With the patience of a surgeon, Rommel De Guzman, a bartender at the Norwegian Prima’s Vibe Beach Club, mixed me a drink called the Smoky Water as we waited to depart from Le Havre, France.
He carefully poured Martini Vibrante, then blue curacao onto the back of a spoon into a cup of ice, basil syrup and fresh lemon juice. It looks like the American flag on ice.
But what this cocktail doesn’t have is alcohol.
I spent the last week on the Prima, Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship and firstborn of the Prima class. The ship attempts to kick the brand up a notch into the premium category, with attractive design, intimate spaces and elevated specialty dining.
NCL didn’t forget to step up the drinks menu. The Prima introduces nearly a dozen cocktails inside at the Metropolitan Bar that swirl sustainably made alcohols with syrups made from watermelon rinds, used coffee grounds, day-old croissants and other foods otherwise destined for the garbage disposal. While those drinks might suit someone particularly mindful about the planet, the line has also introduced a menu for the health-conscious cruiser.
At the Vibe Beach Club, those who want to keep calories or sugar down can choose from hard seltzers like Truly and light beers like Michelob Ultra. Those who want to go organic can order an organic frozen rose or Beso Del Sol sangria. There’s also a “natural wine cocktail of the day.”
NCL isn’t the only one picking up this trend of healthier and mindful beverages. Carnival Cruise Line is introducing two hard seltzers, one in pina colada flavor and the other in berry hibiscus. Both are vodka drinks clocking in at a mere 99 calories per 12-ounce can.
Some 30% of Americans don’t drink at all, and another 52 are actively trying to drink less, according to Beverage Daily. And cruise lines and other hospitality companies are responding to these sober-curious consumers. For example, Royal Caribbean Group introduced its own zero-proof drink menu during the pandemic after spending time digging into these data trends.
The Vibe Beach Club also serves zero-proof cocktail options like the Vibrante Virgintini, the Espresso Notini and the aforementioned Smoky Water. A circular shelf behind the bar includes electrolyte drinks in three flavors, zero-sugar tea and organic sodas in flavors like cola, tonic, ginger ale and ginger beer, which can be imbibed on their own or used in a favorite cocktail.
I dove into the zero-proof menu, where I found the Smoky Water, to which I followed up with the virgintini made with Martini Vibrante, a nonalcoholic red vermouth; white tea; cranberry juice; and soda water.
After six days dining my way through the restaurants of the cruise ship, the zero-proof option was a welcome one.
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