This just in: Booze is not needed for dates.
A pint of beer. A glass of wine. A classic cocktail. Not so long ago, alcohol defined these beverages. But now the tides are turning, and you can partake in the social ritual of drinking — whether in a group of friends, on a romantic (or awkward first) date, or at a happy hour — sans booze. The nonalcoholic beverage is fast becoming ubiquitous. Publications ranging from Forbes and New York Times to Oprah and Good Housekeeping continue to buzz about the sober curious movement.
Believe it or not, the DMV is transforming into quite the hot spot for locally made booze-free beverages, zero-proof cocktails, and fun things to do which don’t require alcohol. The range is wide: museums (Smithsonian, National Zoo), live music (Wolftrap, any I.M.P. spot) and roller skating (Anacostia Skate Park), to outdoor dates and hitting D.C.’s must-try ice cream spots. We asked several locals for their favorite alcohol-free date ideas in the DMV. Here’s what they had to say.
We can’t talk about booze-free dates in D.C. without tipping our hat to mixologist Derek Brown, author of “Spirits Sugar Water Bitters,” the forthcoming “Mindful Mixology” and the spirit-free menu at Columbia Room. Take a walk around Blagden Alley and saunter upstairs to the bar.
What to drink at Columbia Room: Zero Spritz, Toasty Old Fashioned
“I loved the two NA drinks I tried,” Jeralds says about Crazy Aunt Helen’s selection. “So maybe brunch there and a walk to Eastern Market to browse the stalls [for an ideal date].”
What to drink at Crazy Aunt Helen’s: Tiki Mi Elmo, Friendly Southside
This only scratches the surface on places to try. Cyclist, podcaster and DMV territory manager for Athletic Brewing Mike Shipp loves to write down the names of all the restaurants that carry Athletic Brewing’s non-alcoholic craft beer. He puts them into a hat, then goes to whichever place is selected.
But, if you’re not comfy going out on the town just yet (there’s still a global pandemic), we’ve got some tips for cultivating the ultimate zero-proof home bar, stocked exclusively with DMV brands. Vera Rosenthal is a fan of supporting local spots — visit her Instagram for some great ideas — but she also loves to enjoy a drink at home and orders at-home cocktail kits from Raising the Bar, a zero-proof subscription box out of Boston.
The Great Outdoors
Not only are there fantastic nature getaways within a two-hour drive (Shenandoah National Park + Canaan Valley State Park), but we’re lucky to have green spaces all around D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Karina Carlson, founder of Well Read, votes for a leisurely picnic at Meridian Hill Park.
What to drink: Stay hydrated with boutique water from local H2O shop Salacious Drinks
On the Water
Whether you walk alongside the Southwest Waterfront before or after a concert at The Anthem, or try a stand up paddleboard (SUP) on the Potomac, several voted for hydro-powered dates. When we asked Bianca Russo of Bianca Russo Fitness her ultimate booze-free date, she exclaimed, “Sailing!”
Nancy Moustafa elected for a Covid-19-safe boat ride from Old Town Alexandria or Georgetown. “It’s fun, the scenery is lovely, and it’s not a totally enclosed space, which is safer than sitting in a restaurant.”
Ice Cream + More
According to the Tiki Taco-loving pair: “It’s the best shaved ice in town. [Our] favorite flavor is egg custard. Treat yourself.”
What to drink: Everyday Kombucha + Baltimore’s Wild Bay Kombucha
Area photographer Tony Powell is all about a couples massage followed by a vegan dinner — then an overnight stay in a D.C. hotel to support tourism.
What to drink: JRINK Juicery, Puree Juice Bar, Joe + the Juice
Laura Silverman, non-alcoholic beverage expert and community builder, is the founder of Booze Free in DC and Zero Proof Nation. A UVA alumna, Laura’s lived in the DMV since 2005. She got off the sauce in 2007 and has been a devotee of the booze-free lifestyle ever since. Connect with Laura: @boozefreeindc // @zeroproofnation
Enjoy this piece? Consider becoming a member for access to our premium digital content. Support local journalism and start your membership today.