“Nolo” trend: When French gastronomy becomes alcohol-free


“Nolo” trendWhen French gastronomy becomes alcohol-free

The best chefs now offer non-alcoholic beverages, selected with the same attention as the great wines, to accompany their dishes.

The “nolo” trend is growing in France.

Getty Images via AFP

Are you in the middle of “dry January”, busy driving, pregnant or just curious? After the Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian countries, France, on the other hand, multiplies alcohol-free gastronomic experiences that are worth good wines.

“People earn more”

Non-alcoholic rosé champagne served in a luxury lingerie store in Paris, “virgin” cocktails developed for the launch of trendy restaurants and hotels… the “nolo” trend of drinks without alcohol (“no”) or with little alcohol (“low”) wins even in star restaurants.

“It is a trend that is growing in France after the Anglo-Saxon countries, which are always one step ahead of us,” said Yann Daniel, mixologist from the Alchimiste group, one of the leaders of the movement. In the fall, he created a series of light cocktails that work with “spices, herbs, roots and teas” for the Australian chain Tribe hotel in Paris. With more than 20 years of experience in the palace bar, he admits to having been “quite skeptical” at first, but “we realize that with these cocktails people enjoy more, appreciate and recommend”.

“We move on”

Alchimiste’s other mixologist, Matthias Giroud, published the book “No Low” (Gründ) with 60 cocktail recipes in October. An approach praised in the foreword by multi-star chef Pierre Gagnaire for his “true creativity in virgin territory”, which allows you to have fun “without depriving yourself of an extra glass”.

At David Toutain, two Michelin stars, we start the meal with a sparkling drink made of bergamot and buckwheat. The lobster is served with an infusion of fir buds, the apple juice with fennel vinegar will accompany the eel, the beetroot-carrot nectar the pigeon… “It took me years to get all this in place”, the chef tells AFP. has since November offered deals with non-alcoholic drinks alongside those with wines. “We go further in the experience,” he says. “A vintner does not have to make a wine for a dish, the sommelier chooses it in relation to his palate. This is my universe”.

David Allain.

“Everyone is in on it”

Hélène Pietrini, director of the gastronomic classification La List, confides to AFP “to adore” non-alcoholic pairings, “a way of tasting from abroad” which “completely changes the aromatic profile of dishes and tenfolds the means of expression”.

In French haute cuisine, the world’s most famous chef Anne-Sophie Pic and her sommelier, the Argentinian Paz Levinson, were the pioneers of nolo. “When I was pregnant, it was scary to go to a restaurant and stay in the water all evening. I wanted to create something extraordinary” so that all customers who don’t drink alcohol could enjoy their “social life”, Paz Levinson told AFP. “Today it’s a bit slow, everyone is getting into it,” says Anne-Sophie Pic , who notably runs the gourmet restaurant at the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne.At his three-star restaurant in Valencia, lukewarm brewed Brazilian coffee is served in a tall wine glass with a venison fillet.

    Anne-Sophie's picture.

“I do not agree”

Faced with the “frustration” of customers who only find non-alcoholic beverages from supermarkets on the restaurant menu, sommelier Benoît d’Onofrio has developed non-alcoholic combinations for chef Manon Fleury’s pop-up restaurant, inspired by winegrowers’ techniques (maceration). , extraction of aromas). “When I listen to the feedback, I am comforted by the thought that the nolo has a bright future ahead of it”.

Three-star chef Guy Savoy believes that this trend is legitimate in countries that do not produce wine and must adapt, but not in France. “In the first country with great wines, I don’t judge, but I don’t agree”. The German gastronomic critic Jörg Zipprick, co-founder of the List, believes that the health discourse tends towards the “alcohol devil”, which will discourage the consumption of wine. David Toutain, he plays down. “We’re in love with wine, champagne, and we claim it. We’re just offering another window of opportunity.”


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