Sober Up

More and More Bars Are Mixing Creative Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

It’s part of what some call a nationwide “sober curious” trend.

By Cooper Levey-Baker October 1, 2019 Published in the October 2019 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Jack Dusty's "Ginger Love"

The days of nondrinkers stuck sipping Shirley Temples or virgin daiquiris while hanging out at the bar with friends are over. More and more of Sarasota’s best drinking destinations now offer creative spirit-free spins on classic cocktails.

It’s part of what some call a nationwide “sober curious” trend. Americans still like to drink, but many are consciously cutting back on their consumption. According to recent surveys, 55 percent of American adults regularly drink alcohol (unchanged from previous years), but four in 10 people over the age of 21 said they drink less now than five years ago.

At Jack Dusty inside The Ritz-Carlton, bartender Vince Diorides says the number of people ordering from the bar’s “no-no’s” menu hasn’t spiked in recent years, but that it’s common to fill a nonalcoholic order or two when large groups come in.

It helps that the bar’s teetotaler options have been designed just as carefully as their booze-heavy siblings; they still look and taste special. The “Blood Moon” ($12) combines blood orange juice, coconut cream and soda water with a house-made pistachio orgeat (a thick, sweet, nutty syrup), while the Ginger Love($11) is made with ginger beer, lime juice, mint, cucumber and a pinch of whole pink peppercorns. The first tastes like a liquid creamsicle, while the latter mimics a spicy mojito.

Other bars offering creative booze-free drinks include Lila, which uses distilled alcohol-free products from the British company Seedlip, and Social Eatery & Bar. Hopefully, you’ll never be trapped with a Diet Coke and a lemon wedge again. 

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