We’re calling it: the sober curious movement is here to stay, thanks to the post-pandemic rise of a cleaner living mentality and game-changing non-alcoholic spirits, wine and beer. In fact, alcohol sales were down 1 percent last year, while non-alcoholic beverage sales grew by 116 percent, according to a NielsenIQ study. Gone are the days when zero-alcohol options were limited to juice and soda. Instead, more and more mocktail menus are on par with their boozy counterparts, and today’s NA drink lists have the same level of variety, complexity and creativity as the city’s best cocktail menus. So, whether you’re abstaining for good or just looking to cut back this month, there are a lot of sophisticated choices for anyone who’s not drinking. Here are 12 SF spots—from a Michelin-starred restaurant to the city’s first zero-alcohol bottle shop—with seriously impressive non-alcoholic drink games.
12 Excellent Spots for Non-Alcoholic Drinks in San Francisco
Bars & Restaurants with Impressive Non-alcoholic Drink Lists
Add these spots to your rotation anytime you’re in the mood for a drink, minus the alcohol. Ocean Beach Cafe is perfect if you want to go all-in on the NA vibe. This 100 percent alcohol-free cafe, bar, bottle shop and event space has an entire menu of creatively crafted NA cocktails, including a version of the French 75 (Pentire Adrift, Rib0 sparkling muscat, lemon) and popular spritz (Wilderton aperitivo, Pavé bubbles, citrus).
Russian Hill craft cocktail destination Bar Iris is known for its next-level menu featuring globally inspired ingredients like calamansi, pandan and yuzu. It also has a strong NA game, offering most of its drinks with or without alcohol. The herbaceous Spruced Up—with burnt rosemary, bay laurel and foraged spruce-tip tea cordial—is the only NA drink listed on the menu at Divisadero cocktail hotspot Horsefeather, but the bartenders are always happy to mix you up a custom NA concoction. Over at Mission mainstay, Laszlo, you’ll often find zero-proof cocktail collaborations with fellow neighborhood bartenders as well as Laszlo’s own creations, including Closer to the Sun, a citrus-spice combo with a little heat from Aleppo chile. Across the bridge in Uptown Oakland, Bar Shiru, the swanky Tokyo-inspired cocktail den and hi-fi vinyl listening bar, proves its cocktail prowess with NA drinks as interesting as the rest of the menu. The Cheetah is a classy, earl grey-infused spin on a classic Old Fashioned, and the Bright Side (Seedlip garden 108, cucumber shrub, lemon, mint gomme, club soda) is a refreshing Tom Collins-meets-spa-water elixir.
At Nari (Hotel Kabuki’s restaurant from the Michelin-starred Kin Khao team), the edited zero-proof cocktail list is as impressive as the inventive Thai dishes. Transport yourself to the tropics with the Mayura, a sweet-tart blend of Lyre’s spiced cane, passion fruit, pineapple, aperitivo and lime. See and be seen at Copra, the popular new restaurant on Fillmore serving up Indian eats, IG-worthy decor and equally sophisticated NA cocktails, including the vibrant and refreshing Orange Ruby with lemongrass and makrut lime leaf. Order the Italian-inspired Chinnotto Cooler at Zuni Cafe, along with the classic roast chicken, for a taste of old-fashioned cola with a citrusy twist from charred grapefruit tonic, grapefruit bitters and lime. Head to Cole Valley newcomer Cole Valley Tavern for Cali comfort food (hello, French onion grilled cheese) and crafty zero-alcohol cocktails like the juicy-with-a-kick Grapefruit Serrano and the Ginger Bear with…wait for it…a gummy bear garnish.
Spirit-free Beverage Pairings
The spirit-free trend is so popular that even fine dining is getting in on the NA game. Michelin-starred Sons & Daughters recently introduced non-alcoholic drink pairings after noticing that few tasting-menu restaurants offered such an option. “Our new non-alcoholic pairing menu elevates the beverage program and correlates with the Scandinavian culture of clean living,” says executive chef Harrison Cheney. The drinks also focus on sustainability and reducing the restaurant’s environmental footprint by working directly with local farmers and using every part of each product to minimize food waste. “This gives us the opportunity to reflect our culinary philosophy in our beverage program,” he says. Take the Smoked Huckleberry and Beetroot—which has a similar look and mouthfeel to red wine and is paired with smoked and roasted Corvus Ranch duck and fava greens—and the Muri ‘Passing Clouds’ pet nat of gooseberries and jasmine tea paired with Caviar d’Aquitaine Perlita, leeks and buttermilk.
Kiln, which opened in Hayes Valley in May by two Sons & Daughters alumni, is centered on a technique-driven menu with a focus on simplicity and purity of flavor. Beverage director Vincent Balao wanted to design a pairing menu that really complemented the food in unexpected ways, including broadening people’s views of what can be done without alcohol. Kiln’s zero-ABV drink pairing menu includes standouts like the Why Yuzu Sour? (yuzu, genmaicha, kombu), Smoke & Mirrors (lapsang suchong, hibiscus, cherry, bitters) and Verde Side (Seedlip Garden 108, cucumber, lime). “The spirit-free pairing at Kiln is designed to complement your experience of the tasting menu,” says Balao. “Taking inspiration from classic cocktails, our spirit-free creations incorporate teas, herbs, syrups, juices and non-alcoholic distillates to compose unique and thoughtful beverages.”
The Zero ABV Bottle Shop
Looking for the NA experience at home? Stock your bar and mix up your own next-level mocktails with booze-free options from Boisson, San Francisco’s first bottle shop dedicated to nonalcoholic spirits, wine and beer. The shop—which also has outposts in NY and LA—wants to be your one-stop-shop for everything from gilded barware and “cocktail” kits to hard-to-find alcohol-free bitters. Weekly in-store tastings let the sober curious see for themselves just how much NA products can taste like the real deal. (We’re loving Katy Perry’s De Soi brand “Golden Hour” aperitif and Caleño’s “Light & Zesty” tropical spirit.) Try out a bunch, bring home your favorites and then DIY your next dinner party with some of Boisson’s make-at-home recipes.