important to present a platform where consumers can see the huge array of quality products now available to them if they choose to give up drinking, be it for an evening or forever. The important thing is it’s moved from being taboo to being mainstream and the sheer number of brands who have sat up and acted is testament to this. Innovation and investment are being poured into the no and low sector, it’s a really important moment”.
When asked about what she hopes The Dry Drinker off-license will achieve Hindmarch concludes “I like the idea that it prompts people to think about what they are consuming and to visit the village and enjoy our approach to experiential retail. We want to take people on a journey of the things we care about”.
The Dry Drinker Off License is open until 10 February.
Libby’s top picks:
Wine: Thomas & Scott’s Noughty Organic sparkling chardonnay is the best alcohol-free wine I have ever tried. Sophisticated and elegant you would be hard pressed to tell it is alcohol free.
Spirits: Clean Co’s Clean T is a 0% tequila by teetotal convert Made In Chelsea’s Spencer Matthews. It’s a bottle that would look cool in any drinks cabinet and makes the perfect hangover-free margarita.
This article first appeared in City A.M.