Within a crowded bar, an all-too-familiar scene plays out: A group of friends laughs, clinking glasses for a toast. Couples cozy up to each other and strangers buy one another drinks. Perhaps they’re even leaning in to flirt or to yell across the bar to get their order in.
There’s only one major difference: There’s no alcohol. Barhopping is often embedded in a travel experience, but what role does drinking culture play as a growing number of people identify as sober curious? Be it for health or religious reasons, or even just rebounding from pandemic binges, the demand for booze-free experiences has increased—and the market reflects that. In fact, businesses have launched around the concept of booze-free bars in the past five years.
An alcohol-free experience doesn’t mean losing the craft involved in making a craft cocktail—some bartenders see it as a welcome challenge. Here’s a list of our boozeless bars around the world that have gotten particularly creative with their mixology:
In the United States . . .
Sans Bar Austin, Texas
Drawing from his experience as a licensed substance abuse counselor, Sans Bar owner Chris Marshall wanted to create a social space where people could make deep, meaningful connections. Marshall says the environment is even engineered to encourage those connections, from the warm lighting to the music turned down enough that you don’t have strain to hear converstations. At the zero-proof bar, open every Friday, patrons gather to play games, sing karaoke, or simply not be alone. Sans Bar has also branched out to offer camping trips and online alcohol-free cocktail workshops.
Awake Bar Denver, Colorado
Coffee shop by day and sober bar by night, Awake Bar has a casual after-hours vibe in an intimate space. The menu still makes mention of “gin” and “tequila,” but the liquors it uses are nonalcoholic—guaranteeing you won’t wake up with a headache. Try the Desert Rose, a Kin High Rhode–based cocktail with burnt honey, black cardamom, and orange blossom.
Wildcrafters Jacksonville, Florida
Wildcrafters, a wood-accented nonalcoholic bar, serves tea, craft cocktails, and kava-based drinks. Try the Witchy Woman, a “wild cocktail” made of Ritual Zero Proof Tequila, blueberry, sage, lime, and merlot salt. If you’re not sure what to get, go for a Talk To Me—the bartender will make a custom drink based on your preferences.
Listen Bar New York City
If you don’t have a sober bar near you but you’re curious about booze-free cocktails, Listen Bar is an online sober space where you can learn to make your own alcohol-free cocktails via private classes or online courses.
. . . and abroad
0% Tokyo, Japan
This futuristic-themed bar in Tokyo isn’t just about having a booze-free experience. Japan’s first nonalcoholic bar has a much deeper philosophy: to help customers reset their minds and find clarity, with the help of ASMR sounds, CBD-laced food and drinks, and a fully vegan menu. Its otherworldly looking craft cocktail, Iceland Bubble, brings together flavors like vinegar, ginger brown sugar syrup, and pineapple—all part of the departure from the everyday.
The Virgin Mary Bar Dublin, Ireland
Since May 2019, the Virgin Mary has made a name for itself as Ireland’s first alcohol-free “well-being” bar. Here, the aptly named Virgin Mary—its riff on a Bloody Mary—uses hand-pressed tomato juice and comes “rich in vitamins and antioxidants.” The Virgin Mary’s success has been so great, it has plans to expand to a second location in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Zeroliq Berlin, Germany
Berlin’s first zero-alcohol bar, Zeroliq offers a wide range of nonalcoholic wines, beers, and cocktails. With 30 different craft beers available and in-house craft cocktails, Zeroliq’s atmosphere isn’t far from a regular hipster neighborhood bar. If you weren’t clued in by its name or its menu, it’d be hard to tell that Zeroliq doesn’t serve booze.
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