- Zero-proof alcohol is a beverage that’s designed to mimic the characteristics of different types of alcohol.
- Zero-proof alcohol is measured in percentage alcohol by volume (ABV), which is 0.5% or lower.
- Houston has plenty of nightspots that serve zero-proof alcohol, mocktails, and non-alcoholic beverages for a night out.
In the past few years, there has been a shift in the culture around alcohol and social settings. Zero-proof drinks, which are also known as alcohol-free or non-alcoholic beverages, are integral to the experience.
If you’re looking for a night out in Houston while in recovery, there are a variety of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs that offer mocktails, non-alcoholic beverages, and other exciting options for sobriety. Learn more about zero-proof alcoholic beverages and where to find them in Houston.
What Is Zero-Proof Alcohol?
Alcohol proof is a measurement of the potency of an alcoholic beverage. Higher proof means a more potent alcohol. This shows up on liquor labels as a matter of history and tradition, though a more accurate measurement in the US is the percentage alcohol by volume (ABV), which indicates its potency.
Following the tradition of alcohol proof, zero-proof alcohol is a beverage that mimics conventional alcohol, except without the actual alcohol. Also known as 0.0 spirit, plant-based alcohol alternatives, or alcohol-free spirits, zero-proof alcohol must legally contain 0.5% ABV or lower. Compared to conventional alcohol like beer, which has about 4 to 6% or spirits, which can be 40% or higher, zero-proof alcohol is a safer alternative to alcohol.
Zero-proof alcohol was created to offer an alcohol-free alternative for people in social situations that typically involve consuming alcoholic beverages, such as weddings, work events, and happy hours. Before the creation of zero-proof alcohol, the only options for people in recovery, people who don’t drink, or designated drivers were soft drinks or non-alcoholic beers like O’Doul’s.
Now, there are numerous brands of zero-proof alcohol available at retail locations and bars or restaurants:
- Seedlip: Known for its non-alcoholic distilled spirits, Seedlip offers a variety of flavors to mimic traditional spirits.
- Kin Euphorics: Kin focuses on creating adult beverages without alcohol, designed to promote relaxation and sociability.
- Curious Elixirs: This brand produces craft non-alcoholic cocktails with complex flavors.
- Monday Distillery: Offering alcohol-free alternatives to gin, rum, and other spirits, Monday Distillery provides a range of zero-proof options.
- Ritual Zero Proof: Ritual produces non-alcoholic alternatives to whiskey and gin, aiming to replicate the taste and experience of traditional spirits.
- Lyre’s Spirit Co.: Lyre’s is known for its non-alcoholic spirits, including alternatives to gin, rum, and whiskey.
- Three Spirit Drinks: This brand creates plant-based alternatives that aim to provide a unique drinking experience without alcohol.
- Heineken 0.0: Heineken offers a non-alcoholic version of its popular beer, Heineken 0.0.
- Athletic Brewing Company: This brewery specializes in non-alcoholic craft beers.
- Spiritless: Spiritless focuses on alcohol-free alternatives to whiskey.
Where to Get Zero-Proof Alcohol in Houston
When you plan your next night out in Houston, here are the top spots for mocktails and non-alcoholic drinks in bars, restaurants, or nightclubs:
Monkey’s Tail In Houston
Monkey’s Tail is a hip and quirky bar that offers craft cocktails and crafted drinks that are free of any alcohol. One of the most popular is Jessie’s Topo, a tajin y sal-rimmed Topo Chico with lime, but you could also try a Penichill’n, which is made with Lyre’s highland malt, grapefruit, lemon, ginger, and smoky tea.
Daily Gather is a bar and restaurant with three alcohol-free drinks in the spirit of mixology. The Daily BLT is a local favorite that includes blueberries, lemon, and thyme with ginger-lemon tonic. There are also fruity concoctions like ginger strawberry lemonade and the Cucumber Refresh, a lime, cucumber, basil, vanilla, and ginger “beer.”
Better Luck Tomorrow
Better Luck Tomorrow in the Heights is a local haunt with pretty non-alcoholic drinks like the Sin & Tonic, completely free of sin with grapefruit, agave, and tonic. The Jungle Birdie is another popular drink that balances giffard aperitif with molasses, cinnamon, pineapple, and lime.
Offering a full zero-proof cocktail menu, the Coltivare features seasonal drinks like the Not & Tonic, made with Cut Above Zero Proof Gin, elderflower tonic, grapefruit, lime juice, mint, and green peppercorn. There’s also a list of non-alcoholic beer and wine.
1751 Sea and Bar
The 1751 Sea and Bar is known for its robust gin collection, but the menu has zero-proof choices that use Seedlip non-alcoholic distilled spirits. Try the Sailor Moon, a concoction of Seedlip Grove 42, grapefruit juice, honey, and ghost pepper tincture.
Gatsby’s Prime Seafood
If you prefer dinner and drinks, River Oaks Gatsby’s Prime Seafood has alcohol-free drinks curated by the in-house mixologist inspired by Prohibition-era speakeasy fare. The Bootlegged Mule combines strawberry and lemon with ginger beer – served in a traditional copper mug – and the sweet and salty Four Swallows has grapefruit with hibiscus cubes and soda.
Nobu has a full alcohol-free cocktail menu with a range of citrusy to sweet to decadent. The spiced lemonade is a top mocktail that packs a punch with Serrano peppers, while the Lyre Liar mixes Lyre’s dark cane spirit with pineapple, coconut cream, and a dash of strawberry calico.
Should I Drink Zero-Proof Alcohol in Recovery?
Zero-proof alcohol can be a safe and inclusive alternative for people in recovery – or people who choose not to drink for other reasons – but it can be triggering for some people.
Some zero-proof alcohol brands use alcohol in the production process, but it’s removed in the final product. In addition, zero-proof alcohol must legally contain no more than 0.5% ABV, which is not enough to get anyone drunk, but it is still a trace amount of alcohol. For people who are sensitive to other trace amounts of alcohol, such as in mouthwash or medications like Nyquil, this can be enough to encourage drinking.
Finally, zero-proof alcohol is often created to provide a similar sensory experience to the real thing, including the smell and taste of alcohol. They even have similar packaging to mimic everything about alcohol. It’s important to understand your own triggers and make an informed decision about what you can handle.
Enjoy a Night Out in Houston Without Jeopardizing Your Sobriety
If you’re trying to avoid alcohol but want to enjoy some of Houston’s spectacular nightlife, there are plenty of options for zero-proof drinks in the city. Keep your sober lifestyle intact. Use this list to inspire your evening out without the risks and adverse effects of drinking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Zero-proof alcohol is designed to provide a healthy, safe alternative to drinking for people who don’t consume alcohol. In addition to people in recovery from alcohol use disorder or problem drinking, people may not drink alcohol because they’re a designated driver or they abstain from alcohol because of health reasons. In all of these situations, zero-proof alcohol offers fun mixed drinks and mocktails that help them feel more included in the social situation involving alcohol.
Zero-proof alcohol brands create their beverages with similar characteristics to the real thing. They may have botanicals that add flavor to mocktails or ingredients that are commonly found in spirits, such as spices in a whiskey alternative or juniper for zero-proof gin. This helps to mimic the experience, but it can also be a trigger for some people.
Some zero-proof alcohols contain trace amounts of alcohol that fall below the 0.05% ABV required by law. Others include alcohol in fermentation or distillation, but it’s removed in the final drink. Some have no alcohol at any point in the process. It’s important to read labels and understand how alcohol is included in the final product to make informed decisions.
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