All the social fun with none of the headaches and hangovers.
For many in the social scene, the Colorado culture includes alcohol and a lot of it. From workplaces that have in-house Friday happy hours or Saturday softball leagues to brewery hopping or a night out downtown, we, collectively, are no stranger to the sauce.
And there's nothing wrong with that. But if you are among the growing number of people who are cutting back, deciding to abstain altogether, or simply don't like alcohol, it can be hard to balance an alcohol-free choice with the desire to enjoy the social scene. Worse is the pressure to "just have one" and the stigma that is not uncommon if you are the perennial teetotaler at the party.
Thanks to what is being called the "sober-curious" trend, there are more options than ever to enjoy a good drink in a social atmosphere yet still wake up sans-hangover in the morning. Far from the days where you MIGHT find the obligatory O'Douls or a sugary mess of a non-alcohol piña colada somewhere on a drink menu, several Denver-area bars, eateries, and social establishments are stepping up their zero-proof drink game with some truly legendary concoctions that take the center stage over boozy beverages.
Check out our list of zero-proof-friendly places, grab your friends (drinkers and non-drinkers alike), and have a fun time out for all!
One of the newest bars with a menu full of both non-alcoholic drinks and alcohol-inclusive beverages. With a focus on a full sensory experience of health, connection, and rejuvenation, the menu includes Potions like Dream Serum, an overnight infusion of peppermint, chamomile, lavender honey crystals, and much more. You can try a zero-proof Love 'Lixir, Slow Rider, and other tasty options that are perfect for drinkers and non-drinkers alike.
This popular place to get your fun on, Punch Bowl Social also has a wide variety of alcohol-free cocktails to keep everyone in the group happy. From the Cilantro Fizz (fresh cilantro, jalapeno and cucumber syrup, fresh lime juice, and aquafaba) to The Florist's Tonic (Seedlip Garden 108 Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirit, lavender syrup, fresh lemon juice, and Q Mixers Elderflower Tonic), the non-alcoholic options are full of flavor. There is also a wide selection of juices, shakes, sodas, fizzes, and more. Check out the non-alcoholic offerings here.
The Florist's Tonic courtesy of Punch Bowl Social (Instagram).
This bar and eatery in RiNo’s The Source food hall offers three different drink menus: Booze-Free, Low Booze, and High Booze. For non-drinkers, the Rehydrator, which includes aloe, cranberry, honey, lime, and grenadine, is just one of several tasty options. Or, try an Acorn Ginger Beer for a refreshing thirst-quencher.
The Kitchen (16th St. Mall)/Next Door American Eatery (Union Station and a wide variety of Colorado locations)
Owned by the same company, both of these restaurants offer a limited zero-proof cocktail menu with some delicious choices, such as a cucumber-lime tonic (the BFF at The Kitchen) or a lime rickey at Next Door.
This RiNo bar specializes in small plates and some amazing drinks of the non-alcohol and alcohol variety. It is a perfect place to catch up with friends and enjoy the atmosphere while sipping on an old-fashioned mock toddy or a Feelin' Spritzy, made of grapefruit juice, thyme, lemon, and sparkling water. These are the only two zero-proof options currently on the menu, but be sure to ask your bartender what the seasonal specials are when you visit. January is #MocktailMonth at Bar Helix, so you can choose from about a half-dozen drinks while they last, or even take a mocktail masterclass at the venue.
Others to come?
Keep your eye out for Bar Zero, a catering service that hopes to open a full restaurant and dry bar in the future (its Facebook page currently says it's coming soon) to provide a supportive social atmosphere for those living a sober lifestyle. It has already hosted some successful events like a sober New Year celebration, which sold out.
Are there other places that offer specialty zero-proof drinks that you love to visit? Or maybe you have one favorite non-ABV drink you love and want to share the recipe? Let us know in the comments!