Feeling sober-curious? You're not alone. A growing number of New Yorkers are cutting back on the booze. Be it for health, wealth or otherwise, we've started seeing (and sipping) non-alcoholic options on bar menus all over the city. Being stone-cold sober? It's in.
Forget flat Diet Cokes and watery lime and sodas, though. New York's new-breed alcohol-free cocktails are as creative as their spirit-infused sisters. "The sober movement" - which has already revolutionised London's non-alcoholic offering - is forcing bartenders to innovate as they flex the traditions of their craft to the extremes, switching hangover-inducing ABVs for health-enhancing ingredients, and seeking out zero-per-cent bottles with tasting notes that match those of classic cocktails.
There are now enough "no- and low-" sippers in the city for a handful of non-alcoholic liquor stores to have set up shop, too. Minus Moonshine arrived in Brooklyn earlier this year, promising "dry drinks and potions" to go; Boisson just opened its third shop on the Upper East Side; while pastel-pretty Sèchey, in the West Village, stocks over 70 brands of alcohol-free wines, beers and spirits for furnishing booze-free drinks cabinets.
And while dry bars are still a rarity, many of the city's new kids on the block are taking the trend seriously, making mocktails a key part of their offering. It's time to can the hangover - here are seven NYC bars and pop-ups we think you're going to like.
Swappin' cocktails for mocktails: New York's best bars for alcohol-free drinks
Park the word mocktails at the door of this Flatiron District restaurant and bar; at abcV, you'll be drinking "vibrations". Ignore the Goop-iness of it all - chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's veggie, non-GMO and organic menu is an intelligent attempt to inspire a cultural shift towards plant-based eating and drinking. There's alcohol on the menu, but there are also locally made kombuchas, cold-press juices, house-made soda and three vibration concoctions of medical-sounding herbs, teas and plants designed to elevate your mood, boost immunity and inspire mindfulness, respectively.38 E 19th St, NY 10003 +1 212 475 5829 abckitchens.nyc
Though first and foremost a bottle shop for booze-free brands, Sèchey - French for dry-ish - runs weekly tastings and events under the striped awning of its West Village branch, offering sober-curious New Yorkers a chance to taste the artisanal non-alcoholic spirits, wines and beers stocked on its art deco-inspired shelves. Founder Emily Heintz launched the brand in Charleston, South Carolina; the West Village location is the second branch and its female founder has plans to soon hire a bartender for the space. Take a seat at the counter today and you'll be able to try a flight of three dry drinks, before picking up a bottle of Vera Spirits' Aperitivo Herbal or Ritual Zero Proof Rum Alternative to add to your drinks cabinet.632 Hudson St, NY 10014 +1 854 202 1443 sechey.com
Conversations over cocktails at a Listen Bar pop-up.
When Listen Bar founder Lorelei Bandrovschi quit drinking for a month, she wasn't expecting to love it so much. But she did - and her newfound sobriety provided the inspiration for Listen Bar, a no-booze pop-up that's been making the (sober) rounds of the New York party circuit. Past events have included a bar takeover and a rooftop rave. Keep an eye on the bar's Instagram account to catch the next ABV-free night, where sophisticated cocktails might include a frozen colada-like coco-matcha concoction, a tongue-tingling lime, coriander, jalapeño, grapefruit and Jarritos pour, and the floral-infused she pretty, which sees rosewater paired with egg white, then garnished with edible flowers and fresh strawberries.
It doesn't matter what you order at this Greenpoint bar; the entire menu is on-the-wagon, cocktails, beer and wine included. Skip the hangover by order a blushing Dottie's crush - a refreshing mix of Fiore non-alcoholic aperitivo, ginger vinegar cordial, fresh lemon juice and ginger juice and mint - or the tangy one night stand, featuring Seedlip Grove 42 with lime juice and honey syrup. At the moment, the team is collaborating with friends at pop-up The Blue Light Speak Cheesy on a breakfast offering, but they've assured us that the bar menu will be back for 2023.158 Green St, NY 11222 +1 929 337 6025 getaway.bar
Absence of Proof founder, Elizabeth Gascoigne at a no-alcohol night. | Photo credit: AJ Portrait
Absence of Proof
Billing her pop-up dry nights as "a night off of drinking", founder Elizabeth Gascoigne's non-alcoholic nightlife concept is putting the fun back into being stone-cold sober. Taking over city venues with a menu of eight swish mocktails, plus canned no-alcohol options, each Absence of Proof event aims to bring New York's typical late-night energy to the party, sans alcohol. There's nothing AA about it, though. While some guests will be firmly on the wagon, others might just be trying to drink more intentionally - and the set-up is firmly NYC-suave in style (think, guests in Cult Gaia dresses, plus vintage glassware picks). In January, the brand's sober speakeasy will be running every Friday.
Perched some 150m (or 50 floors) above Manhattan's streets on the Ritz-Carlton's rooftop, José Andrés' swanky Nubeluz is a recent addition to the NYC cocktail scene that's well aware of keeping in lane with the sober movement. A spirit-free selection of drinks is given the same TLC as the bar's top-notch alcohol offering. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide 270-degree views of the city's canopy of skyscrapers, while jewel-toned seating and dim lighting adds a seductive air. Drinks pioneer Miguel Lancha (the brains behind Washington DC's Barmini) formulated the menu, crafting four fabulous alcohol-free offerings. Our order? The firefly - a dry, smoky drink that uses zero-ABV Gnista Barreled Oak as a base, before adding layers of saffron, Thai basil and chilli tincture to finish.25 W 28th St, NY 10001 +1 332 249 8151 nubeluzbyjose.com
Sunday in Brooklyn
Take a seat at the walnut-wood bar of this Williamsburg restaurant and you'll be able to sip alcohol-free cocktails morning, noon and night. The all-day spot transitions from daytime brunches to after-dark dining, and puts just as much care into its "zero proof" concoctions as it does the full-blown boozy affairs. Sink a strawberry buck at brunch (non-alcoholic whiskey, with strawberry, ginger, lemon and soy), then switch to the red pepper and pineapple-infused jungle bird for dinner, made using prohibition-proof rum.348 Wythe Av, NY 11249 +1 347 222 6722 sundayinbrooklyn.com