Going alcohol free in LA: An interview with Adam Fournier

Going alcohol free in LA: An interview with Adam Fournier

We caught up with our friend and world-class bartender, Adam Fournier, beverage director at Wolfslgen, one of our Los Angeles based stockists. 

Fournier has been awarded World Class US 2021 Bartender of the Year as well as one of the Imbibe 75 for his work with non-alcoholic cocktails. One of the the driving forces behind the growing non-alc scene in LA and the mastermind behind Wolfglen’s noteworthy drinks menu, Fournier is famous for his expertise and creativity, with cocktail design and flavor development, and his theatrical presentation.

We talked to Adam about the expanding non-alc industry and how it’s changing the way people drink and socialize in bars and beyond.

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Who are you and what do you do at Fellow bar in Los Angeles and beyond?

My name is Adam George Fournier and I am the Beverage Director for Fellow in Westwood, CA. Formerly known as Fellow, now known as Wolfsglen. I am also the World Class US 2021 Bartender of the Year as well as one of the Imbibe 75 for my work with non-alcoholic cocktails.

What do you think makes a good bartender?

I think what makes a good bartender is mindfulness and attention to detail. As a bartender you’re often the one driving the experience of the bar or dining room. This means you have to be mindful not only of the drinks you’re creating but of the service you’re giving. And not just the service to the individual in front of you but how those choices affect everyone in the room.

When crafting a drink, what do you feel is the most important element?

The most important element to crafting a drink is always going to be flavor. Flavor is king. If the drink doesn’t taste good, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is, it doesn’t matter how cleverly named or how sustainable it is. I think good flavor and balance comes from being mindful with your ingredients and techniques.

What do you think makes a tasty non-alc cocktail? Can crafting a non-alc drink present more challenges than creating an alcoholic cocktail? 

Flavor, balance, texture, and presentation. With non alcoholic drinks you often have to pay more attention to the elements of texture and body as they can feel “thin” without the traditional weight of ethanol.

You also have to think more about the experience and ritual that goes along with the serve. So if you’re removing the alcoholic content, what experience are you replacing the ABV with? What is the added value that makes this non-alcoholic cocktail worth spending your money on?

How have you seen the non-alc cocktail scene grow recently? Are you excited about its growing popularity?

The non-alcoholic scene has grown in the way people think about it and accept it. It’s also grown in creativity and flexibility of use. I think the old school mentality was to treat non-alcoholic as an after-thought. But people that are shifting between a full spirited drink to a non-alcoholic and back.

We’ve spent a lot of years teaching people to be mindful about what and how they drink. That quality is better than quantity and I think the interest in non-alcoholic drinks is a natural outgrowth of that education.

Have you noticed more and more customers ordering non-alc drinks at Wolfsglen and beyond?

Definitely seen more guests ordering N/A. Like I said sometimes it’s as simple as someone wanting to share one last drink but they happen to be driving. But we also see large tables of younger diners coming in that aren’t imbibing alcohol and will do full meals paired with non-alcoholic drinks. It offers them a unique, mindful experience, while also helping generate new revenue for the business.

Tell us about the menu at Wolfsglen and the concept behind it. Do you create the menu yourself, work with the team, do you regularly change the menu and where do your influences come from?

The menu Fellow came about looking to be mindful, sustainable, delicious, and experiential for our guests. The original menu came from myself but evolved with the team. We settled onto our house signatures and then we keep a larger rotation of seasonal cocktails that change regularly.

We also wanted to have a fully non-alcoholic menu right from the start to be mindful and inclusive of everyone's experience at the restaurant. There are a million reasons why someone might not want a drink. Maybe they're the designated driver but they’d like to have the ritual of it with their friends. So we really tried to design N/A drinks that recreated the ritual and experience of more traditional cocktails without being married to traditional flavours and presentations.

What is your Three Spirit of choice and why?

My Three Spirits of choice right now is the Livener. It mixes great, it creates a wonderful color, and has that hint of caffeine that can add to the experience when used correctly.

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