I’ve lived in Austin since the Fall of 2015 - it’s a vibrant city known for its funky, eclectic (and sometimes super weird) culture. The city has a little of something for everyone - especially when it comes to great restaurants and nightlife. As one of the nation's fastest growing cities, a host to two major festivals, and a frequent destination for bachelor/bachelorette parties; it isn’t too difficult to find a place to grab a good cocktail in Texas’ capital city. Finding a great spot that offers alcohol-free options that go beyond “virgin” cocktails (which is actually code for club soda and syrup) is a bit of a different story.
While Austin also has an awesome health, wellness, and recreation scene, I found it a bit more difficult to find great spots to grab non-boring alcohol-free drinks when I gave up drinking last year for Dry January. Sure, I can survive off of a regular water (or a beloved Austin fave: Topo-Chico), but sometimes it’s great to have something special to sip on when you’re out with friends or on a date. After a year of navigating the city booze-free, here are my top picks for places to grab mocktails or other fun non-alcoholic drinks in ATX:
Vinaigrette. Hands-down, my favorite spot for a great mocktail in Austin. Vinaigrette offers a wide variety of alcohol-free tonics and tinctures - all made with fresh, healthy ingredients. Also, when the weather is nice, Vinaigrette has a killer patio. My fave is the Earth Bite, a mixture of golden beet, grapefruit bitters, soda, pineapple and lime.
Fresa’s - South First. A VERY close second (and definitely one of my favorite places to eat in Austin) is Fresa’s on South First. Fresa’s has an amazing patio and great food, but also offers delicious aguas frescas in several flavors. I always order the watermelon and ask my server to add a salt rim - it’s a yummy and refreshing treat (and also the most affordable option on my list).
Roosevelt Room. This was a top spot for me to grab cocktails when I was drinking. I love the swanky atmosphere and, surprise - they also have amazing non-alcoholic options; three to be exact (but the bar tenders are pros and I'm sure they'd dream up something for you if asked). I love the Glitter & Marigold. Spoiler, there's no glitter, but the combo of orange juice, orange flower water, pistachio extract, vanilla bean, and cream tastes pretty magical. They also don't skimp on presentation with their NA bevs - so I felt pretty fancy sipping my drink.
True Food Kitchen. Much like Vinaigrette, True Food Kitchen has a “Refershers & Teas” menu all built from fresh, health-conscious ingredients. I love their Pomegranate Chia Limeade and their Carrot Tumeric Tonic.
Backbeat. Backbeat is a midcentury cocktail bar located on South Lamar. This place has a really great vibe and is a great place to meet a date or friends for drinks. I was surprised to find that Backbeat does offer 2-3 craft non-alcoholic drinks on their menu (everything I tried was tasty and refreshing).
Hillside Farmacy. Though I don’t make it over to this little east side spot very often, they do have several house-made non-alcoholic drinks like fresh pineapple limeade (yum) and the Hot Country Doctor, a warm drink with ginger, fresh apple and cinnamon.
Anywhere that serves Kosmic Kombucha on tap. When I gave up alcohol, I started a serious love affair with kombucha. Though it can be an acquired taste, I found that the blends offered by local brewer, Kosmic Kombucha, were a good segway into the kombucha craze. One of my favorite warm weather (because there is a lot of it in Austin) drinks was Kosmic’s Salty Dog (it slightly mimics all of the things I love about a margarita on a warm day). While there are several great local kombucha brewers, I found tons of places that sell Kosmic on tap; here are my faves:True Food Kitchen (and their more casual sister restaurant, Flower Child), Friends and Allies, Yard Bar, Circle Brewing Company.
As it happens, Austin does have several sober-friendly spots to enjoy a mocktail over dinner or good conversation. Though I love the spots on my list above, you can also find more great recommendations in this recent CultureMap article.