Drinking

Cheers to Sobriety: Dallas' Go-To Bars and Restaurants for Mocktails

Flight of the Bees and Silent Dove are two of the from-scratch mocktails on offer at Paradiso.
Flight of the Bees and Silent Dove are two of the from-scratch mocktails on offer at Paradiso. Molly Wolchansky
In some cities — like Portland, Seattle and Denver — people spend their time hiking, biking and enjoying the outdoors. Dallas is not one of those cities. Dallas eats and Dallas drinks.

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:

Anise

5630 Village Glen (The Village)
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The vibrant bar at Anise in the Drey Hotel lobby has several mocktails on the menu.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Anise is in the boutique Drey Hotel inside the residential and community hub known as The Village. Anise has a patio out front and a beautiful bar with pan-Meditteranean influences. But try to get a seat in the back of the restaurant for a truly stellar space. The 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 Bar

1914 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’s

1404 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.
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Nada IPA at Community
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Dallas loves a brewery, but these spots aren’t exactly the first place you’d go to if you're practicing sobriety. If beer is your thing, but the alcohol content isn’t, Community Beer Co. has you covered. Opt for a 12-ounce pour of 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 Invitados

3699 McKinney Ave., No. 200
5240 N. O’Connor Blvd., No. 160, Irving
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The Grilled Pineapple, The Pineapple and The Blueberry Seltzer can be modified to become cocktails at Hugo's Invitados.
Courtesy of Hugo's Invitados
Diners won’t see Rondel Zero, a nonalcoholic cava, on 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.

Strangeways

2429 N. Fitzhugh Ave.
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Strangeways is such a great place to hang out and
Lauren Drewes Daniels
The venerable East Dallas bar 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's

125 E. Oak St., Denton
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There are six zero-proof cocktails on tap at Miss Angeline's.
Courtesy of Miss Angeline's

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 Station

3400 Commerce St.
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Thunderbird Station is known for creative drinks and will soon have mocktails.
Ashlea Hanks

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!"

Public School 214

3700 McKinney Ave., No. 148
The best thing about the mocktails at Public School 214 is that the menu is ever-changing, so when a season ends and a new one begins, the menu is updated to reflect that time of year. The Strawberry-Tangerine Refresher is offered year-round, and it has fresh strawberries mixed in with the ice, which imparts a sweet berry taste with every sip. If you’re wanting something more traditional, the bartender can whip up a virgin mojito or recreate almost any cocktail on the menu to make it nonalcoholic.

Niwa Japanese BBQ

2939 Main St. (Deep Ellum)
Grilling your own food at the table makes for a fun night out itself, but when there are options for alcohol-free drinks if you’re not partaking in spirits, it certainly seals the deal. There is not a separate mocktail menu, but Niwa will gladly make one of their many cocktails nonalcoholic. A fan fave is the Lavender Fields, which has lavender-infused honey, grapefruit, lemon, and bubbles and is topped with a lemon peel. You could also try the house-made Matcha Lemonade as your second drink, which pairs perfectly with all of the delicious meat Niwa has to offer.

Paradiso

308 N. Bishop Ave. (Bishop Arts District)
Paradiso creates its mocktails with freshly squeezed juices and house-made syrups, so when you’re trying the Flight of the Bees, which has ginger beer, honey, and lemon, you know it’s going to be good. Another favorite is the Silent Dove, which is served in an ice-filled Collins glass and is garnished with a slice of grapefruit and an edible pink carnation clipped to the rim with a small clothespin. In addition to the plentiful mocktails, the atmosphere offers some magic. From a gold-lined bar with vines hanging from light fixtures, to a huge seating area lined with plants and trees outside, Paradiso is the perfect paradise to sip on a drink with friends in tow.

The People's Last Stand

5319 E. Mockingbird Lane, No. 210 (Mockingbird Station)
The bartenders at People's Last Stand spend a lot of time concocting different types of cocktails each month, which means each time you visit they are likely to have new drinks to try. While this place does not have a dedicated mocktail menu, the crew can create almost any drink on the cocktail menu sans liquor. Try the Pineapple Purple Sky without the booze, which has freshly made hibiscus-pineapple-peach syrup, or the Palm Tree Dreams, with spicy mango, if you are wanting an extra kick to your sip. You can also create a mocktail of your own by letting the bartenders know what you like, which makes this a great spot to test out your creative abilities.

XOXO Dining Room

3121 Ross Ave.
If you’re looking for pink, pink, and more pink, XO Dining Room is the place to grab a nonalcoholic beverage with your pals. For something sweet and aromatic, the Uptown Virgin has lime, fresh strawberry and simple syrup infused with rosemary. For all of the spicy lovers, you may want to try the Lil’ Papi, which has jalapeño, lime juice, pineapple and agave, with a juicy pineapple garnish on top. This spot is open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, so if you’re out with friends and are getting a little tired, you could go for the XO Espresso, which includes cold brew, vanilla simple, half and half and cinnamon to get you through the rest of the night. Dress up in your best cocktail (mocktail) attire and be sure to make a reservation because this place fills up quickly. (Don’t forget to stay late on the weekend to dance to the DJ.)

Atípico

2301 N. Akard St. (The Union Dallas)
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Sof Rose at Atipico.
Molly Wolchansky
Atípico, the newest spot on this list, comes straight from Mexico City and opened in 2022 in The Union Dallas. Seven different mocktails are available, with a wide variety of flavor choices. The must-try Cool Moment has passionfruit, peppermint and club soda sprinkled with cardamom, which offsets the tartness and sweetness of the drink. The Sof Rose is another fan favorite, with lychee and coriander, topped with a fresh red rose petal. Atípcio also supports local business by using Dallas-made El Cantinero mixers in some of the drinks.
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Desiree Gutierrez is a music and culture intern at the Dallas Observer. Equipped with her education from Dallas College Brookhaven Campus and the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism, Desiree has transformed the ability to overthink just about anything into a budding career in journalism.

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