FIRST LOOK: Dan Murphy’s opens Zero% bar in Melbourne

Dan Murphy’s has opened the doors to its first bar, ZERO % by Dan Murphy’s, in Melbourne. The venue has been six months in the works and is located in the newly developed Hampton Hill precinct.

Patrons can choose from a menu of more than 30 zero alcoholic drinks to enjoy at the bar, as well as a range of more than 200 non-alcoholic products to shop and take home.  

“Australians are embracing zero alcoholic beverages more than ever before, but for those who are still hesitant, ZERO% is the perfect place to discover what is undoubtedly the hottest drinks trend at the moment in a contemporary setting,” Dan Murphy’s Managing Director Alex Freudmann (above) said. 

Patrons can choose between beers on tap or can from $2.99, including local brews like Urban Alley Pale Ale and Mornington Free Pale Ale, 11 different wines by the glass from $5 per glass, and a range of cocktails as well as premix drinks. Snacks are available, but customers are also encouraged to order their own food delivery to enjoy at the bar. 

Zero alcoholic drinks is one of the fastest growing categories for Dan Murphy’s with more than 100% sales growth in the last two years. Non-alcoholic drinks are now competing with well-established categories such as aperitifs and international craft beers in terms of share of sale.

“Customers have always been coming to Dan Murphy’s for social occasions, whether that’s barbecues, dinners or celebrations, and increasingly for those occasions, they are looking to include non-alcoholic options which is part of a wider trend of drinking less, but better,” Freudmann explained. 

“We think it’s great that more Australians than ever are drinking responsibly, which is why we want to lean into and support this great trend.” 

Last year, Dan Murphy’s almost tripled the number of non-alc products in its range, with an offering of more than 200 products. However, the company said zero alcoholic drinks are by no means new to Dan Murphy’s.

“Our founder Daniel Francis Murphy was selling and promoting Claytons, which was the drink to have when you’re not having a drink, back in the 1970s, so we have been onto this trend for a while,” he said. 

According to stats from the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, younger drinkers (people aged in their 20s) are drinking more responsibly than any generation before, with 62% consuming four standard drinks or less on one occasion in a month in 2019, compared to 49% in 2001. According to ABS figures released last week, 18-24 year olds are showing themselves as the generation of moderation**.

“The emerging range of zero-strength products enables consumers to make healthier and safer consumption choices. Raising awareness of these alternatives will help Australians to cut back on their alcohol consumption and continue the trend towards responsible drinking and moderation,” said DrinkWise CEO Simon Strahan. 

Bar targets ‘athleisure wine mums’

Freudmann, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald the placement of Dan Murphy’s new bar in Melbourne’s ritzy south was because the target market for the new bar is ‘athleisure wine mums’ who might be looking to switch up a mid-week glass with something more healthy.

“The bullseye customer is a female customer who is sophisticated, health-conscious, but also enjoys premium wines,” he said. “These are customers who still want to consume premium champagnes, pinos and chardonnays on the weekend, but for other occasions in the week they’re increasingly happy to include a zero alcohol option.”

Freudmann said he was hopeful the bar would give customers who were curious about low-alcohol options a chance to try a glass.

“People who haven’t yet tried a non-alcoholic version of their favourite drink are a bit nervous about buying a whole bottle, so if they can buy a glass and consume it in a social environment, it makes it more accessible,” he said.

He also noted that the quality of zero alcohol products had improved dramatically.

“Beer has grown the most rapidly because they cracked the flavour first, and the second-largest now is spirits because they’ve started to crack it too,” he said. 

“Wine is technologically the most difficult to crack because the alcohol makes up so much of the spine of the product, but what we’ve seen in the last 12 months is great progress, particularly in white and sparkling.”

ZERO% is open 7 days a week and operating until the end of June at 470 Hampton Street, Hampton. Opening hours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11am to 9pm; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday from 11am to 7pm.

Freudmann said the company could open more across the country if the initial experiment is successful.

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