Saturday, 11 January 2020

5 booze-free bars for the sober curious

Autumn in New York — a drink made out of apple, drinking vinegar, mint, turmeric, cardamom, lemon, aquafaba and black bitters

1. Getaway bar (NYC)

At this hip Greenpoint joint, you don’t need to be health conscious or booze-opposed to enjoy its zero-ABV (alcohol by volume) libations. With a menu of nine elaborate concoctions, unusual and locally-sourced ingredients such as tobacco syrup, lingonberry and jalapeno puree are added to mix and shake drinks (US$13) even the most hardcore boozer would appreciate. For simpler (and cheaper) tastes, there are bottled sodas, shrub infusions, and slow-steeped drinks like the Dona Tumeric Honeybush for your sipping pleasure. But, really, where else are you going to come across a refreshment like Daters Gonna Date (US$13), made with Coco Rico soda and combined with Medjool dates, peanut butter and banana syrup?

Drink to try: If you enjoy complex flavours, Lone Wolf and Shrub (US$13) pairs elderflower syrup with a house-crafted rhubarb shrub syrup, lime juice and just the tiniest hint of basil.

2. Existing Conditions (NYC)

For the jaded cocktail drinker, a proper sit-down at Existing Conditions will revive the love for a well thought through, alcohol-fee tipple. With an elevated menu of libations tantalisingly segmented into categories such as carbonated, stirred rock and nitro-muddled, it’ll be tempting to fall off the bandwagon here, but steady on. The zero-proof drinks are a labour of love for Dave Arnold and Don Lee, who make use of avant-garde methods and obscure ingredients. Serendipity (US$16), a booze-free version of an Old Fashioned, contains a clarified tomato and passionfruit base. Other unusual concoctions include Stingless with honey from the rare stingless Melipona bee in Mexico – and possibly one of the most expensive raw ingredients to be used in any drink.

Drink to try: Spruce Mousse (US$16), made with clarified grapefruit, citrus-tinged spruce tea and Champagne acid, will impart a celebratory feel without the morning-after hangover.

Redemption’s apple mojito. Photo credit: Jessica Allegretti

3. Redemption Bar (London)

In a city famous for its boozing, it says lots when an alcohol-free eatery-cum-bar has not one, but three locations (Notting Hill, Shoreditch and Covent Garden). While it’s the vegan and sugar-free food that’ll likely lure you into this temple of sobriety and clean eating, the colourful, guilt-free mocktails shouldn’t be overlooked. Expect spirit-free versions of bar standards such as tequila-less frozen pineapple margarita and more daring concoctions like Black Magic (£7.50) where Borrago (a new and exciting botanical non-alcohol spirit) is shaken with activated charcoal, lemon, egg substitute aquafaba, vanilla and maple. For the not-so-adventurous, Crantini (£6.95) is a PG-13 mocktail made with birch syrup, cranberry, orange, lemon, and coconut water.

Drink to try: Aptly named, the Pious Pina Colada (£5.95) with coconut yogurt is a clear winner because who doesn’t like having a pina colada and getting caught in the rain – this is London after all!

4. PS 40 (Sydney)

When a bar markets itself on its house-crafted sodas –the bottling is done on-site at its King Street premises – you know you’re in good hands for a booze-free drinkie. Pushing out five different sodas – wattle cola, smoked lemonade, blackstrap ginger, bush tonic and a seasonal flavour at A$5 each  – you can sample them degustation-style (A$15) or have one of the non-alcoholic concoctions (A$16) where everything from tomato beer to rectified pumpkin toffee apple is employed to deliver a multi-layered mocktail.

Drink to try: We’re big fans of Burning Man (A$16). Made with Seedlip Garden (a non-alcoholic spirit bursting with clean, fresh herbal flavours), burnt honey and rosemary smoked pea flower, it gets our vote for a fresh, floral flavour balanced by herbal base notes.

Kava Bar serves cocktails with unique herbal accents

5. Kava Bar (San Francisco)

Taking the tiki trend further is this new addition to the Divisadero and McAllister area. Here, kava – a mood-altering beverage from piper methysticum, a plant native to the South Pacific – is used to make non-alcoholic cocktails. You can have it traditional style (from US$6), slow-brewed and served in a coconut shell, or more elaborately shaken with coconut milk and fresh tropical juices in 7th Heaven (from US$6).

Drink to try: Since kava is said to promote feelings of well-being, Love Potion (US$10) with its heady mix of kava, yerba mate,  kratom (a herbal extract said to be a stimulant) is a must-try. It’s blended with lemon and honey and then served chilled to even out any herbaceous or astringent flavours.

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SEE ALSO: 6 natural wine bars around the globe

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