Hosting an event with little or no alcohol? Here’s the kind of entertainment that “sober curious” people go crazy for.

According to a recent CNN Business article by Sara O’Brien, there’s a new wave of people “paying greater attention to their mental health and wellness.”

It’s no small thing, with “tech companies reevaluating their alcohol policies and investors looking to capitalize on people who prefer not to drink.” And it is forcing companies and meeting planners to think creatively about what to do to engage this group of employees and conference attendees.

If you’re in charge of planning the next night-time social gathering, what’s the one kind of entertainment that will delight both drinkers and the newly minted group of “sober curious” people?


If you know me, you probably made an easy guess: magic.

Magic is the one form of entertainment that is beloved by people who aren’t drinking just as much as those who are.

Specifically, I’m referring to interactive close-up magic. The kind where a magician approaches your group and within moments you’re laughing in disbelief as cards and coins are vanishing before your eyes. There are few forms of entertainment as engaging and powerful as really great sleight-of-hand magic presented up-close for intelligent adults.  

I’ve been performing at cocktail parties as a close-up magician for over 20 years. Even now when most of my work is keynote speaking, I often arrive the night before so I can meet as many attendees as possible and connect with them one-on-one via magic.

And in these scenarios, most of the time, most of my audiences are drinking.

Photo by Sally Belle Photography

Photo by Sally Belle Photography

When the cocktail hour begins, I approach them just as they’re walking in, greeting other people, and taking a look at their surroundings, deciding whether to grab a drink now or later. My job is to welcome them, acknowledge what they’re thinking, and give them the positive option to participate in a magical experience.

I’ve worked hard to ensure my audiences feel comfortable, whether they’re drinking or not. And that’s why magic works so well.

In fact, it is this first half-hour of a cocktail party right before their first drink that is the most perfect time to do magic. One person in every group always ends up saying “I haven’t even had a single drink yet, and this is unbelievable.”

That’s because magic is at its most powerful when you’re at your most critical self, paying full attention and trying to figure out what’s happening, not when you’ve had so much to drink that it looks like everyone in the room is levitating.

While drinking at social events is not “going to disappear from the American zeitgeist,” this new wave of people wanting to indulge less, de-stress and stay cognitively focused is here with a defined need. This need is being recognized by investors and by large businesses needing to rethink the role that alcohol consumption plays in their culture.

It’s changing how Americans gather to celebrate and network at social and business events.


According to a report by Bon Appétit, the market for low- to zero-alcohol beverages is expected to grow by 32 percent between 2018 and 2022.” This group of consumers is here and deserves to be delighted too.

So if you’re hosting an event and looking for entertainment that will engage your non-drinking audience, trust me that interactive, strolling, close-up magic is the greatest shared experience you can create for your audience.

They’ll laugh, have fun and be astonished. And best of all, with no regrets, they’ll remember everything the next morning and tell everyone about what a great time they had.  

Ready to bring entertainment to your next event? Contact our offices at, call 1-877-567-8921, or submit our online form.

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Kostya Kimlat is a motivational speaker and magician who fooled Penn & Teller on their hit TV show, “Fool Us.” Kostya teaches conference audiences how to Think Like A Magician™ so businesses can step into the minds of their customers to improve sales and customer service.