Will our growing enthusiasm for low-alcohol drinking change the very culture of the City?
Christi Tronetti, marketing director at creative agency isobel, says YES.
If New York is the city that never sleeps, London has always been the city that never stops drinking. When I first moved here from NYC, I thought I could drink – and then I became friends with some Brits.
But I’ve seen a real shift over the past few years. And there’s a raft of low-alcohol (and, indeed, no-alcohol) entrepreneurs who’ve noticed too, tempting people away from their pints – especially 16-24-year-olds, 25 per cent of whom are teetotal, according to the Office for National Statistics.
As this younger group filters into the workforce and the old-school boozers continue to filter out, bars and pubs are going to have to change their game. It’s already happening.
No one is saying that the pub is dead. Londoners will always want to unwind after a brutal work week, enjoy a cosy Sunday roast with friends, or raise a glass to welcome a new co-worker.
But we’re finally getting the “less is more” message. Things in the City will start to look very different now that the beer goggles are off.
David Buik, market commentator at Core Spreads, says NO.
As a young man in the mid 1960s, it took me some time to adjust to the City’s lunchtime drinking habits when entertaining clients.
It went like this: a large gin and tonic, half a bottle of Pomerol to wash down a prime fillet steak, two large Grand Marniers, then reeling back to the office to execute the “thank-you” trade, before visiting the Flying Horse for a couple of pints of Bass prior to heading home.
The advent of Big Bang, hugely influenced by the US investment banks, put this culture of lunchtime drinking to the sword. But even the trans-Atlantic culture shift didn’t dry out the City – it just changed the time schedule, as drinking, food and revelry became evening events. Little has changed.
Today, “low-alcohol drinking” is increasing in popularity, but there is little evidence of this trend in the Square Mile, where the juice of Bacchus plays slightly more than a spear-carrying role in City life. It survived the Americans, and it can survive this new trend.
But never at lunchtime – there’s a time and a place for indulgence.