Photo Credit: Tonje Thilesen/courtesy Listen Bar
Thankfully, Sober Bars Are More Popular Than I Thought
There are many reasons why someone may opt out of drinking. Aside from the always assumed choice of personal preference, other reasons can include pregnancy, poor medicine interactions, bad allergic reactions, weight management, chemotherapy, or existing chronic diseases.
I chose to stop drinking to test its effects on my mental health. I’m writing this two months sober, and have since learned about many alternative options to alcohol consumption that don’t sacrifice the social rituals I’ve been so used to. A whole world of #sobercurious people and #substancefree communities exist to end the stigma and support non-drinkers in fun ways.
Despite being new to this lifestyle, I learned early on how fragile sobriety is. With time I have had to slowly re-learn how to do things sober. This often meant only being out for two hours until I could master staying out a full night while my friends passed bottles of tequila around.
It hasn’t been easy. Yes, I no longer wake up insanely anxious, but I am still human. I still crave alcohol on days when I’m stressed or sad. I was every day at 6 pm “shoot o’clock” girl. Even though I’m not drinking, I still want to blow off steam after a long week of exhausting my creative juices. And, I shouldn’t have to compromise my sobriety to do so. If you are sober, neither do you.
I recently learned there are also zero-proof drinks. There are also bars that carry some of these spirits, although not always. Alcohol has always been a huge part of my traveling experience. The first time I got drunk was in high school during an exchange program in Paris, France. It was the best — my friend and I bought bottles of wine, drank them under the Eiffel Tower, and then stumbled on the metro back to our hotels. I have yet to travel abroad sober because I don’t feel quite ready for that yet. But I have been doing a lot of research.
Below are sober bars across the U.S that have responded to the need for more inclusive non-alcoholic social settings. Happy zero-proof drinking!
Threes Brewery (brooklyn, NY)
One of the things I miss the most about drinking is beer. I still consider myself a beer snob. realizing I don’t need to compromise my love for beer has been great. Threes Brewery in Gowanus, NYC is a beer garden offering non-alcoholic beers, a huge backyard, and food by The Meat Hook, which serves things like a dry-aged double cheeseburger with raclette until midnight on weekends.
Sans Bar (Austin, Kansas City, Los Angeles)
Sans Bar is a Black-owned sober bar franchise with three permanent locations in Austin, Kansa City, and Los Angeles. The bar offers a thorough drink menu, from non-alcoholic wine to “hops water” (zero-proof sparkling water made infused with beer hop oil) to inventive mocktails made from fresh juices and non-alcoholic spirits from brands like Seedlip.
27 Restaurant and Bar (Miami, FL)
27 Restaurant and Bar at the Freehand Hotel in Miami, offers “bespoke” cocktails — custom drinks for guest made on the spot. In this case, the “Bartenders’ Choice” asks guests to specify their liquor of choice (and “no liquor” is a viable option), whether they’d like their drink shaken or stirred, and their preferred flavor profile (“light,” “tropical,” “bitter,” “sour,” “herbal,” etc.)
Bar Tonic (New Orleans, Louisinanna)
Bar Tonique in the French Quarter has an encyclopedic cocktail menu including a page of booze-free libations, many of which center around fresh, seasonal fruit. Bar Tonique also offers mocktails to designated drivers free of charge, promoting the bar’s support for safe nightlife practices.
Oak At Fourteenth (Boulder, CO)
At Oak at Fourteenth, located in Boulder, Colorado, lists its cocktails by the amount of alcohol present in each drink. The High Alcohol section contains beverages made from multiple spirits. Their No Alcohol section is devoted to high-concept mocktails like the Secret Handshake (“Citrus Grove” Seedlip, vanilla, coconut water, orange, mango, elderflower tonic).
ABV Bar (San Francisco, CA)
ABV Bar is an inclusive bar that offers a “0%” section on its drink menu. On this menu, sober customers can find zero-proof beers, mocktails, and tonics.
Sucker Punch Bar (Portland, OR)
Suckerpunch Bar is a zero-proof bar that began as a no-booze cocktail kit vendor in 2020. Thanks to the amazing support of Portland’s community Suckerpunch has expanded into a physical space in Portland, Oregon, offering a unique, curated menu of alcohol-free drinks. The bar is 18+.
ArKay House (Loredo, Texas)
ArKay House opened in May 2018 with around 40 non-alcoholic beverage offerings produced by owner Reynald Vito Grattagliano who created his own recipes for non-alcoholic spirits. The bar serves coffee in the morning and switches to NA drinks around 4pm (noon on weekends). Menus of non-alcoholic cocktails and seasonal “elixirs” are accompanied by sandwiches and finger food. An on-site bottle shop sells NA beer, wine, and ArKay NA spirits to take home. At the moment, ArKay is looking to expand to other cities.
Sobriety looks different to everyone. There are many who avoid spirits with <.05% alcohol while others are okay with it. When in doubt, there is always the option of ordering a cocktail on the menu without the alcohol.