Where to go out for a drink when you’re not drinking (but everyone else might be).
Whether you are sober, a teetotaler, pregnant, cutting down or cutting out alcohol for health reasons, or just practicing ‘Dryanuary,’ you should still be able to head to the local bar with good company and enjoy a solid craft drink.
Thankfully, San Diego has been hip to the ‘mocktail’ trend for quite some time, and if a bar doesn’t have a dedicated ‘sans-alcohol’ menu, most are more than happy to accommodate and appease their dry clientele.
The seven bars that follow are a step above when it comes to creative, delicious, alcohol-free beverages, making them our go-to spots this month.
Kindred is arguably one of the hippest vegan restaurants in San Diego, offering a plant-based option of just about everything including their Deli Battle “charcuterie board” and an Artichoke Po’Boy. Their interior is filled with edgy dark decor, and great hospitality. They have a dedicated non-alcoholic “XXX Cocktails” list with delicious options.
Try it now: “Rainbow Dragon” Pineapple Turmeric Shrub, Pineapple Gomme, Orange, Lime, Cinnamon, Orgeat, and Sparkling Black Tea
Parks and Rec, University Heights
This is a great neighborhood bar that features craft cocktails, live music, indoor and outdoor games, and plenty of television screens to watch your favorite teams. They also host special events, and will soon be adding a silent disco and Latin night. Many of their drinks are influenced by local fruits and exotic flavors, and the bartenders can make a killer mocktail version of just about anything on the menu.
Try it now: “Blueberry Dreams” House-made Blueberry-Yuzu Syrup, Lime Juice, Honey, topped with club soda.
You & Yours Distilling Co., East Village
California's first urban distillery makes their spirits using sustainable, high quality ingredients and practices, and with the same care, almost anything on their menu can be made without spirits, with pretty mouthwatering results.
Try it now: “Sober Bunny” A spirit-free version of their popular “Little Bunny Foo Foo” featuring carrot, turmeric, ginger, lemon and Topo Chico.
Sycamore Den, Normal Heights
Another wonderful neighborhood cocktail lounge with retro cabin vibes, these guys serve everything from craft beers to classic and artisanal cocktails and wine. You will find a ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking’ section of their menu that directs you inquire about current options.
The bartenders can transform most of their signature cocktails and classes into alcohol free tipples made with Lyre’s non-alcoholic distilled spirits, which mimic the flavor profiles of common spirits and liquors.
Try it now: ‘Cafe Avelleneda” Tamarind syrup, Lyres Coffee Liquor, Fever-Tree Tonic, strained over fresh ice, as well as garnished with coffee beans and lemon peels.
Moniker Cocktail Co, Point Loma
Moniker General is renowned for being the hippest coffee shop in Liberty Station, so it came as no surprise when they transformed the space into a cocktail bar at night. Here just about any of their cocktails can be made into mocktails for dry customers.
Try it now: “Black Berry Mocktail” A variation of their most popular cocktail, “The Black jewel” made with house black berry cordial and topped with Topo Chico.
Polite Provisions, North Park
This perennial favorite apothecary-turned-modern-bar has killer customer service and stunning drinks. Aside from their soda fountain menu, anything you like can be made sans alcohol (even Tiki drinks!), but the best bet is to ask the bartenders to surprise you with something alcohol-free, seasonal and delicious.
Try it now: Tell the bartender what you like, that you don't want booze, and they'll whip you up something amazing (On my last visit I tried what I call “Purple Amethyst” made with seasonal purple yam orgeat, lemon, almond, vanilla, orange and cinnamon).
Herb & Sea, Encinitas
Located in Encinitas, this coastal community restaurant offers a simple, clean and bright menu that pairs east coast seafood with California cuisine. They have a fantastic set mocktail menu, much like their sister restaurant, Herb & Wood in Little Italy.
Try it now: “Brûlée & Black” Charred Lemon Iced Tea, Turmeric-Black Pepper Honey, Brûléed Lemon