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The best sober bars in America for zero-proof cocktails

Whether it’s dry January or you’re a year-round teetotaler, enjoy a booze-free night out at America’s best sober bars

Andrew Hirschfeld
Written by
Andrew Hirschfeld

With New Year’s celebrations in the rear mirror, dry January is in the spotlight. The annual event encourages people to cut out alcohol for the month. Those taking part are joining a growing number of Americans putting the proverbial bottle down amid surging interest in the non-alcoholic beverage landscape.

So, it’s no surprise that there are hot, trendy, sober bars popping up around the country catering to this growing demographic. If you want to bond with colleagues after a day at the office, or if you’re like me and looking for that special someone—opting not to grab a drink is easier said than done. Fortunately, the country has quite a few options for zero-proof bars. Below, find the best sober bars in America for your next booze-free night out. 

Best sober bars in America

Hekate Café and Elixir Lounge | New York, NY
Photograph: Andy Hirschfeld for Time Out

1. Hekate Café and Elixir Lounge | New York, NY

Hekate in New York’s East Village is the city’s first all non-alcoholic bar. The intimate setting is great for catching up with old friends, date night, or—thanks to the non-alcoholic component—a baby shower, as we saw firsthand. The bar has quickly become a staple in the neighborhood—touted by a handful of regulars. Its sober-friendly atmosphere is also apparent through its staffing choices. Owner Abby Ehmann says she prefers to hire primarily sober bartenders. Hekate has several mocktails and adaptogen-based beverages (such as CBD-based ‘cocktails’). Its take on a French 75 is definitely worth a try.

2. Shirley's Temple | Signal Hill, CA

This now five-month-old non-alcoholic bar in southern California is quickly becoming an iconic option for a reason. It topped Yelp’s top 25 most-searched places to grab a mocktail, beating out restaurants and bars throughout the United States. During the day, it’s a cafe during the day and transforms into a bar in the evening. It has both adaptogen and mocktail offerings on its robust menu.

During dry January, Shirley’s Temple focuses on more health-conscious options like the Encumbered. Its base—to no surprise—is non-alcoholic cucumber gin. Shirley’s Temple is also quickly becoming an event space. It offers a weekly comedy night. Soon, a musical bingo night will be added on January 19th.


3. Sans Bar | Austin, TX

Only steps away from the State Capitol grounds, this downtown Austin haunt is one of the first zero-proof bars in the Lone Star state and the entire nation. Born originally as a pop-up in 2017, this place quickly moved to a brick-and-mortar operation. Owner Chris Marshall, who’s coming up on 17 years sober, opened Sans Bar as a sober-friendly gathering place with a high-class charm. It’s built for those who are entirely sober and those who want to drink less.

Marshall recommends the drink the Alright, Alright, Alright—named after Austin icon Matthew McConaughey’s catchphrase. Marshall says the drink includes “Undone alcohol-free rum, a house-made sweet potato simple syrup, coconut water, and All the Bitter Chocolate Mole Bitters.”

4. The Volstead | Philadelphia, PA

You’ll love this sober bar in the City of Brotherly Love. The combination of a vegan restaurant and a sober bar was designed with recovery in mind. Unity—an organization that supports those in recovery—runs The Volstead, making it a great place to connect in a bar setting without the temptation of alcohol. But boozy beverages may not even be top of mind with non-alcoholic versions of bar staples like an old fashioned and a hot toddy on the menu.


5. The Nixer | Phoenix, AZ

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Phoenix is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, so it’s no surprise that it also has a budding zero-proof scene. The Nixer is currently a pop-up that is opening across the city. Owner Kristine Abrams-Petersman says the company expects dry January to be a “record breaker” for them. Its menu is diverse. It has both functional and mocktail options. Abrams-Petersman recommends Sweet Heat. It uses Livener elixir by Three Spirit as the base; then they add strawberry and ginger. The Nixer also offers CBD and THC cocktails. The selection is only set to get bigger. It plans to roll out more “hemp-derived” beverages soon. “Dry January is simply alcohol-free, and many still consume cannabis (or are 'California-Sober'),” Abrams-Petersman tells Time Out.

Honey Elixir Bar | Denver, CO
Photograph: Kalli Wilkins/photosynthesiscreativestudio

6. Honey Elixir Bar | Denver, CO

This Denver non-alcoholic bar is making waves in the zero-proof bar scene. Opened by Jocasta Hanson, Honey Elixir focuses on well-being in a lively community atmosphere with a comfortable bar vibe while not being an alcoholic-centric environment. Hanson says she wanted a space more aligned with how she lives her life, “sometimes I want to drink and sometimes I don’t, I want to be able to have options, and I know I am not alone in that,” Hanson tells Time Out.

Hanson says one of the most popular menu options is The Love Spell, which uses “heart-supportive herbs and flowers.” Its cacao drink is also highly recommended. “It’s not something that a lot of people offer. It is ceremonial-grade drinking chocolate. It has an impact on the body and the mind,” Hanson adds. The bar also hosts several events, including music nights.


7. Dry Spokes | Omaha, NE

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This sober bar began making waves in the Omaha food and beverage scene only a couple of years ago. What started as a mobile and pop-up operation quickly turned into a brick-and-mortar operation. The bar offers stunning non-alcoholic versions of the staples including a margarita, old fashioned and even an Irish coffee. Additionally, Dry Spokes offers a number of private events, such as mocktail-making classes.

8. In Good Spirits | Chicago, IL

Nothing hits the spot quite like a hot toddy, especially in the blistering cold that the Chicago winters are infamous for. Fortunately, In Good Spirits is set to add it to its menu this month. Opened in July 2023 by co-founders Adriana Gaspar and Hector Diaz, this place offers a welcoming atmosphere for the sober and sober-curious. “Both of us had life-altering experiences that led up to the opening of the space,” Diaz tells Time Out.

For Gaspar, it was about continuing her late father's legacy, who was a pillar in the Chicago sober community. For Diaz, it was a fight with kidney cancer. “For me, it allowed me to really evaluate my habits,” Diaz says.

The two created a space that caters to people who’ve had experiences that led them to the sober lifestyle as well as those who want to give it a try. As for drinks, Diaz says one of their big focuses is on the bar staples, which he says is a good starting point for consumers trying it out.

In Good Spirits has a popular take on a margarita and an old fashioned. Go for the drinks and stay for the events. “We are working on non-alcoholic and mocktail workshops,” says Diaz, who's working with other organizations in the community looking to put on social events that don’t necessarily need to be centered around alcohol.

Ocean Beach Cafe | San Francisco, CA
Photograph: Joshua James

9. Ocean Beach Cafe | San Francisco, CA

The Ocean Beach Cafe is one of the leading non-alcoholic bars on the West Coast. Owner Joshua James opened the bar (slash sandwich and bottle shop) three years ago, making it the third of its kind in the United States. Its non-alcoholic cocktail selection is a nod to bar staples you might find in a more booze-focused environment, such as its rendition of a French 75. It will soon add an elixir called the Good Buzz Daisy, which, as the name suggests, has an adaptogen base. According to James, he only expects Ocean Beach Cafe’s impact to grow as half of its sales are non-alcoholic beverages.

ABV Bar | San Francisco, CA
Photograph: Ryan Fitzgerald

10. ABV Bar | San Francisco, CA

This San Francisco bar may not be primarily alcohol-free but has one of the biggest selections of non-alcoholic drinks in the Bay Area. That’s partly why San Francisco Magazine called it one of the top places for a mocktail in dry January.

With the increased demand in the non-alcoholic market, owner Ryan Fitzgerald tells us they’ve really doubled down on the space. “We’ve always been a bar that provides something for everyone and non-alcoholic cocktails have a place there,” Fitzgerald says. Its best-selling non-alcoholic beverage is called the Green Dream, which has “ tarragon syrup, saline, ginger, lemon juice and fever tree lemon tonic,” as key ingredients, according to Fitzgerald.

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