It’s no secret that many started drinking more as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it was elevated stress, boredom, or blurred lines between work and home, reports showed a sharp uptick in alcohol consumption immediately following lockdown. A recent study by the National Library of Medicine, found that almost two-thirds of participants (60.1%) said their drinking habits ‘significantly increased’ in April of 2020.

Now, as the pandemic ebbs and flows, a new trend has emerged. Many who perhaps over imbibed during the past two years are now reevaluating their relationship with alcohol — either cutting back, or removing it completely from their lives. According to the Bacardi Cocktail Trends report for 2022, there’s a rise in sober-curious consumers with 58% globally drinking more non-alcoholic and low-ABV cocktails.

Finn Walter, 2022 James Beard Semifinalist for Best Chef: Texas, and owner of The Nicolett, embraces this shift at his restaurant in downtown Lubbock, Texas.

After almost two decades of working and training at the highest echelons of dining in the U.S. and abroad, chef Finn Walter and his wife, Arden, made the bold decision to return to his hometown of Lubbock, Texas, with ambitions to open a new fine dining destination restaurant for the region. The Nicolett opened in November 2020 and is rooted in the pioneering spirit of West Texas.

“We’ve been proponents of offering sophisticated cocktail experiences — with and without the booze — since our opening,” Walter explains. “More and more people are either choosing to not drink alcohol, or to be much more discerning about the alcoholic drinks they do enjoy, myself included. I think it’s important for a restaurant like ours to have a robust, elevated offering of non-alcoholic drinks for our patrons.”

Named for The Nicolett Hotel, the first form of hospitality in the region, and where the City of Lubbock charter was signed, the restaurant honors the rich history of the area, and reflects the owners’ commitment to providing elevated hospitality to one of Texas’ burgeoning regions.

“A big part of creating this restaurant was identifying elements that have always been important to West Texas,” Walter says. “This region has a long and rich history of artists and songwriters who approach their work as craftsmen and we wanted to honor that tradition in our approach to food, drink, and service. With the growing local interest in non-alcoholic beverages, we’re proud to announce The Nicolett’s new non-alcoholic cocktail program, launching Thursday, June 9, with a special Zero-Proof Pop-up event.”

Hosted from 4pm – 8pm on the restaurant’s outdoor patio and in its highly sought-after greenhouse, the June 9 non-alcoholic cocktail hour will introduce a new selection of 0-proof libations handcrafted by The Nicolett team and utilizing the premier non-alcoholic spirits on the market, including Ghia, Seedlip, Spiritless, and many more.Following the launch event, the new non-alcoholic selections will be featured on The Nicolett’s cocktail menu and available during the restaurant’s regular cocktail hour service, dinner service, and Sunday brunch.

“All of our new drinks allow guests to savor the experience and tradition of sipping a well-crafted cocktail with friends or during a meal, just without the alcohol. We are proud to present this option to our guests and to continue to push the boundaries of drinking and dining in West Texas.”

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