Wall Street Holiday Parties Try Dropping Booze for Bootcamps, Smoothies

By Lawrence Delevingne and Imani Moise

December 19, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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 Dec. 12 at its New York offices. Instead, guests did yoga and bootcamp-style workouts, played ping-pong, and downed smoothies, juices and fruit-infused water.

"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, featured specialty "mocktails" at holiday parties for approximately half a dozen financial firms this year, part of 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 Wall Street, 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 organized by BlackRock Inc, D.E. 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."

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