Mocktails, virgin concoctions, sober bars and faux-drinks: the best of Philadelphia’s Dry January

The mocktail isn’t new. Within the last decade, their creation, and that of the zero-proof, sober bar, was part of a reckoning that came with the necessary issues of mental health and the freedom to respect one’s mind, body and psyche as a temple – as something worth clarity.

What is fascinating, however, is how, in the last year, sober bars such as The Volstead in Manayunk have popped up, and more Philly bars, bar managers and bartenders than ever have created programs toward fashioning mocktails and pouring virgin blends in this, a January dedicated to staying dry and sober. It can be intoxicating to not be intoxicated.

Here is a best, healthy list of Philly’s healthy, zero-proof mocktail options in this, Dry January 2023 for those who are Sober Curious and beyond.

The Volstead by Unity: Vegan Plates and Zero Proof Libations, 4371 Main Street, Manayunk, PA

After hosting a first-ever Zero Proof New Year’s Eve Party, the now-famous Volstead, renowned for being the only sober bar within Philly city limits, is ready to roar with its fair selection of kombucha and a full selection of spirited non-spirits whipped into mocktails such as an Apple Bourbon Fizz with apple cider, non-alcoholic Old-Fashioneds and Manhattans, a wintry Partridge in a Pear Tree, and the Philly All-Star Citywide Special. Plus, The Volstead has a zero-proof bottle shop for those looking for takeout.

Art in the Age, 116 N 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA

Philly’s low down craft booze and high-brow liquor makers and purveyors are sober curious and prove it by hosting a Tuesday night non-alc cocktail workshop on January 10 and an “Off the Wagon Low-ABV Cocktail Class” on January 31. QA sessions, hands-on tutorials and demonstrations from AitA’s Lee Noble promise to walk you through the dry trend, and you can shop for nonalcoholic spirits such as The Pathfinder Hemp and Root while you drink.

Dolce Italian at the W Hotel, 1437 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

The chic W Hotel’s dark glossy bar and restaurant holds the secret to the Peach Spritz mocktail, a Seedlip Garden 108, peach and lemon concoction that is soft and sharp, sweetly sour and refreshing.

Forsythia, 233 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

Just because Chef Christopher Kearse is running a rich, contemporary French restaurant doesn’t mean you have to down a bottle of Parisienne red with the meal or a Boulevardier at the bar in Old City. Forsythia has zero-proof offerings such as its Shrub & Soda of the Day (featured flavor Apple-Fig) and a clutch of mocktails and low-ABV sippers such as the “PGL” of non-alcoholic tequila, pomegranate, ginger, and lime juice.

Rex at The Royal, 1524 South Street, Philadelphia PA

The Royal Theater’s new tenant has two no-ABV cocktails to share with no alc imbibers, the first having another kind of kick. If You Got ‘Em is crafted with cold brew coffee, smoked pear, lime, rosemary, and demerara for a fruity, smoky caffeinated rush Then there’s the Cide Eye concocted with apple pie cocktail syrup, lemon, sparking, and a salt rim.

Buddakan, 325 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

Stephen Starr’s Pan-Asian fusion salon in Old City offers up the Bitter Truth – a zero-booze mocktail of lime hints, agave syrup and tonic that is refreshing and ever-so-puckeringly sour.

Patchwork, 1620 Chancellor Street, Philadelphia, PA

The new bar and New American cuisine restaurant on the second floor of Hyatt Centric Center City Philadelphia always has a heavy pour. Why would Dry January (and beyond) be any different? The New Me is composed of espresso, orange cordial, tonic, and lemon. The Permisson Says is made with permisson cardamom shrub, lemon, and soda. There is a Ghia Spritz using non-alcoholic aperitif Ghia, bubbles, lime and sea salt. Patchwork gets silly with its Don’t Call Me Shirley comprised of house-made grenadine, hibiscus, and ginger. Then they get serious when its Newgroni, composed of Italian red bitter soda and lemon, hits your bar-nap.

Fitz on 4th, 743 S 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA

The toast of non-alcoholic Queens Village hosts – among other mocktails – Lia’s Lavender Lemonade which is a light lavender-infused creation with sparkling water, lemon, and a lavender sprig. A sprig? I’ll do a jig for a sprig.

Stratus Rooftop Lounge, 433 Chestnut Street, 11th floor of Kimpton Hotel Monaco, Philadelphia, PA

High atop the 11th floor of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Old City, Stratus elevates Dry January to an art and a science featuring menu items designed from the non-alcoholic distilled spirits brand Seedlip. Stratus jazzes up a Harvest Dreams with Seedlip 108, spiced cucumber syrup, and lime juice, as well as a Currently Venting featuring Seedlip 94, huckleberry syrup, and lemon juice, topped with club soda. Double yum.

Talula’s Garden, 210 W Washington Square, Philadelphia, PA

Though dusky and intimate, one of Talula’s Garden’s signatures is its lush greenery-heavy vibe. So why not go with a mocktail, The Pilot 10, featuring rosemary, shaken orange-spiced sunrise and bubbly ginger soda.

Urban Farmer, 1850 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA

Logan Square’s modern American steakhouse has an array of no-proof cocktails that promise to be as robust and rare as its dry-aged Porterhouse. The Farm Mule is made of Fever Tree Ginger Beer and lime mint syrup, finished with a dash of bitters. Their Pal-No-Ma is crafted with grapefruit, lime, agave, and sea salt, topped with soda water. Urban Farmer’s Pomegranate Spritz features Fever Tree Club Soda, pomegranate juice, and rosemary, finished with fresh lime. And the no alc-bar hosts an Orange Creamsicle Fashion with Fever Tree Club Soda, orange juice, vanilla bean, and Chantilly cream.

The Love, 130 S 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA

This bright, bold, Off-Rittenhouse Square eatery welcomes a No Booze Prickly Pear Margarita mocktail of Chamomile tea, lime and agave with a salted rim to its menu. “This drink has so much flavor, you won’t miss the alcohol” goes its legend.

KPOD, 3636 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA

KPOD’s United Sodas of America doesn’t number 50 un-altered states, but they are equitably delicious and diversely flavorful in White Grape, Sour Blueberry, Pear Elderflower, or Extra Peach. Extra Peach? I can’t handle that.

Jet Wine Bar, 1525 South Street, Philadelphia, PA

This “global vineyard” known for its Ancient World wines is hosting a Dry January event tasting “Boozeless Bottles,” a hangover-free wine and spirits tasting with Gem Life + Bar, on January 10. On Tuesday, Drew Davis from Gem Life Booze-free Bottle Shop will walk attendees through each zero-proof libation.

If you can’t make January 10, Jet Wine Bar boasts and hosts no-proof cocktails such as Cranberry Ginger Spritz with house-made cranberry syrup, and lime, topped with ginger beer, a Tarragon Fizz made up of a Georgian tarragon soda, spiced honey, finished with club, and Fever-Tree Craft Soda featuring ginger beer, sparkling lemon, and grapefruit. That’s some bite there.

    • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

      A.D. Amorosi is a Philadelphia-based journalist who, along with Philadelphia Weekly, writes for numerous local, national and international publications including Variety and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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