January has become a popular month to practice total sobriety, resetting our bodies for the year ahead. But increasingly, Dry January isn’t the only reason that people are refraining from drinking alcohol at the moment — we’re actually just drinking less, or not at all, all year round.
According to data cited in a CNBC article from last year, alcohol consumption across the world dropped 1.6% in 2018 (it’s still a little too early in the year to know what 2019’s trends were, but it’s fair to say the sober-curious movement has only gained ground).
Whether you’re participating in Dry January or more permanently trying out being sober curious — a term that describes stopping or reducing your alcohol intake for the sake of wellness — you don’t have to avoid Austin bars. Many of them are coming around to the idea that cocktails don’t have to be made with booze, and are now giving zero-proof drinks a similar attention to detail.
>> RELATED: At one East Austin bar, hold the alcohol — welcome to Sans Bar
In other words, cocktails sans booze aren’t just a soda and lime anymore. There are now a number of products targeted toward the zero-proof consumer, such as this line of nonalcoholic spirits, Seedlip, that are finding their own place behind the bar.
Here’s where to go this month and beyond for a taste of fun flavors without the alcohol.
Bar Peached, 1315 W. 6th St.
Shrubs are a tried-and-true way to add complex flavor to drinks while keeping the ingredients simple. The sweet, acidic mixture of fruit, sugar and vinegar is combined with sparkling water at Bar Peached and its older sibling spot, the Peached Tortilla. The seasonal drinking vinegars rotate every few months and have incorporated balsamic, purple grape, basil and strawberry in the past.
Barley Swine, 6555 Burnet Road, #400
We often choose cocktails based upon the flavor preferences we’re feeling in the moment, and at the Bryce Gilmore-helmed restaurant in North Austin, that’s no different when it comes to the trio of zero-proof mixtures, either. The Floral, Light & Refreshing combines rosehips and ginger lime, while the Herbaceous & Tart pulls together tarragon, lemongrass, shiso and lemon.
Cannon + Belle, 204 E. Fourth St.
Head to the restaurant in the Hilton Austin for a couple of zero-proof cocktails that are available this month only, in celebration of Dry January’s health-minded mission. The guy behind social media’s @apartment_bartender, Elliott Clark, created Paloma Undercover (Seedlip Spice 94, grapefruit, lime, brown sugar simple and soda water) as well as the Tamed Tiki (coconut water, lime, orange, maple syrup and ginger beer).
Easy Tiger, 709 E. Sixth St. and 6406 N. Interstate 35
The beer garden recently added a trio of nonalcoholic drinks to its roster — including a beer. Now, besides the Brooklyn Brewery Special Effects Non-Alcoholic Hoppy Brew, you can order the Strawberry Resolution (strawberry syrup, lime and Rambler Sparkling Water) and the Ginger Pear Fizz (pear syrup, lemon and Maine Root Ginger Beer).
Garage Bar, 503 Colorado St.
Two of this tucked-away bar’s key operators — owner William Ball and operations manager Philip Speer — are sober, after struggling with alcohol dependency, so Garage has an "unleaded" section of drinks that is only growing in size. (The sections of the cocktail menu here are all titled with car-related terms, such as "custom" and "refurbished.")
Holy Roller, 509 Rio Grande St.
Don’t feel like a mimosa with brunch at this edgy, breakfast-loving diner? Well, you can still have something fun and fizzy thanks to Holy Roller’s small mocktail menu. On it are nicely nuanced picks such as the Coachella (blueberry, orgeat almond, lemon and Rambler Sparkling Water) that won’t have you missing the alcohol at all.
Provision, 4200 West Braker Lane, Suite B
Taking over the cavernous space where a Red’s Porch used to be, the few-months-old Provision divides its cocktail menu into no-alcohol, low-alcohol and boozy drinks so you can order depending upon the kind of night you want to have. Here, the three sans-booze options are just as tasty as, say, a tequila-based Sazerac, but the clear winner is the Lavender Bee’s Knees (Sunup CBD, lavender honey simple, lemon and egg white). No gin is needed in this twist on a classic.
Punch Bowl Social, 11310 Domain Drive and 522 Congress Ave.
Both Austin locations (including the newest one downtown) have an impressive menu of zero-proof options, which besides mixed drinks include house-made sodas, fizzes and shakes. There are two standouts. The Florist’s Tonic (Seedlip Garden 108, lavender syrup, lemon and Q Mixers Elderfower tonic) is delicately floral. For those who want more of a kick, go with the Cilantro Fizz (fresh cilantro, jalapeño cucumber syrup, lime and aquafaba).
The Roosevelt Room, 307 W. Fifth St.
This downtown cocktail bar has some of the best drinks in town, so you can bet the spirit-free offerings are just as top-notch. They include the N’Artini, which might be the most complex cocktail without booze you’ll ever find. Count ’em, all 12 ingredients: Seedlip Spice, juniper tea, clarified Asian pear juice, pine needles, rosemary, cucumber, winter spices, verjus, glycerin, orange and lemon peel, lemon oils and Castelvetrano olives.
Yard Bar, 6700 Burnet Rd.
One of the dog-friendliest bars in town offers plenty of things that will keep owners happy, too. Among them is a selection of mocktails that rotates with the seasons, such as the Jaaaalapeño Business with Big Swig Sparkling Water’s Pineapple Jalapeño flavor, strawberry, lime and Yard Bar’s signature salt rim.