When I stopped drinking in April of 2005, I wondered if I would ever be able to have fun again outside of the bar scene. I feared I would never enjoy a live concert again, one of my greatest joys in life. As a single person, I had no idea how I’d ever go on a date again. “Who goes on a date and doesn’t drink?” For that matter, “Who goes out to eat at a nice restaurant (date or no date) and doesn’t have a glass of wine with their meal!?” (Did I mention the aperitif, the bottle of wine at dinner, and the after-dinner drinks that turned into shots towards the end of the evening?) I’d ruined all prospects of fun in my life! I determined I would always be, from that day forward; bored, boring, and surrounded by other bored and boring people. I was working in a bar. Most of my friends worked in bars and restaurants. Almost all my friends drank alcohol.
In those first few years as a non-drinker, I struggled to find activities that didn’t involve alcohol. However, more often than not, I participated in events that were drenched in alcohol and drug use and risked my new lifestyle and trajectory towards wellness. As a therapist, I would never have advised this to any of my clients. Why hang out in a candy shop if you are trying not to eat any added sugar? It seems the obvious choice would be to find a broccoli shop instead. But, broccoli shop? How bland, how boring, and how nonexistent! We needed a place that still felt like the candy shop without the candy! Still sweet, still vibrant, still FUN! Ok, enough with the metaphors. I wanted a nonalcoholic bar! A place for connection with other people making similar life decisions, a place without the risk but still social. I pondered that idea for a while, and then let it drop. It took several more years until that thought became a reality, in fact, it wasn’t until 2018 that I told this idea to a friend and she encouraged me not to ponder it anymore but to do it. Thank you, Allison! And, Bar Zero started to become a reality.
Once I started sharing this idea, I learned that so many others in recovery were longing for a space like this. I definitely was not the only one, and several people even mentioned calling it “SoBar,” which was our original name! I heard stories of friends in recovery having discussions about building a space just like this, a place for connection and community building for people in recovery. Many had the same questions I did in early recovery with the general theme being, “Will I ever have fun again?”
Just as this concept was forming and becoming something more than a shared idea, the sober curious movement started catching on. What timing! Now it’s not only those of us who consider ourselves “in recovery” looking for safe spaces, it’s also a new group of people looking for fun and for fewer hangovers yet still going out and enjoying a Friday night on the town! And, the press, the bar and restaurant industry and the general public are talking about not drinking! And, about drinking really tasty, alternative nonalcoholic drinks! They’re calling them “mocktails,” “zero-proof beverages,” “spirit-frees.” They’re being sold by Coca-Cola in a new line of nonalcoholic drinks called Bar None https://www.drinkbarnone.com/. They’re being made by distilleries, even! Non-alcoholic distilled beverages are made by Seedlip https://seedlipdrinks.com/us and starting to become more and more popular across the US after originating in the UK. And, the most fun part, local bartenders are starting to get excited and inspired to make high-end and delicious drinks without alcohol in them! Creativity and talent are showcased by the top bartenders in town and they are getting written up by local publications! https://coloradosun.com/2019/08/02/denver-sobriety-movement/
I’ve happily given interviews to the Denver Post (coming soon), Westword (twice!) https://www.westword.com/restaurants/sobar-could-soon-be-denvers-first-restaurant-for-and-by-the-sober-community-11105915 https://www.westword.com/restaurants/sobar-rebrands-as-bar-zero-with-plan-to-launch-catering-company-11408158, and Dining Out (also coming soon!) People are interested and getting involved with this new way of looking at drinking, or rather, not drinking and it is so thrilling to watch and experience!
Whatever they are calling these new drinks and establishments popping up across the country, I’m so excited to be a part of this shift, this movement! Without shame, without stigma, a lot more people are speaking clearly about what makes so much more sense, connection and a “life” without the booze yet still having a social outlet and space that includes delicious food and DRINKS!
Bar Zero is the space we’ve been craving. We are going to make it a reality. We need help doing that. Bar Zero is a 510 (c) 3 nonprofit organization and we have a long way to go before opening a brick and mortar restaurant. We are creating space for connection and community building. AND, also very excitingly, we are offering on the job training for people in early recovery from substance use problems. We know the “sober curious,” the “gray area drinkers,” those of us in recovery, and our communities at large need a place like this. Please help us bring this to Denver!
Our first Fundraiser is planned for September 11th, 2019 at Dazzle Jazz in downtown Denver. In partnership with Friends and Family, a Colorado nonprofit group for people who work in the hospitality industry, we are putting on a Zero-Proof Beverage Mix-Off! See the details on this amazing event on our website https://barzerodenver.org/ on the event page and join us for a unique and fun evening. Denver’s top mixologists will compete for a spot on the Bar Zero beverage menu. A panel of guest celebrity judges will taste and rate original eye-catching, mouthwatering nonalcoholic drink recipes. And you’ll get to be the judge too, by tasting a collection of awesome Zero-Proof Beverages and helping to pick the People’s Choice Award winner, all while enjoying new food menu creations and pairings by Chef Paul Rose.
Bar Zero’s Mission: Connection through food, intentional community, and professional collaboration for a continued life worth living in recovery.