Soft drink plan for pubs backed by Hackney Council

Lauren Johns and supervisor Moses Elliott shoe off their range of non-alcoholic drinks at The Three

Lauren Johns and supervisor Moses Elliott shoe off their range of non-alcoholic drinks at The Three Compasses. Picture: Melissa Page - Credit: Archant

Anyone who has endured the glares and ribbing that come with being stood in a pub holding a soft drink will be delighted to know someone out there has their back.

Social Project Club Soda supports people who want to change their drinking habits when they head to their local or for a night on the town.

The group spent a year working with pubs and clubs in Dalston researching attitudes towards non-alcoholic drinks for their project Nudging Pubs.

And they found out pubs and bars wanted to do more, but lacked ideas, time, and space to make changes. They also discovered customers often panic at the bar, but think given more information about soft drink options they would make healthier choices.

The project has now received a £38,000 grant from Hackney Council to develop a website and app for people to rate pubs and bars on their soft drink options.

One pub they worked with was The Three Compasses in Dalston Lane. Owner Lauren Johns said customers did start to buy more soft drinks when she started stocking local options from Brewdog, Dalston Cola and Square Root.

She said: “I think it could really catch on. We found just having more of an offering does entice more people. I think it makes people feel less intimidated to drink soft drinks when the options are good. And often when someone isn’t drinking they don’t come out but this could help them carry on with their lives and not stay at home.”

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Laura Willoughby MBE, from Club Soda said the idea now was to allow customers to find the best options for them.

She said: “We know pubs and bars want to cater for the growing market of individuals drinking less alcohol, and we want to set the gold standard for what ‘good’ looks like.

“Most importantly we want the customers to have the final say on which venues are the best. We think this product will do that.”

Penny Bevan, Hackney’s director of public health, said: “We hope this will empower customers, as well as pubs and bars themselves, to talk more openly about the choices and opportunities for people who want to drink a bit less alcohol on a night out.

“A quarter of 16-24 year olds don’t drink, so this is about making licensed venues better for everyone.”