A Cross-Country Guide to Sober Bars - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

A Cross-Country Guide to Sober Bars

As the alcohol-free category continues to expand, the appeal of spirit-free sips has ushered in a need for dedicated spaces for enjoying these drinks. At so-called sober bars (aka dry bars), guests can explore zero-proof spirits in creative mixed drinks while gathering in spaces that still feel like cocktail bars. No one asks “Why aren’t you drinking?” but “What are you drinking?” And menus include a thoughtful selection of alcohol-free wine, beer, and libations crafted with the same attention to detail as those in cocktail bars. This list of venues around the U.S. includes pop-up bars and bottle shops that serve on site.


Bar Nuda (Venice)

Bar Nuda may not have a brick-and-mortar location yet, but they’re making the most of being untethered by popping up in vintage shops, art studios, and even a mezcal room. Last month they served up spirit-free drinks for the LA Opera at a Santa Monica Pier event. “We are always looking for creative and intentional ways to collaborate and introduce ‘non-alcoholic’ spaces to our communities,” Pablo Murillo, Bar Nuda co-founder says. “Our goal is to redefine a night out and create a social safe space.” Bryant J. Orozco, formerly of Mírame Beverly Hills and Madre Oaxacan Restaurant, creates drinks like the Serenity Now! combining Drømme Calm, azahár, cold-brew barley tea, and coconut milk.

Ocean Beach Cafe (San Francisco)

This sober-friendly hub located in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond District makes it extra easy to find something delicious and zero-proof to imbibe. The café serves coffee and sandwiches alongside spirit-free takes on the Martini, spritz, French 75, as well as beers and wines. Shop the bottles or explore offerings via the tasting room. There’s also an event space/invite-only lounge called Temperance where owner Joshua James hosts tastings and mixology classes. Those wanting to bring the alcohol-free party home can sign up for a variety of monthly subscriptions—spirits, beer, or wine—which come with benefits such as unlimited happy hours, discounts, and club mixers.

Temperance Bar Joshua James - sober bars
Joshua James, owner of Ocean Beach Cafe and Temperance Bar. | Photo by Stanley Lui
Shirley’s Temple (Long Beach)

Named after the iconic drink, this new Long Beach, California, dry bar is a stylish spot where the sober-curious can enjoy compelling spirit-free sips. Owner and bartender Essie Evans was tired of the uninspiring options available to those who don’t drink alcohol. Her bar opened in September but she’s aiming to expand her drink menu and update it seasonally. For October, she made Ghouls & Glamour with housemade blackberry and sage syrup, lemon, Ghia soda non-alcoholic aperitif, and activated charcoal.


Bandbox (Orlando)

What started as an Art Deco-inspired art gallery evolved into an alcohol-free tasting room and bottle shop when owner Kevin Zepf decided he wanted to offer his guests NA alternatives. Now he presents a wide range of options, including a Spicy Margarita made with Ritual Tequila; bitters and tonic flights; CBD beverages, and wine and beer in his reservations-only tasting room.

Wildcrafters (Jacksonville)

Jacksonville’s first spirit-free bar, which opened its second location in August, has the vibe of a cocktail bar with live music shows and a long list of creative mixed drinks. Sip on zero-proof takes on classic cocktails, such as a Clover Club with Monday gin and a Manhattan with Ritual whiskey or Lyre’s American Malt. Or try the kava cocktails.


The Sober Social (Atlanta)

Rather than working remotely from a coffee shop, why not a dry bar with a menu of intriguing mixed drinks? Located in an office and event space in downtown Atlanta, this intimate coffee and dry bar invites guests to socialize or work over alcohol-free wine, beer, kava drinks, and “Sober Tails” like its booze-free takes on the Espresso Martini and a hibiscus Margarita. The bar has a social work club with a day pass that includes free Wi-Fi, an alcohol-free drink, and early access, as well as a monthly membership with additional benefits.


Bendición Dry Bar (Chicago)

Bendicíon’s goal is to create a space where people can enjoy a booze-free night out. Rather than mixing drinks, they invite their customers to simply enjoy their purchased beverages in the lounge. They host monthly events like a variety show, book club, and workshops. The store carries a range of no-alcohol beers, spirits, wines, and mixers from brands owned by women and marginalized communities.

The Other Side (Crystal Lake)

What started out in the early 2000s as a warehouse for storing machinery was transformed into Illinois’ first sober bar. Back then, recovering addict Chris Reed had leased the space for his construction company. But he and his friends would also meet there after their 12-step meetings and called it The Other Side. Nearly two decades later and the concept has graduated to a coffee shop in a more central part of town. They hold recovery meetings as well as welcome the community to socialize over coffee and drinks such as Pica Pica, made with Seedlip Grove 42, tamarind, lime, pineapple, and jalapeño.


Nostalgia Room (Lawrence)

Former bartender Emily Kate Johnson started her journey to sobriety in 2020 and pursued her dream to open her own dry bar. Last December, she debuted Nostalgia Room, a cozy spot decorated with vintage furniture where she serves well-crafted NA takes on classics and signature drinks made with local ingredients and spirit alternatives. Her Martini is made with a blend of gin alternatives, Lyre’s blanc vermouth, herbal tincture, plum vinegar, and olive brine.


Oak Park Dry (Oak Park)

Kenny Showler opened Berkley Coffee/Oak Park Dry in 2021 as a combination coffeehouse and dry bar to ease people into the idea of the alcohol-free bar, where one business supports the other. In addition to pour-over coffee, espresso drinks, and ice-blended coffees, the bar serves NA beer on tap as well as zero-proof canned and bottled beer, wine, plus NA versions of classic cocktails. Stay for the live music and a spirit-free Mai Tai or Amaretto Sour. Peruse the bottle shop to try out recipes at home.

Oak Park Dry Bar - Sober Bars
Oak Park Dry Bar. | Photo by Kenny Showler


Dry Spokes (Omaha)

Mi-Ya Mata first got the idea to open a sober bar after listening to an NPR interview about Sans Bar in Austin, Texas. Stuck at home during the pandemic, she explored cocktail making using the plethora of alcohol-free spirits starting to hit the market. But it was her wife, Leah, who convinced her to open up Dry Spokes. The original concept was simply as a spirit-free bottle shop until the couple realized that most people wouldn’t know how to mix the alternative spirits in drinks. Now the brick-and-mortar bar houses a small bottle shop along with a space for live events and socializing. The cocktails feature NA spirits like Monday mezcal in a Paloma and Clean R rum in a Dark & Stormy.

New York

Hekate Café and Elixir Lounge (New York City)

This women-empowered neighborhood destination is a specialty tea shop and New York’s first sober bar, opened by Abby Ehmann, who also owns the bar Lucky across the street. Drop by for comedy shows, book events, or even a tarot card reading. Spirit-free sips include beer, Curious Elixirs bottled drinks, and cocktails like a spritz with Lyre’s Italian Spritz and NA Prosecco.

Listen Bar (New York City)

To see how some of the best bartenders around are using NA spirits in cocktails, stop by one of this buzzed-about sober bar‘s pop-ups. Listen Bar from founder Lorelei Bandrovschi hosts three to four events a year, such as a Sober October/Halloween blowout and an annual alcohol-free cocktail competition. Their online menu, which is made by a who’s who of the cocktail world—including menu director Pamela Wiznitzer, Jack McGarry, and Aaron Polsky—is just a sample of the types of drinks they make, since they build special menus for each event. For those who don’t want to wait for an event, order one (or all) of their cocktail tutorial videos from the website to learn how to make drinks by the likes of Shannon Tebay and Eamon Rockey. (Try out a Rockey NA cocktail here.)

listen bar
Listen Bar pop-up. | Photo by Molly Tavoletti

North Carolina

Umbrella Dry Bar (Raleigh)

This former pop-up dry bar partnered with garden center Norwood Gardens and built a spot on its grounds where people can enjoy nonalcoholic drinks, including wine and cocktails like a marionberry sage collins, all while perusing the plants. The bar will open its own brick-and-mortar retail space and dry bar, the first of its kind in Raleigh, this winter in time for Dry January.

Umbrella in the Garden founder Meg Paradise. | Photo by The Vibrant NC


Verbena Shoppe, Cafe & Dry Bar (Cleveland)

Having taken over a former tea shop in Cleveland’s Hingetown neighborhood, Verbena serves tea, drinks, and lunch bites during the day, then switches to a dry bar with drinks and appetizers in the evening. The intimate but airy space features full seating, a bar area, and a bottle shop. The “free-spirited cocktails,” as owner Molly Cheraso calls them, spotlight NA alternatives like an Old Fashioned with Spiritless Kentucky 74 bourbon and a Pimm’s Cup with Seedlip Garden and Pathfinder.


Wilderton Tasting Room (Hood River)

In July, Wilderton debuted the country’s first NA distillery and tasting room. Created as a hub to educate those unfamiliar with NA alternatives and what to do with them, Wilderton hosts distillery tours that end with a visit to the tasting room. There, visitors can explore a guided tasting and try bottles in NA cocktails or a spritz flight, which includes a Mai Tai spritz made with the bittersweet aperitivo, orgeat, and pineapple seltzer.

Wilderton Distillery’s Tasting Room. | Photo courtesy of Wilderton


The Volstead by Unity (Philadelphia)

For founders Robert and Arielle Ashford, a dry bar was the perfect complement to their wellness enterprise, which consisted of a yoga studio, recovery center, and vegan restaurant. The vegan restaurant and zero-proof bar, Philadelphia’s first, was created as an inclusive spot for non-drinkers to socialize over St. Agrestis Phony Negronis and NA Old Fashioneds. But it’s also welcoming to those in recovery or formerly incarcerated, employing them and paying a living wage.


Sans Bar (Austin)

In 2017 Chris Marshall, a former addiction counselor, set up one of the country’s first sober bars behind a hair salon so that those in recovery would have a place where they could feel a sense of community. Now he’s taken Sans Bar across the country, popping up in Portland, New York City, and LA. He’s looking to franchise the concept, but he also teaches courses on how those interested can start their own NA brand or bar. The brick-and-mortar location in downtown Austin is open on Fridays and select Saturday nights. For $25, it’s all-you-can-drink from the NA cocktail menu, which features drinks such as a “Sans”-garita and an Old Fashioned with Ritual Whiskey.

Washington, DC

Binge Bar

Like Mi-Ya Mata of Dry Spokes, Vergie “Gigi” Arandid was inspired to open her own sober bar after reading about Austin’s Sans Bar in an airline magazine on the way to the Dominican Republic. And in February, she launched a Filipino bistro and DC’s first alcohol-free bar in D.C.’s artsy H Street Corridor, giving those looking for NA alternatives to the nearby bars a place to go. Guests can enjoy drinks—like the Green Apple Mule with a gin alternative, muddled mint and green apple, lemon, green apple puree, and ginger beer—while snacking on Filipino bites, such as lumpia and seitan adobo. It’s now one of Mindful Mixology author Derek Brown’s favorite spirit-free places to drink in town.

Binge Bar owner Vergie “Gigi” Arandid | Photo by Andrew J. Williams III/@ajwthethird


Inmoxicated (Racine)

As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, Shannon Goodman understands the challenges of wanting to socialize with friends at a bar, so she founded Inmoxicated, an 18-and-over “sobar” and bottle shop in downtown Racine. By offering an alcohol-free inclusive space with karaoke, game nights, and monthly “soberversary” parties, she hopes to normalize one’s decision to not drink. While the bar serves spirit-free cocktails, including an NA take on the Wisconsin Old Fashioned, the bottle shop is touted as offering the region’s “largest and most diverse selection of alcohol-free beverages and alcohol-free beverage alternatives.”

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