Co-founder of non-alcoholic spirit brand Lyre’s, Mark Livings is on a mission to get Asia drinking better and healthier.
What first inspired you to create non-alcoholic spirits?
We recognised a lack of no or low alcohol drink options, and we were wondering how can we all stay social, enjoy the drinks we love, without compromising taste and the experience? So, after a fruitless search, we began in 2017 our mission to craft the world’s finest range of non-alcoholic spirits with all the classic tastes that you know and love, with which anyone can create classic and contemporary drinks the way they like, and be free to stay social in any environment. We are here to change the way the world drinks.
How have you seen the growth in non-alcoholic and low ABV spirits in cities like Hong Kong and Singapore?
We’ve seen bars, high-end restaurants and retailers starting to capitalise on the opportunity sophisticated non-alcoholic options on their menus present and have started making spirits available to their customers. More broadly, we have definitely seen a shift in consumer behaviour towards healthier lifestyle choices.
Recent research from GlobalData in August 2020 shows us that three in four people in APAC are drinking less alcohol, and around 20% have dropped drinking alcohol altogether. Consumers are driven by concerns around physical and mental health and are pushing the growth forward.
Who is drinking Lyre’s in these cities and how does Asia’s non-alcohol consumption scene compare to other parts of the world?
We are seeing interest from various consumer groups, including moderators that are embracing the sober curious movement, abstainers who are looking for more sophisticated options beyond soda and juices, and more broadly health-conscious communities. It’s our ambition for our customers and consumers to come from every corner of the world, and simply choose to stay spirited and drink free.
The low or no alcohol category is set to grow by 31% over the next three years globally and in the Asia-Pacific region alone, the low-to-no-alcohol (LNA) beverage market is estimated to grow more than 7% from 2019 to 2025.
Unlike other non-alcoholic spirit brands, Lyre’s decided to create a comprehensive range of 13 products; what was the rationale behind the range and what does it offer consumers that the other brands don’t?
We know from working with bartenders and mixologists for years, they love the convenience of simply reaching for a different bottle when making a classic cocktail and they can with our spirits, which are crafted to pay homage to the flavours of the world’s most classic, time tested spirits.
Lyre’s’ role is to offer options and flexibility with our unique, but familiar range and encourage creativity and adaptability just like in the best bars in the world, using our spirits as the building blocks of new flavours and experiences.
What can you tell us about the production process behind Lyre’s?
We spent over three years in development, working closely with a number of the world’s leading beverage technology companies. We were determined to craft our beverages using all natural flavours, ensure they were 100% vegan and were as close as possible to the original spirits that we could make them. We used a library of over 6,000 extracts, essences and distillates and combined them using cutting-edge beverage technologies. Step by step, we were advised by recognised sommelier and now our very own Global Flavour Architect David Murphy, with some variants requiring over 100 generations of product before reaching excellence.
We did not opt for extracting flavours exclusively by distillation, as alcohol carries a lot of flavours and the final step of dealcoholisation would undermine the integrity of the liquid. Instead, we opted for building flavours from the bottom up. Lyre’s is a mix of natural flavours, extracts and distillates derived from fruits, botanicals, spices, seeds and other natural sources. Some of our products contain flavour notes that are a tribute to alcohol’s warmth and length on the palate – we achieve this through blending natural extracts of vegetables such as capsicum, herbs like peppermint and other plant-based compounds.
Like other non-alcoholic spirits, Lyre’s lacks ethanol, the spirit that provides stability and preserves the alcoholic beverage. Lyre’s use a widely found natural preservative safe for consumption as well as acid, such as citrus fruit-derived citric acid, for product stability and achieving good shelf life.
Apart from the benefits of being non-alcoholic, all of the Lyre’s range is substantially lower in calories, in some cases by more than 90%, than the original spirit. And all Lyre’s are vegan, and free from gluten and other known allergens.
What do your spirits offer a consumer looking to not imbibe that a soda water, for example, doesn’t?
Lyre’s is a product designed for the enjoyment of adult tastes, created for people looking for a sophisticated non-alcohol alternative, without compromising on the social experience, seeking to elevate their meal, or time spent with another person sharing a drink.
Which venues in Hong Kong and Singapore are you available in and what are some of the ways you’d suggest we try Lyre’s?
We are honoured to have been picked up by some of the best bars in Asia, including Manhattan, Atlas and 15 Stamford at The Capitol Kempinski Hotel in Singapore, and Lobster Bar and Caprice Bar in Hong Kong. Our network and communities are consistently growing especially social lives are slowly resuming back to normal after the pandemic.
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