The sober-curious movement and the non-alcoholic craft beer movement quickly putting the idea of not drinking on the front page of publications everywhere, so it’s no surprise that the alcohol-free bar movement is following suit. Nationwide and truly, all over the world, sober bars are popping up. Sometimes these establishments are one-night only, or one night a month, to satiate locals’ desire to be trend followers and trendsetters. Others are more permanent establishments that, over even just a short time, build a buzz, a crowd, a scene, and even regulars of their own.
These bars make sense to people in recovery. Individuals who have had to quit drinking due to struggles with alcohol abuse or alcoholism often find that even once they are free of liquor’s addictive and abusive clutches, they miss the fun and camaraderie they once experienced nightly on the barstool. Jokes are made, stories are told, networking is done, and relationships are begun all within the walls of bars around the world. If you’re a recovering alcoholic, though, bars and all that comes with them are off-limits to you – until now.
Why Sober Bars & Why Now?
Sober bars are a new idea and its hard to pinpoint who began the trend. However, sober bar owners all seem to have similar stories. In most cases, they themselves cut back or quit drinking before opening their temporary or permanent sober bar. Some had friends or loved ones who quit drinking, and after going out with them one night realized the lack of options for non-drinkers to be in an alcohol-free social setting. All seemed to come to a realization that while they loved the bar space they owned and operated, it could be just as much fun – if not more fun – without alcohol being served.
These bars are not just for people in recovery – in fact, a lot of people who visit them aren’t sober at all. These bars do attract people who never drink alcohol, certainly, but they are also attractive to people who would like to drink less, take a night off, or who consider themselves sober curious. Women, in particular, seem to be especially interested in sober bars because they don’t have to worry as much about creepy men coming on to them; they can have a good time, sing, dance, hang with friends, and make connections with people knowing that neither party is inebriated.
As Americans begin to focus more on our health, people are drawn to sober bars because they can socialize in a bar-like atmosphere without feeling tired, worn out, or hungover the next day. When someone has spent a few hours at the gym and plans to get up early for a mountain hike the next day, he or she will likely think twice about throwing back some drinks before bed. At a sober bar, visitors can chat, laugh, relax, and socialize, while still being fully ready for whatever the next day has to offer.
Sober Bars in America
As one might expect, the majority of alcohol-free bars are popping up initially in large urban centers. For a trend to really take off, it needs to begin near a lot of people. Opening a sober bar in a major city allows for easy marketing through both traditional channels as well as word of mouth, and in time, a client base begins to grow.
One of the most well-known non-alcoholic bars out there is Getaway, which is located in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City. It is quite popular and is always buzzing with activity – but not alcohol. Fancy mocktails delight the palates of drinkers who line up to hang out together any night of the week. It only opened in April, but its already a big hit.
Other alcohol-free bars exist in other parts of the USA and even abroad. The Other Side, located in the Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake features a pool table, ping pong tables, bag toss gams and video games and offers open mic nights, comedy, dancing, and karaoke in addition to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Pop’s Blue Moon Barof St Louis, Missouri has been in business since 1908 but transforms into a sober bar every Saturday night since November of last year, and it’s doing well. In London, the alcohol-free Redemption Bar has three locations, and in alcohol-soaked Dublin, an alcohol-free pub called The Virgin Mary opened in May.
A Rising Star
It seems that alcohol-free or sober bars are here to stay and more and more people – both those in recovery and those who aren’t – are getting out there to try them out. In time, this trend may fade away or may grow; only time will tell. Thankfully, for now at least, these bars offer a pleasant place to socialize without worrying about drinking alcohol, and that’s great for anyone who visits. It will be exciting to see what’s in the future for sober bars here, there, and everywhere.
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