And, boy, do we mean drink. In October alone, Happiest Hour logged $1,144,420 in alcohol sales. Bottled Blonde trailed behind with $1,139,643 in alcohol sales. That’s just two of the thousands of restaurant and bar options in Dallas.
But times are changing. Across the U.S., adults are increasingly saying no to booze. Dallas' service industry is taking notice. Mocktails have begun making their way onto many Dallas menus. A recent study by NielsenIQ found that the demand for nonalcoholic beverages is on the rise.
And while some Dallasites are cutting out cocktails for good, others are cutting back as a lifestyle or economical choice. And honestly, who wouldn't when cocktails are costing just as much as the meal?
“It's become a luxury to drink or to socially drink consistently,” says Antonio Vargas, manager at Hugo’s Invitados, where cocktails range from $11 to $17. A couple of drinks can easily rack up a $40 plus tab with tip.
Happy hours have become a drinker's best friend. Dallasites are taking advantage of drink specials, or they simply aren't drinking, Vargas says.
But drinkers aren’t cutting back solely for economic reasons. Many who opt to not drink are doing so for wellness.
“Everybody wants to live healthy, look healthy and feel good,” Vargas says. “Everyone's a little bit more conscious of what they're putting in their bodies these days.”
The days of sugar-filled drinks such as a Cuba Libre, Jack and Coke or pina coladas are gone, he says. Eaters want fresh ingredients and alcohol is no longer a necessity.
Stevie Nuñez knows this all too well. Nuñez has worked in Dallas’ service industry since he was 18. For the last eight years, alcohol has been quintessential to his work and social life.
Five nights a week, Nuñez was drinking eight to 10 cocktails with his friends. Afterward, he’d grab a late-night bite, typically fast food. The alcohol and sugar intake was taking a toll on his body. By July 2022, He weighed 260 pounds. His girlfriend suggested he cut back on drinking.
“I told her, ‘This is what I do, this is who I am right now, I just can't quit,’” Nuñez says. But he did.
On July 6, 2022, he gave up drinking for seven weeks. Since then, he drinks only one day a week, typically Sundays during the Dallas Cowboys games. His results were astonishing.
“I've lost 60 pounds in five months,” Nuñez says. “Giving up drinking and eating bad late is the main reason why I lost so much weight rapidly.”
Nuñez still visits Bishop Arts five nights a week, but he no longer orders a Red Bull with vodka. His drink of choice is a mocktail; water with a splash of cranberry. The mocktail allows him to feel unrestricted.
“It’s mental,” Nuñez says. “With mocktails, you're still reaching to go get a drink while you're in a conversation and take a sip.”
Vargas and Nuñez say mocktails allow the sober-inclined to participate in all the social aspects of drinking without compromising sobriety. Thanks to nonalcoholic beverages, this lifestyle is increasingly accessible in restaurant and bar settings.
“Between August 2021 and August 2022, total dollar sales of nonalcoholic drinks in the U.S. stood at $395 million, showing a year-on-year growth of 20.6%,” according to the NielsenIQ report. Nonalcoholic beer sales are up 19.5%. Nonalcoholic wine is up 23.2%, and nonalcoholic spirits are up a staggering 88.4%.
Dallas restaurants and bars aren't getting left in the dust. Mocktails are popping up on many North Texas menus. Here’s a roundup of where to get some stellar nonalcoholic drinks in fun spaces:
Anise5630 Village Glen (The Village) Zero Proof menu has four drinks, including a house-made version of an Arnold Palmer and an Underserved with rose petal tea, strawberry syrup and lemon.
Leela’s Wine Bar1914 Greenville Ave. This year Leela’s Wine Bar is giving Dallas a mocktail for Christmas. Each year, Lower Greenville’s Leela’s Wine Bar becomes a hub for Dallasites to enjoy holiday decor and sip on a cocktail or glass of wine. For 2022, Leela’s is adorned with sparkling disco balls and snowflakes as part of the disco wonderland theme. And this year it introduced a mocktail, Jingle Bell.
"The inclusion of fun and delicious mocktails is vital for any cocktail menu," Leela's Wine Bar general manager Ashley Walsh says. "More and more people are choosing to not consume alcohol, but that doesn't mean they should miss out on a good experience."
Jingle Bell combines cranberry, pomegranate and orange blossom with Topo Chico to create a fizzy mocktail that transforms Leela’s into an inclusive sober-friendly destination.
Double D’s1404 N. Riverfront Blvd. Dallas’ latest bar, Double D’s, had a soft opening in the Design District on Thanksgiving Eve. The much-anticipated bar's tagline is “all the love," which includes an expansive menu for all manner of imbibers. The mocktail menu includes The Bingo Bango, Everybody Loves the Sunshine and Brown Derby, all of which check the bells and whistles of a cocktail, sans the alcohol. At $6 each, these are a steal.
Community Beer Co.3110 Commonwealth Dr. Nada. The Nada brew is packed with the crisp citrusy bite of an IPA without the alcohol. It also doesn’t hurt the waistline: With less than 0.5% ABV, it has five grams of carbs and only 25 calories.
Hugo's Invitados3699 McKinney Ave., No. 200
5240 N. O’Connor Blvd., No. 160, Irving Hugo's Invitados wine list, but don’t fret. The Mexican restaurant keeps Rondel Zero on hand to diversify its cocktail menu and create an inclusive environment. The bar blends fresh squeezed lemonades or cold-pressed juices with the zero-proof sparkling wine to create an elevated drinking experience that will rival a cocktail any day. GM Antonio Vargas advises nondrinkers to ask a bartender to convert any cocktail on the menu into a mocktail, and wish granted.
Strangeways2429 N. Fitzhugh Ave. Strangeways is a longtime favorite known for its laid-back vibe. And they have several options for those who want to hang out sober. Try a Cucumber Cooler, a Pineapple Upside Down, Malta malted beverage or any of the six rotating alcohol-free beer selections.
Miss Angeline's125 E. Oak St., Denton
Mocktails have been integral to Denton's cocktail bar, Miss Angeline's, since its inception. The bar opened in 2019 with 36 taps. Cocktails and beer take up 30 of them. The other six are reserved for mocktails. These are not just any mocktails: each has all the bells and whistles of a cocktail without the hangover.
Grab a French 86 or Cranberry Spritz, both made with Ritual Zero Proof. The French 86 combines Ritual Zero Proof gin alternative with raspberry syrup, lemon and sparking water. Cranberry Spritz is made with Ritual Zero Proof whisky alternative, cranberry juice, simple syrup and soda water.
Other mocktails use Seedlip Nonalcoholic Spirits. Seedlip Spice 94, Golden Boy Coffee cold brew and cream make the EspressotiNo the perfect espresso martini alternative. Garden Smash is made with cucumber, mint, lime and Seedlip Garden 108. Seedlip Grove 42 is used for the PiNo Colada.
Thunderbird Station3400 Commerce St.
You heard it here first! A mocktail menu is in the works at Thunderbird Station.
"Thunderbird Station is working on a mocktail menu that will be ready to launch Dec. 13 to mid-December," owner Kim Finch says. "Our mocktail program will be just as fun, quirky and creative as our signature cocktails you know and love!"