I love happy hour. Who wouldn’t want to kick back with friends after a long day at work? But sometimes you want the social fun without the actual alcohol. If someone in your cohort is sober, pregnant, or avoiding alcohol for any reason, it’s nice to hit up a place with more interesting non-alcoholic beverages than just Topo Chico.
A good mocktail isn’t just a fancy soda, but a complex beverage in its own right. It should have the proper blend of ingredients to keep from being overbearingly sweet. Done properly, it can be a refreshing treat you enjoy cheers-ing with, while your friends imbibe. Not every bar caters to non-drinkers, but Austin has a number of reliable options to turn to for a drink when you don’t feel like drinking.
This hip east side spot, built in a former laundromat, is known for its great brunch, dinner, and birthday cake ice cream sandwiches. However, in addition to Launderette’s lovely cocktail menu, it also offers a couple of delicious mocktails.
The Bruleed Pineapple avoids being cloyingly sweet with the addition of peppercorn syrup and ginger beer. The Watermelon Shrub also keeps it balanced with chili basil and a touch of salt. Both are refreshing, fun, and not too sweet to enjoy with bar snacks or dinner.
2115 Holly St. – Website
2/ Yard Bar
Yard Bar on Burnet is not just welcoming to people and pooches, but teetotalers, as well. While perhaps better known for its extensive local beer list, this hangout also has a decent selection of nonalcoholic cocktails.
The Virgin Mary leaves out the vodka, but includes pickled string beans. For something sweeter, you can get an Orange Cooler, which tastes like an orange creamsicle, or a Boom Berries. There’s also the Afternoon Delight with its refreshing blend of cucumber and mint.
6700 Burnet Road – Website
This Central Austin restaurant has a farm fresh take on classic Southern dishes and makes some pretty amazing biscuits. Olamaie also has a few mocktails, or “virgin cocktails,” as they call them. The Baby Buck is a mix of grapefruit and ginger beer, a refreshing take on a Moscow Mule. The Trinidad Hotel has a blend of mint, almond, and lime, and the Excellent Disguise features lemon, honey, and orange blossom.
Fair warning, Olamaie is a little pricy, though you will save a few shekels by leaving out the hard stuff.
1610 San Antonio St. – Website
Spicy Thai food goes well with a cool beverage to wash it down. Sway has both. In addition to a selection of beers and wines, this South Austin hot spot has a number of drinks that are far more intriguing to a non-drinker than the same old sodas and water.
Sway has several kombucha blends with flavors like peach, or lemongrass and kaffir lime. (Note: kombucha may contain as much as 0.5 percent alcohol by volume, which is the legal line for what is considered nonalcoholic.) The restaurant also serves drinking vinegars over ice with sparkling water in flavors like strawberry basil and turmeric. If you opt for a soda, there are fun house-made ones to choose from.
1417 S. 1st St. – Website
5/ Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo Drafthouse isn’t exactly a happy hour spot, but if you’re taking a non-drinking friend to a show, know they will find something to whet their whistle. The cocktail menu at everyone’s favorite Austin-based movie chain is rated like the MPAA rating system, and their “G” drinks offer non-alcoholic sips for all ages.
Options include the Peach Tea “Old Fashion,” which keeps the bitters but mixes them with extra strong oolong instead of bourbon, and the Pineapple Cucumber Fizz.
Multiple locations – Website
The next time you want to toast with the group without holding the hard stuff, give one of these Austin mocktails a try.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What’s your favorite mocktail in Austin?
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