ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –A recent Gallup Poll shows that more than 60% of adults aged 18 to 34 are cutting back on the amount of alcohol they drink. To meet the changing demand for non-alcoholic solutions, sober bars are increasing in numbers around the country.
The growing trend is making its way to New Mexico. Ryan Brown is the owner of Lost Cultures Tea Bar. The sober bar is one of the newest in the Albuquerque metro area. “We wanted to have something a little more accessible; easy walk-up, no reservations needed. Pop in, grab a cup, grab a pot, and enjoy some tea with your friends,” said Brown.
Using a tease-based cocktail list, Lost Cultures offers loose-leaf teas with a variety of flavor profiles throughout the day and a more robust menu of mocktails for their night-time patrons. “It combines different flavor profiles, different juices, lots of teas that are a couple of non-alcoholic spirit-based cocktails; but most of them I try to stick to a tea-based menu,” said Brown.
While a number of bars offer mocktails on their menu, very few dedicated “sober bars” call New Mexico home. However, that could soon be changing.
According to Nielsen IQ data, nonalcoholic drinks in the United States brought in $395 million between August 2021 and August 2022. That’s a growth of more than 20% in one year alone.
Brown plans to start adding kombucha to his menu in the spring of 2024, which is another popular alternative for consumers looking for nonalcoholic alternatives.
In the Albuquerque metro, locations line New Mexico Ferments and Urbanmama505 Kombucha offer kombucha on tap. While the fermenting process does produce a low level of alcohol, most processes yield less than 5% in their drinks.
If you’re in recovery or concerned about the alcohol content in the drink, be sure to read the labels or ask the server at the kombucha bar about the content in the beverage.
Another growing trend in the nonalcoholic movements is kava. Derived from the root of South Pacific plants, the name translates to “intoxicating pepper” from the Polynesian word “awa.”
Mandy Vickery is the owner of Pureland Kava, the first full kava bar in Albuquerque. She first discovered the drinks while living in Florida. A friend introduced her to the growing trend in St. Petersburg, which is considered by many to be the “Kava Capitol of the United States.”
After learning New Mexico had no stand-alone kava bars, Vickery made it her mission to bring the growing trend to the state. “People are surprised that there are so many different tastes that you can have. they enjoy the lifted and gifted feeling they have in about 30 minutes after a drink or two,” said Vickery.
While the kava root doesn’t contain any alcohol, it is considered by the National Institute of Health to have psychoactive properties. Experts say that it gives some consumers a calming, euphoric feeling. Vickery says this is what makes the root a perfect substitute for people abstaining from booze but still looking for a calming beverage with friends.
As more and more consumers are looking for healthier lifestyle solutions, sober bars could become a mainstay in nightlife attractions in cities like New York, Denver, and Phoenix. It’s only a matter of time before health-conscious New Mexicans will be thirsty for more sober solutions.
While studies are still being conducted on the overall efficacy and safety of these nonalcoholic alternatives, Vickery emphasizes that kava should not be consumed by women who are pregnant, people under 18, or those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. As with any dietary supplement, the best advice is to consult your doctor before consuming the project.