Since some of the bars we mentioned in our previous NYC’s non-alc bars guide are impossible to book now, we take it you followed our directions. As we’re on a mission to speed up the sober curious Enlightenment, and we’re currently right at the equator of Dry January, we’d like to share with you some of our favorite spots in New York, where you can order non-alcoholic cocktails, or simply mocktails, without getting any weird looks as a compliment of the chef. Below, we’ll selflessly provide the second batch of hidden sober gems.
East Village / $$
Although dive bars are not particularly a go-to place for those looking to skip alcohol, to every rule, there’s an exception. The first sober dive bar in the East Village and in Manhattan, Hekate is a nice alternative to the dive scene as Lucy’s and Niagara which are probably best to skip unless you want to skip the next day suffering from a hellish hangover.
The concoctions you can you sip instead of endless rounds of Gin&Tonics are many, some of our favorites are the Healer made with Apothekary’s Blue Me Away, Lemonade, Seltzer & Lavender Simple Syrup and the Earthbound, which is mixed with Curious Elixir #2, Beet Juice & Seltzer.
On top of that, if you’re a fan of tarot but tend to forget which planet is responsible for your misfortunes due to the cocktails you downed throughout the reading, then definitely stop by for a sobering revelation. You can shop for magical merchandise such as specialty teas, tinctures, bitters, and candles — all the little things to consolidate your sober rituals and cast a potent detox spell.
Carroll Gardens / $$
Part neighborhood institution, part destination cocktail bar, Clover Club aims to make comfortingly familiar classic cocktails taste excitingly new, and spoiler — they achieved their goal. Named after a select group of Philadelphia journalists who met once a month at the Bellevue Hotel to drink, eat, and chat in the 19th century, Clover Club guys made a genius move when they chose the equally sophisticated AMASS spirit as the base for their mocktails. Featuring 14 botanicals, AMASS Riverine is a symphony of careful details, which creates truly unique flavor profiles for artisanal non-alcoholic cocktails that you will not try anywhere else. Their low-to-no-proof section offers you to pick from the Rings of Saturn cocktail — mixed with AMASS Riverine, Latitude 29 Orgeat, passionfruit, lemon, lime, cinnamon syrup — and the Smith Street Sling one — a cocktail made with AMASS Riverine, lime, pineapple, cherry syrup, and soda.
“Who enters here, leaves care behind, leaves sorrow behind, leaves petty envies and jealousies behind,” — so went the motto of the original Clover Club. We double that — now it’s your turn to check it out.
UES / $$$$
The older folks are furrowing their brows — the historical Bemelmans bar is now swamped with Gen Z’s, thanks to TikTok. The iconic spot inside the Carlyle Hotel, where wealthy Upper East Siders come to listen to live jazz and piano music, now offers virgin cocktails and some of the best non-alc sparkling wines out there, for instance, French Bloom. You can always order from us though, as you’ll get a full bottle for the price you’ll pay for a glass at Bemelmans, but we don’t have live musicians jamming all night long. At least, not yet.
For cocktails, you’ll have Earl’s Adagio made with Seedlip Spice 94, orange juice, honey, and fresh sage; Pepito ‘The Bad Hat’ made with Ritual tequila alternative, lime juice, orange syrup, London Essence club soda; and Loston’s II with Ghia apéritif, London Essence ginger beer, grated lime zest, and pickled rhubarb infused with star anise.
FYI, on top of the pricey drinks, they charge a cover fee for live entertainment, but let’s just think of this as paying homage to the regulars for being friendly and letting us in. Cause it always hurts when someone steals your secret go-to den.
NoMad, SoHo, Williamsburg / $$
At PLANTA — chef David Lee's outstanding venture in upscale plant-based dining — there’s plenty of botanical-based non-alcoholic cocktails, as founders believe in the power of plants to change the world. In everything they do, they seek to understand, experiment with, and maximize the power of nature to nourish, inspire, and sustain.
With locations in Nomad, SoHo, and Williamsburg, PLANTA is the true oasis, where you can replenish your body and calm your mind. The ‘free spirits’ offers your choice of Matcha Mojito, Cucumber Mule or Been There Thai’d That mocktails mixed with Seedlip Garden 108, Seedlip Grove 42, or Seedlip Spice 94 respectively.
There’s also a non-alc IPA by Athletic Brewing, if that’s more up your street, but whatever you pick, one thing is the same: every PLANTA experience is a step toward a healthier future.
Chelsea / $$$
The speakeasy that changed NYC's barscape in 2009, The Raines Law Room is still there, in Chelsea, owing its longevity to the consistent quality of their drinks. Named for an 1896 law meant to curb New Yorkers’ liquor consumption, this bar became a self-fulfilling prophecy: these days, they’re indeed curbing liquor consumption, only not through strict regulations, but quite the opposite — by giving an alternative and serving non-alc drinks. As physical menus seem to be obsolete now, scroll down to the Zero Proof page, where you can pick from Vespa Race, Orchard Crush, and Hiatus mocktails — all zero proof, but high on flavor. They chose to omit the exact brands that they’re using for these, but that’s part of the game: for places like this to survive, one should accept the rules, be it or the lack of a sign making you wonder whether or not you’ll find the entrance this time or ambiguity when it comes to ingredients. We’ll let them keep their secrets, if they wish so, because we know: they always craft amazing cocktails, so rest assured — you won’t be disappointed.