Ring in the Sober New Year…at a Bar?

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With January 1 rapidly approaching, it’s time to start planning how you’ll usher in 2015. This is an especially tricky time for those in recovery, as the New Year’s Eve holiday is traditionally associated with free-flowing alcohol poured long after midnight and multiple toasts to achievements that are yet to come.

Luckily, things are changing.

Rise of the Dry Bars

Trendy new establishments known as “dry bars” are popping up in cities throughout the United States, offering patrons a completely different kind of nightlife. These specialized watering holes offer everything you’d expect from a night club, bar or tavern. The difference, however, is that dry bars are completely barren of booze.

The drinks, affectionately known as “mocktails,” look and taste wonderful; you’ll find the same fresh mint garnishes and salt-rimmed glasses that have become staples of traditional bars. All the fun sans the alcohol? That’s perfect for a sober New Year’s celebration!

So, if you’re clean, sober and ready to make 2015 the best year it can possibly be, here’s a look at five up-and-running dry bars where you can party well into the night…and avoid waking up the next day with a hangover.

The Other Side

Chicago is home to a unique dry bar known as The Other Side. Chris Reed, a construction company owner, opened the sober establishment in suburban Crystal Lake during April 2013. The dry bar offers up several kinds of entertainment, with an event calendar that changes on a weekly basis.

Reed, 23, knows a thing or two about recovery; he overcame a severe heroin addiction over four years ago. However, he was quickly disappointed to find there weren’t many “safe” places to socialize. He felt like all the local bars and clubs posed serious threats to his sobriety.

If you’re choosing a sober lifestyle, this will be a healthy atmosphere. It’s an important place for people in recovery.-Chris Reed

Reed says it was important to make The Other Side look and feel like a bar – despite serving nothing stronger than energy drinks. The place has pool tables, a stage, several flat-screen TVs and a high-quality sound system. There are also several lounge areas used for casual gatherings on the weekends.

“If you’re choosing a sober lifestyle, this will be a healthy atmosphere. It’s an important place for people in recovery,” Reed told ABC Chicago.

Brillig Dry Bar

Nic Sims wasn’t sure whether or not a dry bar would be embraced by the community of Ann Arbor, Michigan. She forged ahead anyway, whole-heartedly believing that sober locals needed a safe and healthy place to socialize. Turns out she was right.

Sims launched the alcohol-free bar pop-up bar, Brillig Dry Bar, a concept she borrowed from England. On opening night, the line to get in the bar wrapped all the way around the building. The response to Brilling has been phenomenal.

“It’s an alcohol-free place for conversation and connection,” explained Sims. “I haven’t had a drink in 20 years, and I know a lot of people who don’t drink. I love to go out on a weekend, but not in a bar. I wanted a bar-like convivial atmosphere, with snacks and drinks and conversation, without it being a bar.”

The bar offers a variety of non-alcoholic cocktails like egg creams, a pomegranate-rosemary soda, wassail, a Vernors cranberry sour, pumpkin chiller and special coffee drinks.

“We have a big enough population and a broad enough reach that we could run it at least twice a month,” she said. “It was great,” Sims said. “I mean the response, not just in person but online, too, has been far beyond anything I ever anticipated.”

MeloMelo Kava Bar

Nightlife in San Francisco is primed for a sobriety-centered social explosion. With more and more people in the Bay Area committing to lives that are free from alcohol and drugs, dry bars are in demand. One of the newest is the MeloMelo Kava Bar.

With more and more people in the Bay Area committing to lives that are free from alcohol and drugs, dry bars are in demand.Owner Nicholas Rivard said that the MeloMelo “aims to be Berkeley’s first and only alcohol-alternative bar.” Instead of intoxicating spirits, the bar’s menu will rely on Kava, which is a traditional ceremonial drink native to the Pacific Islands. Interestingly enough, kava has been reported to have a “social butterfly” effect similar to alcohol, according to a study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Tea, yerba mate and kombucha will also be on the menu at MeloMelo, but the bar will not serve food or “coffee bean-related” products.

Club 3 Degrees

Thanks to the easy access of drugs and alcohol, parents are often uncomfortable letting children (under the age of 21) go to dance clubs. With more attention being placed on sobriety these days, however, it’s a lot easier to find dance clubs that are alcohol-free.

A good example of a modern dry bar nightclub would be Club 3 Degrees in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Club 3 Degrees is part of a local church effort that strives to provide an environment that’s free of alcohol, drugs and smoke. The club is also unique in that it allows people of all ages…at least until 11p.m. After that point, the club is exclusively for patrons ages 18 and up.

Club 3 Degrees has live music every night the club is open, plenty of pool tables, dart boards and much more. They’re also planning a huge New Year’s Eve bash to welcome 2015 in sober style.

Sober Nightlife

Sober Nightlife is more than just a single club or one singular event. The company represents a movement to bring the recovery community together via dance and therapeutic light shows.

By teaming up with lounges, coffee shops and nightclubs around the nation, Sober Nightlife is able to produce huge dance events that are free of alcohol and drugs. Naturally, dry bars are offered at each and every event hosted by Sober Nightlife.

The company recently partnered with a cutting-edge technology industry to create what’s called “Healing and Sound Technologies.” Together, they’re able to produce “an innovative system of atmospheric stimulation and Energy enhanced sounds & visuals at each party, everyone leaves having an amazing, unique experience.” It’s essentially a party geared to wake the senses and rev your brain…using nothing more than technologically enhanced sounds blended into the house music.

Sober Nightlife Has launched parties in Miami, Los Angeles, New York City and Ohio.

Learn more about recovery from alcohol abuse and addiction.

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