Aug 2, 2022 - Food and Drink

Outer Richmond's sober cafe returns after brief break

Man wearing a baseball cap with hands in pocket.
Joshua James, owner of Ocean Beach Cafe. Photo: Megan Rose Dickey/Axios

After a quick closure in June, sober social lounge Ocean Beach Cafe is back serving exclusively non-alcoholic drinks in the outer Richmond.

Why it matters: Sobriety is trendy, with some people attributing their alcohol-free lifestyles to less time spent out and about, and others to focusing on their health.

  • A couple venues across San Francisco have popped up to cater to this group.
  • Plus, there's a growing market for non-alcoholic beers, spirits and wines across the U.S.

By the numbers: In 2021, consumers spent $3.3 billion on no- and low-alcohol products, according to Nielsen.

  • From 2020 to 2021, the non-alcoholic spirits market jumped 113.4%.

What they're saying: "There's a rebranding of sobriety," Joshua James, a career bartender and owner of Ocean Beach Cafe, tells Axios. "It's going to be much more common to have non-alcoholic beverages … than there ever has been."

Details: Ocean Beach Cafe opened in January 2021, and after a hiatus, the social lounge reopened in June when people were practically "banging down the door for non-alcoholic beverages," he says.

  • James also recently opened an invite-only, private lounge called Temperance near the cafe, and uses that space to shoot non-alcoholic drink review videos, teach mixology classes and host booze-free tastings.

Be smart: Don't say "mocktails" if you take a trip to the cafe. James says he wants to leave that word in the past, as it elicits images of "sugary drinks made begrudgingly by bartenders."

  • Order the Jasmine "cocktail," with a mix of non-alcoholic gin, aperitivo, orange liqueur and fresh lemon juice.
  • 🙋🏾‍♀️, Megan here. I tried it and it's really good. 10/10.

What's next: James wants to educate other bartenders about the vast number of non-alcoholic options available, saying, "Any relevant bar and restaurant in SF needs to have some non-alcoholic options."

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