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.
Holy Roller. Located just off of West 6th, Holy Roller is an eatery with a pretty bad ass vibe. Their bar serves up three Spirit Free Cocktail options (Spicy, Sweet or Citrus) and also offers flavored Shrub Sodas. I opted for the spicy (because that’s my thing) and was delighted with the little concoction I was served!
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.
Sway. I just recently experienced the amazing drinking vinegars at one of my favorite Thai eateries, Sway. I had an amazing little coconut-lime mixture that tasted like absolute heaven. I can’t wait to get back for both the food and alcohol-free drinks.
Carpenter Hotel. One of my favorite new spots in Austin has to be The Carpenter Hotel. From the low-key coffee shop to the clean restaurant and bar - I dig all of the vibes at this new Austin spot. While they don’t offer an alcohol-free drink menu, the bartenders were quick to whip up a little mocktail (and a tasty one at that) for a friend and I dining there for dinner.
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.
The Sans Bar. Last, but not least, I can’t forget to mention my friends at The Sans Bar, a sober pop-up bar that makes an appearance every Friday night at 8 PM. The Sans Bar always boasts a handful of crafted soft-cocktails (which are all-you-can drink after a $10 cover). This spot is a great option if you’re looking for that bar-like atmosphere without the temptation of booze. Check out their Instagram to stay in-the-know on upcoming events or pop-up theme nights.
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.