USA – Global beverage alcohol leader, Diageo through Distill Ventures, has invested in American spirits alternative brand Ritual Zero Proof to help drive Ritual’s growth in the US.

The investment from Diageo will also help Ritual to strengthen its direct-to-consumer business and support its entry into retail.

Following the Diageo’s investment, the Ritual founders will also be able to access the support of Distill Ventures’ dedicated non-alcoholic drinks practice in developing the business over the coming years.

Based in Chicago, Ritual was founded by Marcus Sakey, GG Sakey and David Crooch with an aim to meet growing consumer demand for a “complex, flavorful and interesting alternative for people who are choosing not to drink”.

The brand is crafted for use in cocktails and can be swapped with traditional spirits to make non-alcoholic versions of classic recipes.

According to Ritual, consumers choosing not to drink alcohol are ready to mark a moment with something more than club soda creating a demand for even more spirit alternatives.

A study conducted by Distill Ventures in 2019, shows that 58% of consumers are drinking more no-and low-abv drinks than 2018, and 55% of the most influential bartenders in New York, Los Angeles and London believe the no-and low-alcohol trend will continue to grow within the next 12 months.

“This is a movement,” said Marcus Sakey, founding partner and chief brand officer of Ritual Zero Proof. “Just like almond milk and veggie burgers, spirit alternatives are changing the landscape.

“In 18 months, we predict non-alcoholic options will be on every menu and the shelves of every grocery store. Americans want more choice, and Ritual Zero Proof is all about more – more flavor, more moments, more life, that is.

“It’s the only American-made spirit alternative to echo the taste, smell and burn of a spirit – without the alcohol or calories.”

Eugene Khabensky, ventures director, Diageo, said: “We are excited to support such an interesting new brand in the vibrant non-alcoholic space.

“We put the consumer at the heart of our business, and Ritual Zero Proof is a fantastic offering that provides consumers with more choices of the highest quality.”

While Distill Ventures has already made investments across Europe, Asia and North America, Ritual is the first public non-alcoholic brand from the United States to join the company’s growing portfolio of international non-alcoholic brands.

As is customary with all companies that work with Distill Ventures, the founders and current investors of Ritual will retain majority ownership, with Diageo holding a minority stake.

They will continue to run the business independently as the company continues to expand.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ritual Zero Proof and its seasoned team of drink entrepreneurs into the Distill Ventures portfolio as we build the future of non-alcoholic drinks, a category we have proudly supported since our investment in Seedlip back in 2015,” said Heidi Dillon Otto, Portfolio Director and Non-Alcoholic Lead, Distill Ventures North America.

“We look forward to working closely with Ritual’s team to unlock growth as, together, we shape the global non-alcoholic drinks landscape and continue to provide consumers with a broad array of choices when seeking out their drinks.”