Stories / Trending

Bar Professionals Share What They Drink When They're Not Drinking

The zero proof movement is here to stay

Morgan Carter

February 08, 2022


Image of the Beach Ritual cocktail on a wooden table
The zero-proof Beach Ritual cocktail from Death & Co Denver. (Photo: Death & Co)

It is never a bad idea to rethink your relationship with alcohol, especially while working in the industry. Luckily, a number of companies and creative bar professionals are saving space for sober and sober curious individuals at the bar by shaking up tinctures, shrubs, and syrups for creative cocktail concoctions, sans alcohol. We spoke with a number of industry professionals to see what they drink while not drinking.

Photo of Fanny Chu holding a rum bottle
Fanny Chu. (Photo: Yuxi Liu)

“I love going sober every now and then, especially surviving this pandemic. I believe in finding balance in every aspect [of] my life, especially when I am creeping up to being 46 years old. I also believe that everyone deserves a delicious drink regardless [of whether] you're sober, pregnant, or in Alcoholics Anonymous. When I was a bartender, I always loved the challenges of making an incredible mocktail. Back in the day, mocktails tended to be overly sweet due to juices and syrups available. But nowadays, we have spirit companies making pretty tasty non-alcoholic spirits. To balance sweetness, I like adding some bitter and herbal elements. I am really into non-alcoholic aperitivos and amaros. & Rossi just launched a couple of delicious non-alcoholic aperitivos for bartenders to play with. It makes a really tasty spritz or a light negroni.”—Fanny Chu, rum aficionado at Bacardi

Photo Tahiirah Habibi wearing a green jacket
Tahiirah Habibi. (Photo: Dimitri Crowder)

“I like Acid League non-alcoholic products. They are super botanical and refreshing. The packaging is dope too—from the outside, it looks like you're drinking wine!”—Tahiirah Habibi, founder of The Hue Society

“Homemade shrubs, syrups, and ferments are a great way to incorporate wonderful flavors into non-alcoholic drinks. I usually keep a bottle of switchel handy—it's essentially a ginger shrub made from ginger, apple cider vinegar, lemon, and a sweetener. It is super flavorful, refreshing, and incredibly easy to make. Fruit and vegetable shrubs are also super simple to make, some of my favorite ingredients to use for shrubs are strawberry, watermelon, [and] cucumber.” Greg Kong, head bartender at Kimika, New York

Kevin Nguyen
Kevin Nguyen. (Photo: Death & Co)

“I love tonic water just by itself—yeah, I’m a sick freak like that. It’s just enough sugar that it’s kind of like a soda, and then you can jazz it up with rosemary, olives, orange slices, and all the fixings to make a mock gin and tonic. To which, you can also add some non-alcohol gin to the mix.”—Kevin Nguyen, head bartender at Death & Co, Los Angeles


Morgan Carter is the content manager at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.