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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

01-20-15 | By

The Buzz About Dry Bars – Billiards and “Mocktails”

dry bars

The Concept of Dry Bars

When folks picture a gathering of their friends, more often than not, the get together involves alcohol. Maybe a typical girl’s night out involves high-priced martinis at a chic bar, or getting the guys together means meeting at the neighborhood pub for a couple of pints during a sporting event. For those who don’t drink, it can be frustrating to meet friends and family for outings that rely heavily upon alcohol as a main factor of entertainment.

The truth is, consumption of alcohol has fallen dramatically in the past decade. Drinking rates for those aged 18-29 years old have fallen 30 percent from 2012 to 2013 in comparison to the previous decade. However, adults still crave a cool and casual gathering place in which to spend their leisure hours. Bars have traditionally been places to socialize, meet new friends and form relationships. Many bars are considered informal community gather places within their neighborhoods, a place where people can interact within their locality.

Dry bars carry on this tradition of community by providing a casual hang-out spot, complete with rich atmospheres, popular past-times such as pool and darts and menus offering snacks and meals. Upon entering a dry bar, you probably wouldn’t notice a difference between the character and quality of an alcohol-based bar. People are still having fun, engaging in raucous conversations and relaxing with delicious and refreshing drinks. Of course, the main difference here is that the cocktails (also known as mocktails) being enjoyed are deliciously booze-free.

This video features a dry bar in Chicago called “The Other Side” – pretty cool gig they got going on.

Does Alcohol Really Factor into a Fun Night Out?

It seems to be somewhat of a culturally ingrained precept that going out on a weekend to party or celebrating a big event must incorporate the consumption of alcohol in order to foster a sense of celebration. When most people think about their past exploits involving alcohol though, regret and embarrassment may be the emotions related to the memories of an epic bender. Planning an indulgent night out starts with the best intentions, but over consuming alcohol is associated with a whole host of negative consequences.

The most innocuous of these ill-effects is a terrible hangover. Nearly anyone who drinks is familiar with the morning-after effects of having a few too many: a pounding headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to noise and light and extreme fatigue. Although we may laugh it off and pop an ibuprofen with our morning coffee before we trudge off to work, hangovers actually have a high cost. In the U.S., hangovers cost the economy billions of dollars in lost productivity.

A night out at the bar can also quickly take a turn for the worst. Alcohol use is highly associated with violent and criminal behavior. Since drinking lowers people’s inhibitions, impulsive and aggressive behaviors may be acted out due to a person’s impaired judgement. In 2014, about 3 million violent crimes occurred in which alcohol was considered to be a contributing factor.

Violence against women, in the form of sexual assault, molestation and rape, is a huge concern relating to alcohol consumption and the bar culture. 37 percent of all reported crimes of this nature involved alcohol. In a recent study, a shocking 1/3 of all male university students said they would rape a woman if there were no associated consequences. In a society that all but condones violence against women by maintaining a steady silence and denial of such gender-fueled offenses, alcohol’s lowering of inhibitions clearly correlates with men assaulting women.

All of a sudden, heading down to the local bar to knock back a couple of beers doesn’t seem so appealing. You might end up short on rent because you missed work due to an awful hangover, end up in E.R. from a bar fight or become a statistical victim of heinous crime. So where’s a person to go to hang out with their friends?

The Buzz About Dry Bars

In a society that has a lenient attitude towards excessive alcohol consumption, it’s normal for people to feel some amount of anxiety toward the thought of going to out to socialize without some liquid courage. Therein lies the beauty of dry bars: everyone is out to have a good time, sans spirits, and are focused on forming genuine connections with one another.

Dry bars offer a different atmosphere than do other alcohol free gathering places, such as coffee or juice bars. Dry bars offer the cool, adults-only vibe of a traditional bar, where social constructs such as profession and income bracket are cast aside for the sake of meeting new friends and having a good time. The bar culture of commonality, leisure and celebration is the same at these establishments, but offer people a healthier and different mode of interaction. No one is drunk and stumbling around a dry bar – they’re alert, aware and fully functional. Many people have made the drunken choice to take a person home for the night, only to wake up beside them the next morning wondering what their drunk selves were thinking. At dry bars, you know you’re socializing with your full capacities intact and won’t make an regrettably alcohol-soaked choice to become intimate with someone who would you would normally find repellant.

Dry bars give people the opportunity to escape the peer pressures associated with group drinking. When you meet up at a dry bar, you get the chance to take a night off without making it a night in. No one is pressuring you to keep up with your friends, making you feel obligated to knock back a few drinks you don’t really want. The food and mocktail choices are delectable, and since dry bar clientele are not desperately searching for greasy “drunk-foods”, the cuisine tends to be healthier, tastier and more sophisticated than that of the traditional pubs.

Dry bars seem to capture the ethos of today’s younger generation, one of social norm disruption through positive cultural changes. Possibly due in part to the prevalence of social media, young people are more communicative than ever. Dry bar clientele lean towards the more educated, urban and sophisticated end of the consumer spectrum. In other words, these are the consumers forming trends that define what products and services are available, who personify the image of modern coolness.

The up-and-coming dry bar movement is patronized by people who all agree that the absence of alcohol can make for the perfect night out. Cultural concepts that relate to changing deeply ingrained patterns of behavior often blossom amongst young, dynamic groups of individuals. In the next few years, trendy and hip dry bars are sure to be popping up in nearly every city. Pretty soon, it may be that inviting your friends out for a drink will be dismissed as a feeble excuse for a social gathering.


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