A temperance bar, also known as an alcohol-free bar, sober bar, or dry bar, is a type of bar that does not serve alcoholic beverages. An alcohol-free bar can be a business establishment or located in a non-business environment or event, such as at a wedding. Alcohol-free bars typically serve non-alcoholic beverages, such as non-alcoholic cocktails known as mocktails, alcohol-free beer or low-alcohol beer, alcohol-free wine, juice, soft drinks and water. Popular temperance drinks include cream soda, dandelion and burdock, sarsaparilla, and Vimto, among others. Various foods may also be served.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a number of temperance bars were established in conjunction with various temperance organisations. Originally, these advocated a moderate approach to life, especially concerning the consumption of alcohol. Later they moved toward abstinence from alcohol. Temperance bars with full temperance licenses (allowing them to serve on Sundays despite English trading laws) were once common in many high streets and shopping areas in the North of England. The temperance movement had a massive following, fueled mainly by nonconformist Christian denominations, such as Methodists.
In the past, the bars quite often asked their patrons to sign a pledge of temperance, meaning that they would abstain from intoxicating liquors; today's wave of alcohol-free bars are frequented by both teetotalers and drinkers who wish to have fun in a drink-free environment. The recent popularity of alcohol-free bars is fueled by the declining usage of alcohol amongst the millennial generation, as well as the increased availability of information regarding the negative effects of alcohol on health.
In 2015 the first alcohol-free bar in New Zealand, located in Auckland and named Tap Bar, went out of business five weeks after opening due to a lack of consumer interest, in which few patrons showed up. Patrons that did show up often only consumed water after paying the $15 cover charge for entry.
Some cities in the United Kingdom have alcohol-free bars and public houses. The popularity of alcohol-free bars has increased in the United Kingdom, and they are "often funded by anti-alcoholism charities."
Temperance bars were established in many places during the 19th century in support of the temperance movement; among the drinks they offered were dandelion and burdock and sarsaparilla. Fitzpatrick's in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, established in 1890, is described as one of the only remaining temperance bars that were built in the 19th century, which re-opened in March 2016 after a closure of two months.
An alcohol-free bar in England named "The Brink" opened in 2011 and is located in Liverpool. The Brink is also a drug-free bar, and is run by the charity Action on Addiction with support from the Big Lottery Fund. It also serves food and hosts various events such as live music and film showings.
An alcohol-free bar named Redemption is located at the base of the Trellick Tower in North Kensington, London, England. It originated as a pop-up restaurant, and opened as a permanent establishment in July 2015. Redemption also serves vegan food that is locally sourced, and its menu is based upon providing nutritional foods and beverages. Its owners have stated that it is a "sober and cruelty-free bar." Redemption also utilizes a zero waste policy. The Netil House is another alcohol-free bar located in London.
Sobar in Nottingham is an alcohol-free bar operated by a charity, Double Impact, which works with both alcohol and drug addiction. It received funding from the Big Lottery Fund and employs people who have been addicts.
Sans Bar is a permanent fixture serving hand-crafted zero-proof cocktails in Austin, Texas, with multiple pop-ups appearing across the US. Founder Chris Marshall saw the need for building alcohol-free community after his work as an alcohol treatment center counselor.
Listen Bar is an alcohol-free bar in New York open one night every month. Their events feature a fully alcohol-free menu of cocktails, beers and more, as well as activities such as dominatrix lessons, speed-dating or karaoke. All their bartenders are musicians, including special guests Savoir Adore and Sir Babygirl. They have risen to popularity following favorable reviews in Refinery29, VICE and features on the Today Show, Good Morning America and more. They are currently raising funds for a location that will be open every night.
Popular drinks served at temperance bars
Temperance bars serve a variety of non-alcoholic mixed drinks, including:
- Black beer and raisin
- Blood tonic
- Cream soda
- Dandelion and burdock
- Ginger beer
Notable temperance bars
Fitzpatrick's Herbal Health in Rawtenstall is one of the first and original temperance bars surviving from the late 1800s, when it was established. The Fitzpatricks came to Lancashire from Ireland in the 1880s. A family of many herbalists, they built a family-run chain of shops throughout Lancashire. These shops dealt in their non-alcoholic drinks, sold herbal remedies, and cordial bottles. At their peak, the Fitzpatrick family owned 24 shops, all brewing drinks to the original recipes from Ireland. As new drinks came from America, the temperance bars slowly waned. Fitzpatrick's, supported by loyal customers, survived. The Rawtenstall branch of Fitzpatrick's was run from 1891 until 1980 by family members. It is now run by new owners, with the objective of returning Fitzpatrick's Cordials to the market. Following a brief closure in early 2016, Fitzpatrick's reopened for business on 25 March 2016.
Fitzpatrick's is notable for its old copper hot water dispenser which was originally a fixture at the Astoria Ballroom in Rawtenstall. It has also won an award as the country's "Best Sarsaparilla Brewer", and an award for its dandelion and burdock, a year later.
Notes and references
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- Eby, Margaret (19 July 2019). "The rise of the sober bar". BBC. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
Alcohol-free bars aren’t a new concept. In the late 19th Century, a number of alcohol-free bars known as temperance bars were established in the UK on the heels of the temperance movement, which advocated abstinence. Fitzpatrick’s Temperance Bar, founded in 1890 in Rawtenstall, north of Manchester, is still slinging root beer and glasses of dandelion and burdock today. But what’s different about today’s wave of alcohol-free bars is that they aren’t necessarily rooted in the idea of total abstinence. At Getaway, for example, the audience isn’t just non-drinkers but anyone who wants a fun bar environment without the threat of a hangover the next day. “Nothing about our space says you should be sober, or you shouldn’t go around the corner to another bar and do a tequila shot after hanging out here,” Thonis said. “It’s not exclusively for the non-drinker.”
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