This is an exciting time to be sober or sober-curious and it's easier than ever to find delicious alcohol-free fare in beverage superstores, specialty bottle shops, grocery stores, and online. But, if your town is like mine, it's not so easy to find more than one or two alcohol-free beer brands on the menu at a bar or restaurant. So what's an AF fan to do?
Here are some ideas... and I encourage you to try them out!
1. Name it to claim it! Many bar and restaurant managers think that because guests don’t specifically ask for alcohol-free options they don’t want them — however, you and I know this is definitely not the case. If AF options are missing from a menu, a large amount of folks prefer not to speak up. I get it. It can be embarrassing to ask for a zero-proof cocktail and then receive a “deer in a headlights” look from a server. But I promise you, the more we ASK for sophisticated zero-proof fare, the more a bar or restaurant will believe their guests want it.
2. Don't be afraid to 'veto.' When choosing where to go with a group of friends, be bold enough to purposely select an establishment that has at least a few alcohol-free options on the menu. This will encourage that bar or restaurant to keep up the good work, and might start sending a message to places that fail to cater to the growing number of their non-drinking guests.
3. Take your AF bevvies with you. I've had solid success bringing a bottle of alcohol-free spirits or wine to restaurants and bars. Bartenders love the challenge of whipping up a cocktail with a zero-proof spirit -- and many don't even know they exist! This creates a much more sophisticated flavor profile and fuller body than simply soda- or juice-based AF cocktails (NOTE: "mock"-tails, begone!). And not sure about you, but I'm more than happy to pay a corkage fee to have a chilled bottle of zero-proof wine in a beautiful glass poured by my server. And I often ask them to take a taste, which opens up a productive, encouraging conversation (see #1 above).
4. Be on the lookout for pop-up events! Posh bottle shops like Boisson (Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Studio City, and several NYC locations) and The New Bar in Venice often host tastings of delicious AF bevvies. Also, local independent pop-up venues, such as Clarity Lounge (yours truly!), ZeroProofed, and more are constantly mixing up spirited merriment without the spirits, so be sure to follow them and join the fun!
The bottom line: If you love to drink (but just not alcohol) and prefer something sophisticated to the typical water, soda, or iced tea options at bars and restaurants, then hopefully these small actions will create ripples -- and then waves! -- to turn the tide in our favor. Let's do this, my friends!