Wall Street firms swap alcohol for mocktails this holiday season

Wellness themes cater to health-conscious employees while helping firms avoid alcohol-fueled liabilities in #MeToo era.

    Despite one luxury hotel in Manhattan featuring specialty 'mocktails' at holiday parties for approximately half a dozen financial firms this year, many Wall Street banks in the United States are still serving alcohol at office fetes [File:David Ramos/Getty Images]
    Despite one luxury hotel in Manhattan featuring specialty 'mocktails' at holiday parties for approximately half a dozen financial firms this year, many Wall Street banks in the United States are still serving alcohol at office fetes [File:David Ramos/Getty Images]

    Fruit smoothies may become the new martini for Wall Street holiday parties.

    Banking and trading firm BTIG LLC, for example, cut alcohol from its annual employee celebration on December 12 at its New York City offices in the United States. Instead, guests did yoga and bootcamp-style workouts, played ping-pong, and downed smoothies, juices and fruit-infused water.

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    "I'm sore, just in a different way," joked a happy BTIG employee the morning after donning Lululemon fitness gear to compete with colleagues. "My head doesn't hurt; my body hurts."

    BTIG is an outlier on Wall Street, but interviews with some employees, events staff and those who work in the wellness industry suggest more companies are moving their holiday parties and other events away from booze-centric bacchanals.

    Younger Wall Street employees are increasingly health-conscious, and companies are attuned to the liability of alcohol-laden corporate events in the #MeToo era.

    "You can't go wrong with what we did," said the BTIG employee.

    The Pierre, a luxury hotel near Central Park in New York, featured specialty "mocktails" at holiday parties for approximately half a dozen financial firms this year, part of a broader increase in demand for such non-alcoholic cocktails, according to director of catering Bill Spinner.

    Barry's Bootcamp, a fitness club chain popular with the Wall Street crowd, has seen an increase in bookings by financial firms for employee and client workouts this holiday season, according to director of community marketing Alisa Holzer.

    The emerging trend on Wall Street echoes similar events in the technology industry, with which it increasingly competes with for talent.

    Seedlip, which makes non-alcoholic spirits, recently hosted a 1,200-person Google holiday party at Rolling Greens nursery in Los Angeles, serving approximately 700 "Holiday CosNOs" and other alcohol-free cocktails, said spokeswoman Lorena Tapiero. Seedlip beverages were also served at a recent Netflix employee gathering in LA, she said. Google and Netflix did not respond to emails seeking comment.

    Even as some employees embraced workouts and mocktails, alcohol flowed across much of Wall Street this holiday season. The bars were stocked and open at New York soirees organised by BlackRock Inc, DE Shaw & Co, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Evercore Inc, HSBC Holdings Plc, and Credit Suisse Group, according to attendees and social media posts. The parties featured such amusements as a limbo contest and professional contortionists. The firms declined to comment or did not respond to requests.

    An employee who attended one of the parties described it as "merry and lit".

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency