New ‘Sober Bar’ Trend Allows People in Recovery to Be Social Without the Booze

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For adults in the U.S., social gatherings almost always involve some type of alcohol. From brunch to family dinners, booze is bound to be involved somehow, which can be alienating for those who abstain from alcohol. Meeting up with a group of friends usually entails going to a bar, so being social and being sober is a tough proposition.

But the new “sober bar” trend aims to change that.

Sober bars include all the makings of a regular bar, including the ambiance, music, and fancy drinks. They just don’t serve any alcohol.

Like Sans Bar in Austin, Texas.

Founder Chris Marshall has been sober since 2007. He was inspired to start the bar when he was working as a counselor, and a client confessed how hard it was to navigate the social scene without alcohol. The client later relapsed and passed away.

Sans Bar has been open since 2015. Not every customer is in recovery; some are sober for other reasons, or are simply “sober curious.” Binge drinking is common among American adults, but drinking every single day simply isn’t good for you. In fact, it’s terrible for you.

“If you closed your eyes on a Friday night, you’d think you were in a regular bar,” Chris told USA Today. “This is not about being sober forever. This is about being sober for the night.”

Other popular sober bars include The Other Side in Crystal Lake, Illinois and Getaway in Brooklyn, New York. Some bars, such as Pop’s Blue Moon in St. Louis, Kentucky, hold regular “sober nights” each week. There are also many sober pop-up events and parties nationwide.

Just because you don’t drink doesn’t mean you don’t want to go out at night and have fun — and sober bars finally make that feel normal.