It’s not often that you hear “New York City” and “sober” in the same sentence. From historical speakeasies to nightlife landmarks such as House of Yes, Paul’s, and Le Bain, drinking culture has been tied to the city since its inception. But with #selfcare growing in popularity and social media’s guarantee that you’ll never live down that one drunken night you peed on the tracks of the G, it’s unsurprising to find that the sale of nonalcoholic beverages is increasing. And with them, nonalcoholic bars.
“Social drinking” is changing meaning at several spots across the city, where nonalcoholic cocktails, gourmet sodas, and tea elixirs are enjoyed inside what would otherwise look - and feel - like a wet bar. “People that don’t drink also want a hip environment,” says a patron of Getaway, a Greenpoint mocktail bar. “[They don’t want to be] stuck going to a restaurant or a movie.”
In a culture that defaults to drinking as the go-to social activity, bars such as Getaway are challenging the nightlife norm for occasional drinkers and sober folk alike. Keep scrolling for the spots putting sober-friendly spaces on the map.
“Don’t drink with us!” reads the menu at Getaway, a 100% alcohol-free venue mixing up their own mocktails, “shrubs”, and sodas in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Serving a slightly retro vibe, Getaway appeals to those looking for a good trivia night (Tuesdays!) or wondering what A Trip to Ikea tastes like (“zingy”, the menu describes the original concoction).
Inspired by founder Lorelei Bandrovschi’s goal to complete a month without drinking, Listen Bar is a pop-up dry bar and event space open one night a month. Credited with having hosted the very first alcohol-free NYFW party, Listen Bar’s mission to “rewrite nightlife beyond alcohol” includes mocktail competitions, concerts, DJ sets, and live tattoos. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, all of Listen’s bartenders are musicians, themselves.
Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain
Reopened a century after its debut, Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain of Carroll Gardens serves up an array of sodas, shakes, malts, coffee, tea, and cookies. Open late on Friday and Saturday nights, the soda fountain makes for an alt night out.
Juicebox Heroes, located in the Lower East Side, is a fully sober karaoke bar making going out as painless as possible for non-drinkers. Connected to Mini Rex, an alcohol-serving bar, Juicebox Heroes goes so far as to hire sober bartenders and staff who are also trained in how to reduce sexual violence and harrassment in nightlife spaces.
Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl’s “Virgin Isles” mocktail menu and “post-modern Polynesian inspired” atmosphere earns an honorable mention for sober inclusion and aesthetic excellence.
The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club
While drinks are available for consumption, The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club offers a variety of other beverages and food from select food trucks, as well as an objective other than shots, shots, shots - shuffleboard. The seemingly vintage pastime has grown in popularity amongst those looking outside the neighborhood bar for a night out.
“The Original Arcade Bar” opened in Williamsburg in 2004, fusing two graphic designers’ love for classic American video games and beer. Though it’s unlikely there’s a mocktail menu, teetotalers can grab a soda and focus on breaking the Pac Man high score instead of staring back at a bar full of bottles.
Champions of the “secret concert”, Sofar Sounds transforms everyday spaces into temporary music venues bringing small crowds to artists on the up-and-up. Tickets are sold in a lottery, and you won’t know which three acts are playing until you arrive. Discover a new favorite artist to brag about, or just listen to something better than a drunk finance bro trying to pick up the girl next to you.
The Get Down
No drinks on the dance floor. No phones anywhere. Consent is everything. These are the rules of The Get Down, the popular dance rave made for anyone looking to let everything out. Founded by DJ Tasha Blank, The Get Down encourages sweat, instinct, comradery, and acceptance. And, as they say, nothing good happens after midnight, which is why these parties end at a safe 10 pm.
Written by Alyson Zetta Williams