Five years ago, Lorelei Bandrovschi’s friend urged her to stop drinking alcohol for a month. So to celebrate her 27th birthday, Bandrovschi agreed.
She never drank alcohol very much to begin with, so she thought it would be easy. It was, but she had not expected to learn so much about herself in the process.
“I realized that going out without drinking was something that I really enjoyed,” Bandrovschi told The Associated Press.
That is how Listen Bar was born in downtown Manhattan, New York. At just under a year old, the bar that Bandrovschi opened is alcohol-free. It is one of a growing number of alcohol-free bars opening up around the United States.
Listen Bar is open once a month and it serves alcohol-free “mocktails,” a play on alcoholic drinks called cocktails. Interest in such drinks is growing among young people more than ever before, especially women.
Amanda Topper is with the international market research company Mintel. She says fewer people overall are drinking alcohol in public places. Additionally, she says, the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse is leading women to find safer, more enjoyable bar environments.
Mocktails are not just appearing at alcohol-free bars. Traditional bars and restaurants are accepting the idea too.
Traditional cocktails are mixed drinks of alcohol and other ingredients. Mintel reports that alcohol-free mixed drinks grew 35 percent as a drink choice at bars and restaurants from 2016 to this year. Topper said 17 percent of 1,288 people between the ages of 22 and 24 who drink away from home said they are interested in mocktails.
She says the interest is also led in part by two other things. They are the health and wellness movement, and the availability of higher quality ingredients as bar workers take mocktails more seriously.
“It really started a few years ago with the whole idea of dry January, when consumers cut out alcohol for that month,” Topper said. It has since changed into a long-term movement and lifestyle choice, she noted.
Fred Beebe works at the restaurant Sunday in Brooklyn. Sunday is not alcohol-free, but Beebe helped create several mocktails menu using non-traditional ingredients.
Palo santo is one example. It is a tree native to Peru, Venezuela and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula that is widely used in traditional medicines.
“Alcohol, for me, is not the most important part of a cocktail anymore,” Beebe said. “The cool juices and … and mixtures and all that … makes a lot of the fun.”
At the alcohol-free bar Getaway in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, mocktails go for $13 each. There is the Paper Train, with lemon juice, tobacco syrup, vanilla and San Pellegrino soda. Another mocktail there is called A Trip to Ikea. It is a mix of lingonberry, lemon, vanilla, cardamom and cream.
Getaway co-owner Regina Dellea says she and her business partner opened the bar after his brother, who was suffering from alcohol dependence, quit drinking.
“They missed having a space to hang out in at night, where you can meet up and just talk,” she said.
Traditional suppliers are joining the movement. Beer companies are experimenting with alcohol-free selections. The United Kingdom based company Seedlip advertises itself as the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits.
Chris Marshall of Austin, Texas, who stopped drinking alcohol in 2007, was once a drug and alcohol abuse specialist. He says the people he helped often shared their displeasure about not having an alcohol-free place where they could be social. So he opened one himself: Sans Bar in Austin. Now, there are Sans Bar sites all over the country, including Washington, D.C., Seattle and Nashville, Tennessee.
“We’re taking out community spaces, coffee shops and places like that,” said Marshall.
Marnie Rae Clark, who lives outside Seattle, was also an alcohol abuser. She has experienced the struggle of socializing without alcohol and started a website about the alcohol-free lifestyle in 2017. The 51-year-old established National Mocktail Week this year, and urges bars and restaurants to offer more mocktails.
“It’s really about promoting inclusion and connection in the hospitality industry,” she said.
I’m Dorothy Gundy.
And I’m Pete Musto.
Leanne Italie reported this story for the Associated Press. Pete Musto adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
We want to hear from you. What kinds of non-traditional food and drink movements are growing in popularity in your country? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.
Words in This Story
realize(d) – v. to understand or become aware of something
bar – n. a building or room where alcoholic drinks and sometimes food are served
ingredient(s) – n. one of the things that are used to make a food or product
consumer(s) – n. a person who buys goods and services
juice(s) – n. the liquid part that can be squeezed out of vegetables and fruits
beer – n. an alcoholic drink made from malt and flavored with hops
spirits – n. strong alcoholic drinks
social – adj. relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other
promoting – v. helping something happen, develop, or increase
hospitality – n. the activity of providing food and drinks for people who are the guests or customers of an organization