The growing awareness for the need for sober spaces is increasing. Restaurants around the country are starting to feature festive non-alcoholic drinks on their menu, which is progress, but there is a potential challenge for those who are looking for spaces where alcohol is not a factor. Thankfully, fun and good times are on the list at these locations, and we are here for it!
Here are five places that exclusively serve non-alcoholic beverages. Each location, whether it’s a monthly pop-up or a permanent location, was created to carve out space for people who are looking to connect and convene without alcohol, regardless of the reason. Let’s see what’s on their drink menus and how they are creating sober friendly spaces in their communities.
1818 E. 12th Street, Austin, TX
Located in Austin, Texas, Sans Bar is a weekly pop-up founded by Chris Marshall in 2017. Marshall’s background as a substance abuse counselor fueled his passion for creating sober-friendly spaces. He is working “in memory of those wonderful people who are no longer here to experience an abundant life,” according to Sans Bar’s website.
Stocked with bottles of Austin favorite Topo Chico and Dry Soda Co, Marshall crafts sober drinks that packed full flavor and that deviate from the booze-free standard club soda and cranberry. Cocktails include a Rosemary & Ginger Mule and an Elderberry Presse. After grabbing a beverage, patrons can catch some live music or sing their hearts out during karaoke.
In addition to the weekly pop-up in East Austin, Sans Bar is taking the concept on the road. The Sans Bar national tour has a couple more stops left this summer, in Nashville, TN, (8/3) and Los Angeles, CA, (9/28). There are also affiliate pop-ups in Kansas City, MO, Easthampton, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC, that will be launching the coming months.
The Other Side:
93 Berkshire Dr, Crystal Lake, IL
The longest-running establishment on our list is The Other Side. It’s a sober bar located in the Chicago suburbs that was opened in 2013 by Chris Reed. The Other Side is a self-described sober bar with a lounge area featuring games pool tables, ping-pong, and more. Events also feature karaoke, open mic, comedy, and dancing. Fellowship is the focus in this space, offering soft drinks and energy drinks available for purchase. Unlike the other spaces that are owner-operated, The Other Side is a project from New Directions Addiction Recovery Services that offers addiction treatment services. Proceeds from the bar fund addiction education. The Other Side offers a membership model (starting at $10 a month) to help sustain the space.
Listen Bar at Von Bar:
3 Bleecker St, New York, NY
One of the first out the gate in the NYC sober bar scene, Listen Bar launched last fall. It’s the first pop-up event that is self-funded by founder Lorelei Bandrovschi with the goal of giving people a place to go when they don’t feel like drinking. Each cocktail is dedicated to a “muse,” someone in American culture that is living a booze-free life. Cocktail options include Actual Sunshine (made with Seedlip Grove, mango, Pilot turmeric kombucha, and Kin Euphorics) or She’s So Pretty (made with strawberry, rosewater, egg white, and edible flowers). Listen Bar partners with top mixologists in the city as well as a nutritionist and herbalist to ensure the menu is inclusive of dietary restrictions yet thoughtful and innovative as any beverage with booze might be.
All the bartenders at Listen Bar are musicians and each curates the space’s playlist, which features their music and music that inspires them. In addition to sipping on creative beverages, patrons can partake in astrology readings, speed dating, and even get a tattoo if they wish.
Currently a monthly pop up, Listen bar is crowdfunding for a permanent space.
158 Green St. Brooklyn, NY
The second location in NYC comes from the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn. Getaway was started by Sam Thonis and Regina Dellea, who opened the brick-and-mortar location earlier this year to create a space for those interested in having a night out but not looking to imbibe. Cozy couches and chic decor make this space Instagram-worthy, and zero-proof cocktail menu was created to surprise and delight patrons.
Drink options include things like the spicy concoction, That’s Just My Face (made with mango and jalapeño purée, lime, elderflower tonic, and black sesame), and A Trip to Ikea (made with Lingonberry, lemon, vanilla, cardamom, and cream) that evokes a playful interpretation of the famed retailer’s food court. For bottles and cans, Getaway carries an array of tonics and bitter Italian sodas. They also have Dona’s new line of beverages; with intoxicating flavors such as Pink Lemon Peppercorn or Juniper Lime, there is a beverage option for all palates.
Getaway also recently added a food menu of small plates drying from local vendors.
12 Mall Way Suite 1, West Sand Lake, New York
Located in the small town of West Sand Lake, Unbreakable Nutrition is a daytime spot offering smoothies and energizing teas. Opened in 2018 by Elissa Emery and Sarah Wehnau, the idea for the smoothie and tea bar was to create an alcohol-free space for patrons in their rural area. This is a family-friendly spot for patrons to stop by before going into work, a late afternoon meeting, or for teens to stop by after school.
Beverages served at this daytime spot include protein-packed smoothies and energizing tea infusions with flavors from passion fruit and Tahitian Sunrise, to Swedish Fish and Bahama Mama. Their decadent dessert shakes are perfect for those who are looking for a sweet treat. Since opening last year, Unbreakable Nutrition has been opening four additional locations throughout the Capital Region of New York.
Interested in checking out these spots? Make sure you follow them via their social media channels to confirm availability or if there is a cover charge. Then, don’t be afraid to take a road trip with your sober buddies if you don’t live in one of these cities. Cheers!