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How Consulting a Mixologist Elevated Avalon Waterways' Alcohol-Free Beverage Program



When you need renovations on your house, you call a contractor; someone who is a specialist in their field.  So if you are a business looking to curate a cocktail menu which also features quality non-alcoholic adult beverages, wouldn’t you enlist the help of a mixologist?


In my search for cruise lines, destinations and properties that take the alcohol free traveler into consideration, I’ve found that the influence of mixologists on properties and  on cruise lines has a profound effect on the quality of non-alcoholic beverages in today’s travel market.  


For reference, the difference between a mixologist and a bartender is that bartenders make drinks according to a recipe and mixologists actually create the recipe itself. 


Avalon Waterways, a member of the Globus Family of Brands, specializes in upscale river cruises; Avalon is not a party cruise line making it an ideal vacation for alcohol free travelers. The luxury cruise line offers upscale cuisine including heart healthy menu options, a curated non-alcoholic adult beverage menu, and an adventure center complete with FitBit trackers, a state of the art gym, and onboard Yoga classes.  With inclusive excursions, you can grab one of their complimentary Nordic walking sticks, bicycles or kayaks on your adventures. From a biking tour around Vienna, a canoe trip on the Danube, or a hiking trip up to a medieval castle, Avalon offers a variety of engaging and creative excursions.


When I spoke to my Business Development Manager (BDM) at Avalon, Nancy Dorch, regarding options for travelers who abstain from alcohol, she stated, “We do not offer a drinking package; this is not the kind of clientele we are seeking.” So Avalon worked with world renowned mixologist, Martin Hudák, to curate their cocktail as well as zero free beverage menu. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Hudák about this collaboration.


Hudák who is an instrumental force in the hospitality industry since 2008 and founder of Ritual Consultancy, a consulting firm that offers hospitality services ranging from brand identity to mentorship, was approached by Avalon to develop their beverage program which included adult non-alcoholic options. Hudák, a highly revered expert in both cocktails and coffee, is responsible for transforming two Australian drinks brands/companies into internationally renowned entities, putting both on the map as world-class. And now he has added Avalon Waterways to his portfolio.


Hudák  found the collaboration with Avalon to be a very engaging opportunity, “I never had a chance to work with such a specific demographic.” He also took into consideration the limitations associated with a bar at sea, but still managed to craft some amazing libations.


He was responsible for creating the cruise line’s cocktail menu which includes adult non alcoholic beverages. He believes that, “The mixologist or consultant should bring into the project a new perspective and worldwide view… but at the same time understand what the client needs.” 


At the time I interviewed Hudák, he was eight months into his own sobriety. “Funny enough I’ve been sober myself for the past eight months so I’m fully into it and a big advocate of conscious drinking. I believe that in this current age we drink less but better quality and if we don’t drink we try to choose bars or concepts which allows us to not feel separated but included even with our non drinking choices or other lifestyle preferences. N/A category is definitely picking up and becoming a big trend of the future.”


A couple of the offerings guests can look forward to on Avalon’s non-alcoholic (NA) menu include a River Iced Tea (Hibiscus Tea, Salted Caramel Syrup, Lemon Juice, Ginger Ale) and Mediterranean Breeze (Lavender Syrup, Lemon Juice, Tonic Water).


Through the course of my quest to uncover alcohol free experiences, I came across the same response from several suppliers regarding their zero proof offerings, “we can take the alcohol out of any drink on our cocktail menu!” When I asked Hudák about this statement he said, “It might be difficult to remove it from a particular cocktail. For example, drinks like Martinis, Old Fashioneds etc are based on spirits so in this case it would be hard. Creating any cocktail with or without spirit it’s all about balance.”


While our choice of adult NA beverages is important, the food we pair it to is equally as important.  And Avalon is certainly dedicated to the fleet’s cuisine. As a sober traveler myself, I know that I look forward to delicious quality selections in my travels.  A sample itinerary aboard one of Avalon’s cruises might look something like this: 


For Breakfast: start your morning off with a NA mimosa and pair with a Belgian waffle or Spanish omelet. 


For lunch try the Pineapple and Cucumber Salad with Cilantro and Lime and a delicious non-alcoholic Yogi Warrior, and finish with a walnut and coffee ice cream -dessert at lunch means you can burn the calories during the day.


For dinner  - freshly baked bread with pesto butter, Smooth Pumpkin Soup, and Seared Filet of Halibut with carrot cumin foam, Sepia noodles, stir fried vegetables and of course a delicious glass of sparkling NA wine.


With so many excursions available, you can easily burn off the calories.  As a travel advisor who focuses on alcohol free travel, Avalon checks all the boxes: luxury accommodations, quality cuisine and quality non-alcoholic adult beverages, and activities that engage travelers in activities that focus on adventure and an immersion in the culture of the places they visit.  So if you are looking for an alcohol free adventure and a river cruise is on your bucket list, an Avalon Waterways cruise is definitely worth considering.  



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