Dry bars on the rise in Toronto

Don’t drink alcohol? Well, here’s some good news for you!

Dry bars are becoming a popular phenomenon in Toronto, as businesses try to accommodate the non-drinkers of the city. For Ryerson students, it may be because they’ve committed to a dry month of no alcohol, can’t have a drink for health reasons, or are simply underage.

Nightowl Toronto is a bar located on College Street that is famous for its non-boozy floats, which are composed of different flavoured sodas and ice cream. 

Photo courtesy of Braden Rubinoff.

Owner, Braden Rubinoff, told The Ryersonian that they refer to guests who choose to avoid alcohol as “heroes”, devoting an exclusive “drink menu for heroes” that are free of charge for designated drivers.

“I’d like to think of bars as spaces to socialize and have fun with your friends, as well as to meet new people. Alcohol doesn’t have to be consumed in order to be able to do those things. Rather than just offering boring options like water and pop, we thought it would be a fun idea to create a mocktail menu for people who aren’t drinking while at Nightowl,” Rubinoff said.

Business management student Brian Baum said he doesn’t drink because it gives him intense panic attacks. “I definitely think it’s a great idea. I often find myself passing on plans when friends decide to go to bars as I find it awkward and uncomfortable, but I may have to check them out, dry bars sound like a good idea,” Baum said.

Another dry bar in Toronto is the Shameful Tiki Room, which puts a fun twist on non-alcoholic drinks.

Alana Nogueda, part-owner of the Shameful Tiki Room, told The Ryersonian that they think it’s really important to have different options, and cater to people who don’t want to drink.

“We have a little section of mocktails on our cocktail list and we do almost anything due to the fact that [we] have 30 different juices and syrups, so we can make many variations of mocktails,” said Nogueda

“Coco Beware” is Shameful Tiki Room’s best mocktail. It contains ginger, coconut syrup, guava juice, pineapple, orange and mint leaves. 

Photo courtesy of Alana Nogueda.

Syed Razvi, a journalism student at Ryerson, doesn’t drink because his religion doesn’t allow him to. “It could appeal to a lot of people who don’t drink and people who like to socialize on a Friday night, for example. They could end up in places like these. It could be a really good opportunity for them to come out and socialize, or just chill out and relax. But, like I said, the reason I don’t drink is because of my religion and I follow my religion, a bar is a bar if there is alcohol in it, ” Razvi said.

One bar that takes the dry bar concept to the next level is Prettyugly.

Robin Goodfellow, who is a partner of Prettyugly, told the Ryersonian that they choose to use the term “placebo” when referring to non-alcoholic drinks, because they believe a non-alcoholic drink can stand on its own and deserves just as much care and attention as cocktails.

“We’re not really fond of the term ‘mocktail’ at Prettyugly because although it is typically the term used for a drink made without alcohol, we find it a bit marginalizing. It gives power to the term ‘cocktail,’ as if the drink that contains alcohol is superior to the version that doesn’t contain booze. Like it’s the mocking version of the drink,” said Goodfellow.

One of Prettyugly’s more popular placebos is the “Fauxmaro Spritz”.

“It’s a bitter, complex, yet refreshing concoction that is definitely for the adventurous type. The focal ingredient is our special Fauxmaro. It’s a combination of herbs and woods both fresh and dried, steeped and reduced to perfection,” Goodfellow said.

Photo courtesy of Robin Goodfellow.

Ryerson student, Bavitthran Kathir, told the Ryersonian that he quit drinking last year because the liquid poison was causing him to lose control and be reckless.

Even though Kathir likes the idea of a dry bar, he doesn’t think they will make a big difference for people who stay away from alcohol.

“I’m down for the cause. I don’t think it really makes a big difference, because if people are comfortable enough with themselves to not drink, the setting won’t change their comfort level. If they aren’t comfortable in the first place, these promotions won’t work regardless,” said Kathir. 

 

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