Alcohol consumption has remained flat or declined in the past few years. So where are all those people going to hang out when they’re not drinking?
Enter the “sober bar,” with all the accouterments of a traditional watering hole, but without the booze. They welcome everyone who wants to go out but doesn’t want to drink.
It’s a “powerful trend,” “Bar Rescue” host Jon Taffer told FOX Business’ David Asman in July.
“Bars are all about social interaction, that’s what really makes bars work,” he said. “Millennials’ alcohol consumption is going down.”
People drank 1.6 percent less alcohol in 2018. Underage drinking has declined even more significantly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1980, 72 percent of high school seniors said they drank alcohol in the prior 30 days, and more than 40 percent said they had binge drank. By 2016, less than a third of high school seniors said they’d drank in the prior 30 days and less than 16 percent said they binge drank.
While traditional bars might have served a designated driver a Diet Coke — sometimes for free — the new wave of sober bars is innovating in what they offer, creating unique non-alcoholic cocktails that aren’t just “virgin” versions of traditional drinks.
“They’re mixed, shaken fruit drinks and they’re specialty cocktails,” Taffer said. “They’re things that you can’t get anyplace else, but you’re still having a social experience.”
At Mixtape in Pittsburgh, the menu includes “mocktails” with names like “pineapple in the rain” and “Thai basil lemonade.”
Mixtape co-owner Katie Molchan recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that it was important to the owners that they create a socially inclusive space.
“I think it’s for people who focus a little bit more on their health and well-being and have the desire to be social and drink, but not get plastered on a Tuesday,” she told the newspaper.
Even craft brewers have been targeting the sober crowd. Brooklyn Brewery recently announced that it was launching its first non-alcoholic beer — a hoppy lager-style brew.
“It's not just for people who are sober, pregnant, or driving, but rather it’s for people who want to do more with their lives while still enjoying a fun and flavorful beverage,” Robin Ottaway, Brooklyn Brewery president, said in a statement.
FOX Business’ Hayley Rieman and Jeanette Settembre contributed to this report.