Why Offer Non-Alcoholic Spirits

May 13, 2021
Words by Lauren Ertl
Photos courtesy of Spiritless

Over her 14 years of running two Kentucky-based event planning companies, Lauren Chitwood planned events large and small, from luxury weddings to corporate gatherings and everything in between. Her goal across the years was to help people create inclusive party environments. According to alcohol.org, 30% of the population identify as a “non-drinker.” Lauren encountered this population at almost every event she held. Find out how the company Lauren Chitwood co-founded and is now CEO of, Spiritless, came about and get her tips for your event in our interview below:

Q: First, I would love to know more about your company, Spiritless, and how it came about?
A: Spiritless was really born out of a need that we saw in the marketplace as we were hosting and entertaining all different types and groups of people. We found that almost everyone that we were working with had a need for a non-alcoholic something—something that wasn’t water or Diet Coke, but something that felt unique. As we kept trying to solve this problem while being better hosts, we ultimately decided that something wasn’t out there, and we wanted to be the ones to do it.

Q: For those guests at a wedding who would like to partake in alcoholic beverages, your suggestion for couples is to serve lower-ABV drinks. Can you explain your thought behind this?
A: I think allowing cocktails to not become extraordinarily over-proofed is good for everyone. When you start thinking about making cocktails, there are some amazing drinks out there that by only substituting one of the spirits for a non-alcoholic spirit really helps take the total ABV down. Especially when you’ve got guests who are there for a really long time, having say 3, 4, maybe 5 drinks, it’s a way to help them stay in control and feel comfortable to get home safely. Lots of brides and grooms should be exploring this option, and I think they are more and more; whether it is from a safety perspective or as a way to be more inclusive to your guests, especially those who may not be drinking but want to feel like they’ve got something festive in their hand. 

Q: What sort of ideas for low-ABV cocktails might you have?
A: Obviously, when you’re hosting large events, one of the things I always thought about was while I loved having specialty cocktails, it’s really important for you to have drinks that are relatively easy for the bartender to execute and can be done expeditiously. So, what I like to recommend here is ‘Halfsies.’ Spiritless blends beautifully with the full-proof spirit that it was inspired by—for example, Kentucky 74 is our bourbon-inspired product. So, when you think about making a simple Bourbon & Coke or an Old Fashioned, you have the ability to take that 2oz. pour and use 1oz. of Kentucky 74 and 1 oz. of bourbon, as it’s a 1:1 substitute. This gives you a range of low- or no- options.

Old Fashioned

2 ¼ oz. Spiritless Kentucky 74
¼ oz. Simple Syrup (or try Liber & Co.’s Fiery Ginger Syrup for a spicier kick)
3 Dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters
Orange Peel

Combine in adouble rocks glass and add ice. Stir until chilled.

Kentucky 74 Shandy

1 ½ oz. Spiritless Kentucky 74
¾ oz. Lemon Juice
¾ oz. Lemon Syrup*
4 oz. Athletic Upside Dawn Golden Ale

Combine all ingredients in a stemmed beer glass. Gently stir and garnish with lemon wheel and mint.

*Lemon Syrup – Makes approximately 1 cup.
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
Zest of 3 lemons (wash before zesting)
6 ounces lemon juice

Add sugar, water, and lemon zest to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil until sugar crystals are evaporated. Stir, remove from heat, and combine lemon juice is the mixture.

Q: It’s the ever-popular question for couples in the planning process: “do we really need to offer an open bar?” What are your thoughts on the matter?
A: There are certainly lots of opinions when it comes to hosting in general, and I really appreciate that couples want to host their guests beautifully. People want what they want in this world and we will often go to great extents to provide a range of options that accommodate all kinds of palates. And while I think having a range of bar options is a great idea, including premium non-alcoholic options, sometimes it’s about doing the right thing for you as you are celebrating your day. If that doesn’t include an open bar but instead something else that you would rather prioritize, I think that’s a decision of the host, and that’s where it should stay.

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