With more and more of us wondering why socialising has to come at the expense of our health, a new trend for healthy dry bars is rising around the globe. Catriona McBride seeks out the stylish alternatives cropping up from Sydney to New York
From bottomless brunches to happy hour deals, it can often seem like our downtime revolves entirely around drinking. This can make socialising a difficult area to navigate for non-drinkers and those taking a break. However, if you’re contemplating dry January this year or are thinking about joining the growing number of people who are putting alcohol on the back burner for good, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy yourself just as much thanks to a crop of new dry bars appearing around the world. And you’ll get to revel in the added bonus of better health and no headache the morning after!
Because cafes tend to close at night, options can be limited for those who want to meet up with friends away from the alcohol-soaked atmosphere of a pub or bar. However, a growing number of alcohol-free bars are bridging this gap by providing the mood lighting and sophisticated surroundings of a bar, just without the alcohol. Whether you want to grab a quick drink before a movie or make an evening of it with drinks and a vegan dinner, dry bars such as Redemption based in London’s Shoreditch and Notting Hill offer this option with alcohol completely taken out of the equation. At bars like this, a large selection of mocktails and other delicious alcohol-free drinks are given centre stage and served with as much care and attention as any cocktail would be in a traditional bar.
Tee-total doesn’t need to be tedious and nowhere is this truer than in LA and New York, where hip young 20 and 30-somethings are getting creative when it comes to embracing sober socialising as more fun and fulfilling than anything that happens over a few cocktails. Movements like Club SÖDA NYC (Sober or Debating Abstinence) and The Shine are challenging the ingrained connection between alcohol and dating or partying by running events for people who are interested in redefining what it means to go out and have a great time. For the members of these new tribes, abstinence is celebrated through debates, talks, performances and get-togethers where although alcohol is off the menu, fun and fantastic new experiences most certainly aren’t.
All too often non-drinkers have to make do with the same old sugary soft drink options on evenings out. But these days there’s no reason why those on the wagon can’t enjoy just as special an experience as their harder-drinking companions. Dubai is the place to be to enjoy world-beating alcohol-free concoctions that are just as stunning as the views on display whilst you sip them. Gold on 27, located on the 27th floor of the Burj Al Arab Jumeriah is a case in point. Here, mocktails and cocktails are listed together proving that alcohol-free is anything but an afterthought. Why not try a fabulously exotic creation such as A Ghaf, A Goat and A Camel, which is made from cascara milk, bourbon vanilla, white peach nectar and sweet goat cheese meringue?
Gone are the days when non-drinking diners were left to contemplate the water jug as their friends got stuck into fine grapes painstakingly selected to complement their gourmet food. Ever since the world-renowned Noma restaurant in Copenhagen introduced a juice flight as an alcohol-free alternative to its famous wine flight, the idea of a non-alcoholic juice pairing for a restaurant’s signature dishes has taken off, particularly in Australia. Sydney’s stylish and innovative Momofuku Seibo has quite the reputation for the onion juice that comes as part of its non-alcoholic food and drink pairing and Attica in Melbourne uses the fruits of its kitchen garden to create its fabulous alcohol-free flight.
Berlin, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Bangalore, San Francisco, Sydney and Zurich are just some of the many cities London-based Morning Gloryville has travelled to on its mission to bring ‘conscious clubbing’ to the world. These high-energy, totally sober morning raves attract big name DJs like Fat Boy Slim and Basement Jaxx and are designed to appeal to anyone who would rather get up at 6am than go to bed then! Their 6.30 – 10.30am duration also makes them accessible for those who want to start the working day on a natural high by getting down on the dance floor with hundreds of like-minded people. For music lovers who would still rather put their dancing shoes on at night, why not try an alcohol-free nightclub? Ireland’s Funky Seomra runs club nights in Dublin, Cork and Galway designed for people who still want to dance the night away, just without the distraction of drinking.
With all these cool new alternatives to the traditional boozy night out, it’s clear that a night on the town without alcohol doesn’t have to be a sobering thought.