This Phoenix-based startup is shaking things up in a growing market niche.
Health and wellness. Diversity and inclusion. Work-life balance. Identity and expression.
These are more than just meetings buzzwords: They’re crucial philosophies for fulfilling attendees’ needs and expectations. More and more, these ideas are influencing all facets of events.
For this installment, we’re taking a closer look at the future of food-and-beverage offerings through the lens of one Phoenix startup.
All aspects of meetings continue to shift to make attendees feel more welcome and accommodated. In recent years, there has been a focus on dietary allergies, restrictions and preferences—including responsible sourcing, adding gluten-free options and ramping up vegetarian and vegan selections. So it only makes sense that beverage offerings also move toward a more inclusive approach, especially as the industry also trends toward wellness.
To that end, Tamara Wright and Bradley Bridwell saw a market opportunity and wasted no time at shaking things up. They co-founded The Nixer, a mobile dry bar that pops up at events and meetings throughout the Greater Phoenix area, offering booze-free beverage catering. The idea is to provide an elevated option for nondrinkers that goes way beyond the sugary mocktails that seem all too often to be an afterthought at events.
“Our focus is on quality options for people who are not drinkers or who are sober-curious, health enthusiasts or just choosing not to partake in drinking alcoholic beverages,” Bridwell explains. “Providing unique, complex beverages that look, act, and feel like cocktails to a person who’s not wanting to drink, or who has health concerns around drinking alcohol, [allows them] to mingle and be part of the social networking opportunities.”
Indeed, alcohol is often “the norm at workplace gatherings,” Bridwell says. And that dynamic can feel alienating and isolating for nondrinking meeting attendees, and even impact their ability to enjoy some aspects of the programming.
“There’s considerable pressure put upon a nondrinker to either explain why they’re not drinking or to hold a drink in their hand simply to fit in,” Bridwell says. “So offering complex, finely crafted, nonalcoholic beverages takes away that pressure, and people can just mingle. Whether or not you’re drinking is no longer the topic of conversation.”
“When you take that pressure out, somebody can still be healthy, still be themselves, and still have choices,” Wright adds. “It’s a very liberating feeling.”
The Nixer doesn’t have to replace all the booze at an event; it can simply be a savvy complement to a full bar—in the same way that menu alternatives may be offered alongside the main entree offered at a seated event.
“Gluten-free is now everywhere,” Wright explains by way of comparison. “And it’s because people demanded that choice.” Now, she says, event-goers’ varied preferences are demanding beverage choices, too.
Offering diverse F&B options that provide alternative selections also dovetails with another important theme as events and meetings move out of the pandemic: wellness.
The Nixer serves low-sugar beverages containing adaptogens (herbal stress relievers), nootropics (substances that enhance cognitive function), and other ingredients that serve as natural mood enhancement and boost gut health. And the drinks draw upon high-quality, locally grown-and-crafted ingredients, including prickly pear and kombucha that is made and bottled in Phoenix.
The Nixer’s founders see their 2021 launch as perfectly timed: It’s unique in the marketplace, and they hope to be part of a broader movement toward more inclusive, health-conscious gatherings.
“Our ultimate vision is to see this become a common aspect of any event where there’s alcohol,” Wright says. “We’d like to see this become the practice out in the world—and this is the way to start.”
Inspired? Try one of The Nixer’s signature nonalcoholic cocktails at home or at your next event.
- 1 ounce Amass Riverine nonalcoholic spirit
- 1 ounce prickly pear syrup
- 2 ounces Ritual Zero Proof gin
- 3 drops orange bitters
Shake with ice, strain, pour over ice and garnish with rose petals.
Blood Orange Nixer
- 2 ounces Kin High Rhode beverage
- 2 ounces blood orange juice
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- 1 dash agave nectar
Shake with ice, strain and top with club soda and a blood orange wheel before serving.
To find out how Greater Phoenix can help foster inclusivity at your next meeting, visit visitphoenix.com/meetings.