Bartender behind a bar pouring a cocktail or mocktail from a shaker into a martini glass.
Alcohol-free bars provide the same community, fun, and good drinks as other bars — just without the alcohol. — Getty Images/ Helen Yin

With alcohol consumption trending downward and the non-alcoholic beverage market growing to $11 billion in 2022, it’s no surprise that dry cocktail lounges and bottle shops are popping up in metro areas throughout the country. Here are a few “dry” bars that are changing the nightlife landscape.

Sans Bar

Possibly the first alcohol-free bar in the United States, Sans Bar was established in 2017 by Chris Marshall. Having been sober since 2007, Marshall is a big proponent of living alcohol-free and building community. Sans Bar is just one way that Marshall — a mental health advocate, writer, and public speaker — has pursued this mission.

Marshall started out doing pop-ups around Austin and quickly gained enough traction to open a brick-and-mortar. In 2023, Sans Bar expanded a bit by partnering with Swift Fit Events to offer zero-proof cocktails to patrons of the Texas Wellness Oasis. Every Friday night, this wellness center offers a free sound bath followed by an evening of Sans Bar mocktails.

Beyond the bar, Marshall hosts in-person and virtual hangouts, retreats, and other events for people living the sober lifestyle. He also offers a program to help other entrepreneurs start their own alcohol-free brands, pop-ups, or bars.

Inmoxicated Dry Bar

A bottle shop in Racine, Wisconsin where you can take your booze-free beverages to go or enjoy at the “sobar,” Inmoxicated Dry Bar wants to normalize the decision to not drink alcohol.

Shannon Goodman is the “alcohol-free human” behind this dry space, and has been on and off the wagon for the past decade. Struggling the most with environments that focus on alcohol, she wanted to make a safe haven for folks who don’t drink. Originally from Washington state, Goodman noticed a lot more binge drinking in Wisconsin, so she sought to have a positive impact on her community by offering this alternative kind of watering hole.

Goodman also recognized that alcohol-free alternatives weren’t widely available in conventional bars or stores, so she wanted to make them more accessible. Inmoxicated Dry Bar offers a big selection of non-alcoholic beverages from all over the world. "I've watched the market grow over the years. And for me, that was a real game-changer,” Goodman said.

Inmoxicated Dry Bar wants to normalize the decision to not drink alcohol.

The Bandbox

“Spirit-free for the free-spirit,” The Bandbox is a dry speakeasy in Orlando, Florida. This 1920s- inspired tasting lounge and bottle shop serves non-alcoholic cocktails, beer, and wine, as well as elixirs, tonics, shrubs, and CBD beverages. With many unique drinks on the menu, tastings are encouraged and the staff are eager to guide and educate everyone who passes through.

Captivated by the art-deco style of the ‘20s and ‘30s, Kevin Zepf drew from that when conceptualizing this intimate space in the Ivanhoe Village District. Vintage glassware, an embossed gold ceiling, and black-and-white films playing in the background transport guests back to the Jazz Age. Some nights,The Bandbox even hosts live jazz music.

This 10-person speakeasy fills up quickly, so reservations are required. There is also a patio where customers can enjoy to-go drinks or bottle shop purchases.

Nostalgia Room

A gathering place for all the teetotalers in town, Nostalgia Room is the bar Emily Kate Johnson always wanted — but better. After years of battling, Johnson went sober in 2020. Reassured by a mentor that a dry bar was possible, she decided to fulfill her long-time dream in 2022.

Located above Repetition Coffee in Lawrence, Kansas, this coffee shop meets temperance bar is decorated with art, photos, furniture, and trinkets that are near and dear to Johnson’s heart. Her grandfather, who found sobriety in 1961, was a big source of inspiration for the bar. Relics from Johnson’s late grandparents and other loved ones give the room a sense of warmth and tell an important story of support and love.

Johnson was trained by several local talents in bartending. Even so, she says non-alcoholic drinks “are honestly harder to make than anything I ever made with alcohol because I don’t have 2 ounces of whiskey to rely on.” She uses local ingredients whenever possible and is always experimenting with new recipes.

STAY.

New to Los Angeles and nestled in Chinatown, STAY. is a zero-proof cocktail lounge that’s been meticulously curated to give the sober serious or sober curious an upscale bar experience — without the booze. Formerly the Hong Kong Café, a restaurant and prominent music venue, the space has kept some of its original fixtures like the ornate ceilings. Photos from the punk rock era line the halls, and the facade of the building remains unchanged. The owners, an interior designer and an art director, have otherwise completely transformed it into a sultry, comfortable, alcohol-free zone.

Summer Phoenix and Stacey Mann are the women behind STAY. They first brainstormed this idea about 10 years ago, but they really started planning at the tail end of the pandemic. They wanted to create a place for people to hang out “where alcohol wasn’t the focus.” Though there are plenty of spots in the area that serve non-alcoholic drinks, STAY. is the first to not serve alcohol at all.

STAY.’s specialty cocktails are all inspired by the 12 Chinese zodiac signs: the Rat, the Ox, the Dragon, etc. There are also NA wine and beer options on the menu, as well as small vegan bites, sweet treats, and coffee beverages.

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