Diving Into Non-Alcohol

The Lucas Bols Co. is making a big play in this small but growing segment.

The Lucas Bols Co. is betting big on the zero-proof spirits segment with a wide array of non-alcohol products, including (from left) Damrak Virgin 0.0 gin, the Fluère lineup, and Pallini Limonzero.
The Lucas Bols Co. is betting big on the zero-proof spirits segment with a wide array of non-alcohol products, including (from left) Damrak Virgin 0.0 gin, the Fluère lineup, and Pallini Limonzero.

Spirits companies big and small have entered the burgeoning non-alcohol spirits sector, but few are doing it with a commitment like The Lucas Bols Co. Known for its wide-ranging portfolio of liqueurs and its genever products, Lucas Bols has made a solid investment in the zero-proof space with three brands: Pallini Limonzero, a non-alcoholic version of its popular Pallini Limoncello; Damrak Virgin 0.0, a zero-proof offshoot of Damrak gin; and Fluère, a portfolio of five non-alcohol spirits inspired by traditional spirits categories. Together, the breadth of zero-proof labels from The Lucas Bols Co. is positioning the company as a leader in the non-alcohol space.

“This category has shown steady double-digit growth for the last three years and there’s a long way to go to explore its full potential,” says Tanya Cohn, senior brand manager for The Lucas Bols Co.’s non-alcohol portfolio and its Pallini, Galliano, and Damrak brands. “Plus, the base is still quite small, which is great news for producers like us, as the category is full of opportunities and set for growth.”

As Bols’ traditional spirits portfolio has become a staple for mixology programs, the company hopes its non-alcohol offerings will follow suit. Cohn notes that bars around the county are adding zero-proof cocktails to their menus and are looking for high-quality ingredients to use in those drinks, and she adds that the company has created a full roster of at-home cocktail recipes to attract off-premise consumers too. In addition, Cohn says that because the Pallini Limonzero and Damrak Virgin labels already have full-proof siblings established in the market, they’re easy for consumers to embrace for a variety of applications. 

“As our spirits portfolio has evolved, we see this as the next opportunity in having a one-stop solution across the emerging non-alcohol category,” says Lucas Bols Co. managing director Brett Dunne. “As a company where liqueurs are the core of our business, low-alcohol has always been a focus for us. No-alcohol is the next logical evolution for our portfolio.”

Pallini Limonzero ($25 a 750-ml.) is made with the same Sfusato lemons from the Amalfi Coast as its limoncello portfoliomate. The offering launched online earlier this year and will expand throughout the company’s distribution network this summer. The gin alternative Damrak Virgin 0.0 ($30) first debuted in 2021 and is receiving renewed support this year. Distilled in Amsterdam using ten key botanicals, the zero-proof gin maintains Damrak’s citrus-forward signature flavor. 

Bols acquired the Fluère portfolio in January, purchasing it from two Dutch entrepreneurs for €1 million ($1.09 million). At the time of acquisition, Fluère included four labels: Original, which is reminiscent of gin and boasts flavors of coriander, lime, lavender, and juniper; Raspberry Blend, which uses Original as its base but adds raspberry for a sweeter fruit flavor; Spiced Cane, a rum-esque label made from Dominican sugar cane with notes of chocolate and coffee; and Smoked Agave, a mezcal-inspired offering distilled from agave and smoked with hickory (the portfolio retails for $35 a 750-ml.). Fluère Bitter, a zero-proof bittersweet herbal offering, was added a few months ago. 

“Currently, both on- and off-premise channels are growing, but we do see more play in the on-premise as operators become more educated on the quality offerings within the non-alcoholic category,” says Dunne. “We currently service over 50,000 on-premise accounts nationally, so there are definite synergies we can realize to help support the category’s growth there.”

Cohn adds that the future looks bright for non-alcoholic spirits. She points to New York and California as leading markets but says that customers in the nation’s heartland, Midwest, and mid-Atlantic are also showing interest in zero-proof spirits. “Interest has been extremely high so far,” Cohn says. “As this category continues to gain traction and evolve, the future of non-alcoholic spirits looks promising. It’s being driven by consumer demand, and by better and more plentiful supply as more brands enter the category, as well as by consumer education and support from the hospitality industry.”