NEW BEDFORD — As major events begin returning to the region, an old trend is making a comeback: accommodating non-drinking attendees with discount ticket and bonus opportunities.
Buttonwood Park Zoo’s recent Red, White & Brew event offered a lower priced tickets to designated drivers (DD).
“Many non-drinkers still enjoy the event, and we are happy to offer them a discounted ticket,” said Sarah Henry, acting executive director for the zoo.
“We hope it would incentivize groups to bring a designated driver, so they can enjoy the event responsibly.”
Henry said the zoo sold 34 “DD tickets” for the event. DDs were given specific wristbands and received a reusable BPZOO cup for unlimited fountain drinks from the Bear’s Den Cafe.
On June 25, the Coastal Wine Trail’s Wine, Cheese, & Chocolate Festival in Westport is also offering a DD ticket at a fraction of the cost of the main event, for guests to sample everything except the wine.
Discounted tickets for DDs and non-drinkers started trending in 2015, but it increased in popularity during the pandemic.
In St. Louis, Missouri, DDs at St. Louis Cardinals games score a free MLB keychain and sodas. Sober drivers are also entered in a raffle for prize, in the past winning tickets to the World Series.
“People want to not be intoxicated but still want to be part of the bar life,” said Boston’s OAK Long Bar + Kitchen bartender Matthew Garofalo in a USAToday article.
The rise of the mocktail
Mocktails, creative mixed drinks with no alcohol, continue to rise in popularity in North America as well.
On Memorial Day weekend, Kilburn Mill is hosting a Beach, Booze & Buffett Summer Celebration which will also have mocktails for non-drinkers at the bar.
“We will have an alcohol-free pina colada, blueberry lemonade and raspberry Ricky,” said Robb DeSimone, general manager of Kilburn Hospitality Group.
“The hospitality industry should be all about inclusion,” DeSimone added. “Offering guests who don’t want to drink alcohol interesting cocktail alternatives lets these guests know they are important to you, and welcomes them to the party.”
New Bedford’s annual Craft Beer and Food Truck Festa at Madeira Field, tries to offer non-drinking guests some fun with non-alcoholic frozen drinks.
The virgin pina colada, virgin margarita, virgin mojito and Arnold Palmer are also favorites.
At Cultivator Shoals in New Bedford, the bar offers a fun take on a Cosmopolitan called the “Sophisticated Lady” which is cranberry juice, lime juice, cucumber and a pinch of salt.
As for more events coming up at the Buttonwood Park Zoo, Henry said they will continue to offer a non-drinker discount option in the future.
Standard-Times staff writer Seth Chitwood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.