The 12 best restaurants and bars for non-alcoholic cocktails in Philadelphia
When chef Nick Elmi quit drinking alcohol four years ago, he remembers being surprised how often he would ask for a soft drink in a restaurant and only be offered a Coke or a sprite. As a sober hospitality professional, he was disappointed. “If you don’t think of everyone, then you don’t think of anyone,” he said.
Today, the Top Chef winner and owner of Laurel, ITV, Lark and The Landing Kitchen says bar programs in Philadelphia have changed for the better. Whether it’s due to sobriety, pregnancy, health issues, and a number of personal reasons, more and more people are saying “no thanks” to alcohol. And many restaurants and bars have added mocktails – also known as mocktails, NA (non-alcoholic) drinks, zero-proof drinks, and other cute nicknames like “uncocktails” – to their menus.
“We went beyond 10 years ago, when you walked into any bar and the only things they had were orange juice, pineapple juice and cranberry juice. on the [soda] pistol, ”says Resa Mueller, bartender at R&D in Fishtown and curator of cocktails at the W.
The cocktail expert enjoys the challenge of creating great non-alcoholic drinks. It’s hard to replicate the structure, undertones, and silky texture that alcohol can lend to drinks, but she has found a number of alternatives that work. For example, Mueller likes to use fresh fruit juices, homemade syrups, soda in small amounts, tannic teas, glycerin-based bitters, and coconut or oat milk in his NA drinks.
It has also incorporated non-alcoholic spirits – a new segment of the beverage market that has seen explosive growth in recent years – into its beverages. “I really like Ritual,” she says. “They make a zero-proof alcohol called Tequila Alternative that’s made from agave, which is pretty cool, and [one called] Alternative to whiskey.
Elmi seeks “creativity and balance” in the zero-proof drinks he serves in his restaurants and those he orders when he goes out to dinner. “It’s pretty easy to challenge the bar team to come up with something fun, so people who want to have an NA cocktail don’t feel out of place to ask,” he says. “Whether you’re sober or taking a month or a night off, it’s always nice to be able to have something creative and fun when you eat and drink.”
Here’s where to find some of the best non-alcoholic drinks in the area. Each place on this list features its non-spirited drinks right on the menu – so you don’t have to ask for something special, it’s waiting for you right there.
Considered by many to be one of the best cocktail bars in town, R&D is part of the Suraya, Pizzeria Beddia and Condesa family of restaurants. Bartender Resa Mueller creates new zero-proof cocktails every few months. She says tiki drinks lend themselves to being alcohol-free, thanks to their use of fresh fruit juice and coconut. That’s why you will often find a virgin colada with fresh pineapple, coconut cream and grated nutmeg on the R&D menu. Or a negroni-inspired drink that features alcohol-free spirits from the South African brand Abstinence and a grapefruit syrup with honey, which adds “stickiness and shine” to give it a true cocktail feel.
📍1206 Frankford Ave., 215-515-3452, rdphilly.com, @rd_philly, Monday through Thursday. 5-10 p.m., Fri-Sat 5 p.m. to midnight
With a menu full of unusual dishes like lamb’s tongue, pig’s head and pig’s blood cannoli, Ember & Ash couldn’t go with a standard “mocktail” or “zero proof cocktail” menu. No, the new East Passyunk restaurant has named its soft drinks “Non-Booze Jawns”. Beverage Manager Kristian Fidrych offers four drinks to pair with the kitchen’s wood-fired meat dishes. There’s a watermelon spritz brightened up with turmeric vinegar, a spicy version of a margarita, a sip of berries, but the real draw here is the negroni – it’s made entirely from three homemade alcohol-free spirits. The team creates the bitter flavors we expect from a traditional negroni with herbs, spices, plants, fruit peels and burnt sugar.
📍1520 E. Passyunk Ave., 267-606-6775, emberandashphilly.com, @emberandashphl, Tue-Thu 5-9 p.m., Fri-Sat 5 pm-10pm
People have been drinking shrubs since the 1600s, but you might not know much about these drinkable vinegars. They combine fresh fruit or juice with sugar and vinegar to form a refreshing, pleasantly tart but sweet drink that makes a great alternative to alcohol. On Head House Square, Bloomsday relies on local, seasonal ingredients for its homemade shrubs using fruit from Pennsylvania farms. The friendly place makes two NA soft drinks made from Three Springs fruit, one with blueberry shrub, tea and thyme, and the other with plum shrub and tea.
📍414 S. Second St., 267-319-8018, bloomsdaycafe.com, 📷 @bloomsdaycafe, 🕑 Wed-Fri. 4-9 p.m., Sat 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9 p.m., Sun 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
When San Francisco-based cocktail expert Rohini Moradi created the menu for the Solstice bar in Newtown, she focused on a signature ingredient from the alcohol-free collection: aloe juice. Its texture and earthy notes work well as an alcohol substitute in Solstice’s “non-cocktails”, which borrow everything but alcohol from a few of its cocktails – and come with photogenic toppings like mint leaves. golden and candied rosemary.
📍2948 S. Eagle Rd., Newtown, 📞 267-755-8994, dineatsolstice.com, @solsticenewtown, Mon-Thu 4-9 p.m., Fri-Sat 4-10 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4 p.m.-10 p.m.
In West Philly, Renata’s alcohol-free menu is almost as long as her cocktail list. Hand-squeezed lemonade is the basis of a few of these refreshing drinks – bartenders then add colorful mixes, like wild blueberries, rose water, and wild mint. If lemonade isn’t your drink of choice, the Mediterranean all-day cafe also offers pomegranate molasses infused soda and a grenadine and cream option.
📍3940 Baltimore Ave., 267-275-8254, renatas-kitchen.com, @renatas_kitchen, 🕑 Tue-Fri. 10 a.m. – 11 p.m., Sat-Sun 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.
In Ardmore, Lola’s Garden is inspired by its cocktail menu to offer five non-alcoholic cocktails. Bartenders at this new mainline hotspot use grilled pineapple juice for an alcohol-free version of a popular tequila-based cocktail, with a hint of heat from fresno pepper extract. They also make a drink that changes color using butterfly pea flower and lime juice to add a wow factor to a zero-proof drink. Lola’s offers plenty of outdoor seating and even an outdoor bar, making it a cozy space if you’re not ready to dine inside yet.
📍51 St. Georges Rd., Ardmore, 484-412-8011, lolasgardenrestaurant.com, @lolasgardenardmore, Mon-Thu 12 pm-10pm, Fri noon-midnight, Sat 10 am-midnight, Sun 10 am-10pm
The most family-friendly bar in town – you know, the one with the playground – don’t forget the four-legged friends. That’s right: Craft Hall has a menu of dog mocktails. These “dogua frescas” involve fresh fruits and vegetables mixed with coconut water and served in your dog’s water dish. Don’t worry, the Delaware Avenue destination also offers four user-friendly mocktails that focus on fresh fruit purees – and for just $ 6.
📍901 N Delaware Ave., 267-297-2072, crafthallphilly.com, @crafthallphilly, Wed-Thu 4 pm-10pm, Fri 4 pm-11pm, Sat noon-11pm, Sun noon-10pm
Zahav has long been a destination for non-drinkers – thanks to its owner, Michael Solomonov, who has been sober for years. With their new restaurant, their group of restaurants has taken an even closer look at alcohol-free libations. Fans of zero-proof drinks praise Laser Wolf’s fruit offerings, with passion fruit, salt beets, tamarind, and sour cherries dotting the menu. Kensington Restaurant has become one of the hardest tables to get, so book early or try to sit at the bar.
📍1301 N. Howard St., 📞 267-499-4660, laserwolfphilly.com, @laserwolf_philly, 🕑 Tue-Sat 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
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Since Chef Jen Carroll doesn’t drink alcohol, she made sure to incorporate NA drinks into her Spice Finch bar menu. “We wanted cocktails to be special and accessible to everyone, whether or not you choose to indulge in alcohol… whatever your reason,” she explains. His Rittenhouse restaurant serves what might be the only non-alcoholic shot in town. Feel the Fire Tonic is a zero-proof shot made with freshly squeezed ginger, lemon, turmeric and honey. Throw one in and follow it up with an alcohol-free negroni or a carrot-based concoction called Pretty Gritty.
📍220 S. 17th St., 215-309-2238, spicefinchphilly.com, 📷 @spicefinchphilly, 🕑 Wed-Thursday. 5-9 p.m., Fri 5-10 p.m., Sat 12 noon-10 p.m., Sun noon-8 p.m.
At Cherry Hill, bar pro Danny Childs is known for sourcing ingredients, fermenting in-house, and making much of the bar menu himself, including zero-proof drinks. Childs is particularly proud of their homemade fermented sodas, which combine “citrus, sweet, bubbly”. In addition to these sodas as well as homemade kombucha, the mocktails feature herbs from the restaurant’s garden and a combination of vinegar-based shrubs.
📍1442 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, 856-356-2282, fandftavern.com, @thefarmandfish, 🕑 Tue-Sat. 11.30am-8pm
For more than three decades, Judy Wicks’ White Dog Cafe has won fans for its local, farm-to-table cuisine. This philosophy is also reflected in the bar menu. The restaurant, which started in University City and now has outposts in Glen Mills, Haverford and Wayne, is looking into the season for its mocktails. That could mean apple cider and caramelized sugar in the fall and peachy mojitos in the summer.
📍3420 Sansom St., 215-386-9224, whitedog.com, @whitedogphilly, 🕑 Monday through Friday. 11.30am-9pm, Sat-Sun 10 am-9pm
Always at the forefront of beverage and distillation culture, Old City’s Art in the Age bases its non-alcoholic drinks around a zero-proof spirit: the Pathfinder Hemp & Root. Art in the Age founder Steven Grasse co-founded this hemp-based, avant-garde botanical alcohol-free spirit, which contains notes of fir, sage, juniper, saffron, wormwood and of angelica root. Try it in the Art in the Age Tasting Room in an alcohol-free cocktail created by resident mixologist Lee Noble.
📍116 N. Third St., 215-922-2600, artintheage.com, @artintheage, 🕑 Sun, noon-6 p.m., Tue-Thu 12 pm-6pm, Fri-Sat noon-7 p.m.
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