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Why Bars Without Booze Are Suddenly Popping Up Everywhere

A new alcohol-free bar trend is sweeping the nation. But will it last?

A lot of new parents want downtime away from their kids, which usually means grabbing a quick drink somewhere with a friend, or, with your partner on date night. But what about going to a bar and not ordering a drink? Does that defeat the point? Maybe not. Because if a new trend continues to grow, bars without booze could become more common than you think and could have interesting implications for parents.

On Sunday, The Today Show ran a brief segment highlighting the sudden visibility of high-end cocktail bars completely free of any alcohol. “Alcohol has a monopoly of on how we socialize,” says Lorelei Bandrovschi founder of Listen Bar in New York City. “Is it really about how much is in those drinks? I don’t think it has to be.”

Though Listen Bar is only open one night a month in New York, Today points out that similar “sober curious” bars are popping up all over the country. While one could argue that parents actually might want to get drunk on their night off, or at least buzzed, it’s also possible that some parents might actually just enjoy a sober bar for the comfort of it. Plus, if you are a sober person, ordering a soft drink or a mocktail at a regular bar carries with it a small stigma. But, if everyone goes into a bar knowing that there’s no booze, that stigma could change.

Fathers, in particular, might feel pressured to drink by other men in social situations, meaning, if the notion of the sober bar really did catch on, it could alter a lot of male-bonding dynamics.

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That said, right now, the sober bar trend seems aimed mostly at single twentysomethings with disposable incomes in big cities like Chicago and New York, meaning, the economic viability of a sober bar in the family suburbs remains a mystery. For now.