The Mocktail Project Declassifies the Choice to Not Drink

BDC respects the non-drinker just as much as we advocate for those who do choose to have a relationship with alcohol and drink within their own personal limits. For some of us, regardless of the reason, that limit—our “drink number”—is (or has to be) zero. And that’s perfectly okay. We believe that alcohol should be a choice—not an expectation.

Jesse Hawkins

Jesse Hawkins

And, for Jessie Hawkins, he’s making strides to positively impact our culture’s current notion that alcohol should be the only option. In 2014, at age 25, Hawkins made the personal choice to become a non-drinker. “After years of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, legal issues, and life mistakes, I found myself lonely. I had given up on the life I wanted to live.” Three years later, he crafted his first mocktail, which ultimately led to The Mocktail Project.

“I created The Mocktail Project to help ensure that all social environments would start to be more mindful of non-drinkers. To help welcome everyone back to the table and feel comfortable with what they ordered to drink, especially if it was without alcohol.” In an effort to help create a safe, more inclusive drinking culture, The Mocktail Project affords Hawkins the opportunity to give back to the community that helped him in his recovery.

Last year, The Mocktail Project hosted its first annual fundraiser, A Drink for You, at Mint Julep Tours—Kentucky’s go-to bourbon and culinary tourism transportation company. BDC co-founder, Cam Brieden, and I had the pleasure of attending. It returns for its second appearance March 12 Frazier History Museum, the home of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Welcome Center, located in downtown Louisville, KY.

Rabbit Hole Distillery

Rabbit Hole Distillery

“A Drink for You has quickly become our annual charity event to highlight our friends and supporters who help drive forward the momentum and awareness of making available to all guests,” Hawkins says. “For one night, we want to create a blueprint for what a social space can and should be—a space where cocktails and mocktails can co-exist.”

When asked to describe a perfect world for The Mocktail Project, Hawkins doesn’t hesitate: “Where mocktails are a common thing on every bar or restaurant’s menu. In a perfect world, mocktails should be celebrated for what they are—an incredibly delicious, non-alcoholic option for those who don’t drink or for whatever reason choose not to consume alcohol on that particular occasion.” And, no—he’s not just referring to lemon-lime soda with a splash of grenadine, and then calling it a day. “Bold, creative recipes that have depth and are poured into the same glassware as any traditional cocktail.”

Jesse Hawkins

Jesse Hawkins

For BDC, having recently announced our formal partnership with many distilleries across Kentucky, it’s particularly exciting to see some of our new Certified Partners embrace Hawkins’ cause. “Rather than tourism, we have bourbonnism—a truly beautiful word and culture that should be shared and celebrated by everyone.  As a non-drinker, our bourbon culture has started to embrace that 30% of Americans who don’t consume alcohol, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t enjoy our state’s amazing distilleries. Elevating everyone’s experience by offering thoughtfully-crafted recipes that can be enjoyed with or without alcohol allows everyone to enjoy bourbonism.”

If you happen to attend next week’s A Drink for You, please give Copper & Kings, Heaven Hill, and Rabbit Hole a high-five from us. Tell ‘em BDC says, “What’s up!” And, please, introduce yourself to Hawkins and clink glasses with him—whether yours has alcohol in it or not.





Jason Ley

My last name is pronounced /lā/.