Without a doubt, alcohol-free alternatives are on the rise. From the realisation that you don’t need to drink to have a good time, or the relief that there’s less pressure to join in the cocktails, or even for health reasons, more and more people are choosing to abstain or reduce their alcohol consumption. But the traditional ‘sparkling elderflower’ doesn’t quite cut it anymore. And so brands have risen to the challenge, and it’s an exciting time.
Thanks to my Singaporean mum, I’m a terrible drinker. I get ‘lash rash’ and a rapid heartbeat and it’s all down to missing an enzyme. At uni it was hard, because the Irish in me wanted to drink, but the Asian said, ‘Ha! Sure thing, but you’ll turn bright red and be a total lightweight.’ So I drank and had fun, and often regretted it the next day. Nowadays, I’m immune to any pressure. I have a fondness for sweet wine, and a couple of sips of cold beer, but that’s on occasion rather than the norm. Funnily enough, my husband used to get quite angsty if we went out for a nice dinner and I didn’t even treat myself to a mocktail. That’s all changing now and I’ve started appreciating the ritual of a decent drink – especially at home. It’s satisfying and somewhat meditative to enjoy the ‘pour’ and the choosing of the glass. So JOMO Club, the non-alcoholic subscription box, sounded like a concept I could definitely get behind, especially since it came with curated snacks!
I chatted with Gemma Mills, co-founder of JOMO Club to find out more.
What inspired the name, JOMO Club?
We hear about FOMO (fear of missing out) too much. Over the past year, we have been forced to slow down and it’s made you realise time for yourself is really important. Our lives were extremely busy before the pandemic – we were waking up early to get the train to London and getting back late. We were out all the time, saying yes to every plan that came our way. We are still busy don’t get me wrong, but I think it is all about balance and I try to be disciplined with myself now.
That is where the name came from. It is okay to say no to plans without feeling guilty for doing so. It gives you a choice to take some time for yourself. We thought JOMO (joy of missing out) aligned perfectly with this decision and tied into the decision of not drinking. There are so many amazing benefits around not drinking and with the ritual still in place with alcohol-free spirits and cocktails there is a joy of missing out. In years to come perhaps it won’t be considered ‘missing out’ anymore, but I don’t think we are there just yet.
Why do you think alcohol free drinks are on the rise?
It all stems from alcohol-free drinking being on the rise and I think there are a number of reasons for why that is. People becoming more health conscious, fitness being a part of our lifestyles, increased awareness around mental health and alcohol’s negative impact on anxiety. I also think people have taken a year to reflect on many aspects of their lives and alcohol has played into that. It has made many more aware of their relationship with alcohol, their level of consumption and that is turning people to look at alcohol free drinks and what alternatives are available.
Sounds like it’s less about the alcohol and more about the ritual?
Totally. I think that has a big part to play. The UK has an engrained drinking culture where you are expected to drink. People are starting to stand up to that now especially in the Millennial and Gen-Z generations – something that was unlikely to have happened in my parents generation for example.
Looking at the ritual, many have been working from home over the past year and a glass of wine or G&T created a natural divide to work and the evening. However, you make yourself an alcohol-free G&T or non-alcoholic wine – you still get to pour the drink in the gorgeous glass and enjoy a drink that isn’t water, without drinking alcohol every day.
How long did it take to go from conception to this?
We came up with the idea in March 2021 and launched the website and our social channels in May. Our first alcohol-free subscription box will be going out in August. I wanted to get things live first so we could start getting our name out there, building our following and generating some buzz – I also didn’t want to rush the first box. It turns out we have managed to secure the contents of our boxes until June 2022 which is amazing and means I can focus on different, equally important things. August has felt like quite a long wait but it’s fast approaching now and I don’t regret it as I am extremely happy with where we are and how the boxes look.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in this journey? How did you overcome it?
We are still very early on the journey and I am sure there will be a million challenges to overcome yet. I would say the biggest so far in the launch stages has been the packaging. A completely new area for me, with no personal experience and I had completely underestimated how complex it would be. You have to think about the shape, size, material to ensure it is sturdy for shipping, sustainability which was important for us and then the design too. There are a million suppliers out there. They are also the biggest investment as you order in a large quantity so not something you want to get wrong. That part probably took us the longest to get right, but I am thrilled with how our boxes look – I was lucky to have a friend who created the illustrations on the inside of our boxes and we have designed a sticker for the outside.
Describe Jomo club in 3 words
Mindful, Flavourful and Curious.
If Jomo were a cocktail, what kind would it be?
A Negroni – punchy yet sweet. Sophisticated yet simplistic. A layer of depth with the aim to soon be mainstream. (Plus orange is part of our brand colours!)
If you like a negroni, I would say this is one of the best alcohol-free cocktails as you can really master the bitter flavours.
Best non alcoholic cocktail you’ve ever had?
I have to choose two, is that allowed? One was a Hibiscus cocktail made by Tim Blake, the Co-Founder of Crossip. Their flavours pack a punch.
The other was made by the Cocktail Doctor. It was with Mary, muddled strawberries and tomatoes – it sounds strange, but it was so wonderful. He told me the secret to making it, but he has been making cocktails in the finest bars for years that I don’t want to try and recreate it.
What do you get in a JOMO Club subscription box?
Every box includes a full bottle of non-alcoholic spirit, mindful mixers and garnishes, savoury and sweet snacks, a cocktail of the month with our plantable ingredient card (turning into a flower or herb), a mystery can of alcohol-free drink and a 16 page members magazine!
Our Christmas box will be slightly different on the drink front and include a premium bottle of non-alcoholic red wine alternative and non-alcoholic champagne… all the rest is the same – the perfect gift (for someone else or yourself!)
Set the scene – what’s the ideal way to enjoy a subscription box?
Every subscription box is different, and we offer our ingredient card and our magazine for the best experience. I would say the perfect way to enjoy a JOMO Box is:
1. Start by making up your perfect simple serve drink with your alcohol-free spirit, mixer and garnishes. The magazine will showcase how best to make this drink, meanwhile you can enjoy the exclusive interviews and articles in there.
2. Shake up your cocktail of the month using your ingredient card and ingredients. 3. Enjoy your savoury and sweet snacks.
4. On a sunny day, take your ingredient card to your garden and plant it in a pot or directly in your soil. Alternatively, give your card to a friend or family member for them to plant and enjoy their new flower.
We have heard from a few members that they are organising a ‘JOMO Night’ with friends for when their box arrives. They are experiencing the box and its contents together. It could also be perfect for a date night!
Want to try JOMO Club for yourself?
Use code JOMO25 for your 25% discount of your first box. To get your box in time for August, order by 23rd July. Monthly boxes are £38.