Food and drink

The Rise of Booze-free Bars

On the 100th anniversary of Prohibition, Gemma Soames highlights bars that are voluntarily going booze free. They're healthy alternatives for Dry January – and all year long

One hundred years ago this month, bar-goers in the US woke up to alcohol-free establishments as the government introduced the unpopular National Prohibition Act. Today, however, watering holes are voluntarily kicking alcohol out and ushering in a range of healthy alternatives to cater to a growing crowd who seek good times – without the threat of a hangover. From kombucha cafés to bubble tea spots, here’s a selection of places where you can have a dry old time.

Soma Tea & Mocktail

Taipei

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It’s the drink craze that’s taken Asia by storm, but if you want to get to the juicy heart of the bubble tea phenomenon, you need to head to Taiwan, where shops on every corner serve up cups of distinctive, bouncy tapioca (or boba) balls in milky black tea. For a modern take, try Soma Tea & Mocktail; their drinks were named the best boba in Taiwan earlier this year and their first international outpost just landed in Artesia, California.

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Redemption Bar

London

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Billed as London’s healthiest restaurant, Redemption Bar is a buzzy, airy space in the heart of Covent Garden that looks every bit as lively as the eateries next door: only here they promise to help you ‘spoil yourself, without spoiling yourself’. Settle into velvet banquettes to enjoy a guilt-free menu that includes a zero per cent take on the classic martini, non-alcoholic prosecco and wine, booze-free beers, CBD lagers and botanical tonics. Vegan, sugar-free and wheat-free food dominates the menu, too. With sister spots in Notting Hill and Shoreditch, this joint has your sober London bar crawl sorted.

Getaway Bar

New York

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Head to the hip enclave of Greenpoint in Brooklyn to find Getaway, a hip space with all the hallmarks of a stylish cocktail spot – just without any of the alcohol. Opened by Sam Thonis and Regina Dellea last year, this is a strict zero per cent alcohol zone – not even fermented kombucha makes it through the door. A sophisticated marble bar counter is lined with bar stools and chrome cocktail shakers ready to mix up a list of inventive virgin cocktails. Whether you choose a Paper Train (lemon juice, tobacco syrup, vanilla and San Pellegrino Chinotto) or a Smallbluff (Seedlip Spice, lemon juice, fennel shrub and celery bitters), you’re guaranteed to leave clear-headed.

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Teapulse

Singapore

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Singapore’s first and only fermented tea bar, Teapulse is a bright and breezy café in the heart of the city dedicated to kombucha-based drinks intended to improve your gut health and overall wellbeing. The fact that they come in flavours like French Rose, Citrus Mint and Hibiscus Hawthorn is a bonus. Head there to choose your customised drink, picking your base (kombucha or fermented lemonade), flavour, sweetness and topping. You’ll also find smoothies and lattes – of the healthy variety, of course.

The Virgin Mary

Dublin

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Dublin may not spring to mind as the place to head for an boozeless night out, but the city’s first zero-alcohol bar aims to turn Irish drinking culture on its head. Located in an old furniture shop, The Virgin Mary has everything you’d expect from an Irish tavern: cosy atmosphere, leather-seated snugs, wooden-topped bar and friendly bartenders. The cocktail menu features all the old favourites with an innocent twist, from a spicy Virgin Mary to an alcohol-free G&T and even a Guinness substitute – chilled coffee poured from a stout tap to deliver that frothy top and velvety body. 

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