May 16, 2022 - Food and Drink

We tried Columbus' first "sober bar"

The front entrance to The Dry Mill, "The Sober Bar of Columbus"
The entrance to The Dry Mill at 79 S. 4th St., which opened April 30. Photos: Tyler Buchanan/Axios

The Dry Mill feels like a standard sports bar at first glance, but a closer look offers hints of a different type of vibe.

  • The bartender serves up water without asking. The bathroom offers mints and mouthwash.
  • Most notably is the sign on the entrance door: "No alcohol beyond this point."

Driving the news: Columbus' first "sober bar" held its long-awaited grand opening two weeks ago on Fourth Street near Capitol Square.

Why it matters: The Dry Mill has already proven popular among the region's non-drinking community as well as patrons interested in checking out the unique business.

👋 Tyler here. I stopped in for a bite to eat between reporting trips downtown.

  • Lunchtime has been quiet these first few weeks, aside from workers from nearby businesses and the YWCA.
  • Things pick up during evenings and the past two weekends have been, in the words of the kitchen manager, "killer."
A sweet potato quinoa burger, fries and a non-alcoholic cocktail at a bartop.
A sweet potato quinoa burger, fries and a non-alcoholic cocktail at The Dry Mill.

On the menu: A wide variety of zero-ABV beers, energy drinks, teas and alcohol-free cocktails.

  • On the bar manager's recommendation, I tried the Island Breeze, a beach-themed blend of passion fruit, pomegranate, ginger, guava, coconut and Sprite.
  • At no point did it make me yearn for alcohol — I just appreciated a delicious cold drink on another 80-degree day.
  • I also ordered a sweet potato quinoa burger, thinking it would be fitting to wash down a non-alcoholic drink with a non-meat burger. It was divine.

The bottom line: Come for the novel experience, stay for the welcoming environment and solid menu offerings.

  • And you might want to come sooner than later. I predict it'll be packed when the word starts to get out.

If you go: 11am-11pm daily, 79 S. 4th St. Closed Tuesday.

A framed photo on a bar's wall showing beer being poured out during Prohibition.
A fitting framed photo just inside The Dry Mill's entrance.
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