Fresh off the holidays, a season soaked in eggnog and buttered rum, January offers a healthy reset for the new year. For many, this includes taking a month off from alcohol, but regardless of whether or not you’re imbibing, Dry January doesn’t have to equate to Bland January.
Nowadays, non-alcoholic cocktails are a booming business, spurred by an increased interest among customers who are sober, sober-curious or just looking for a more balanced lifestyle, sans hangover. A far cry from the syrupy Shirley Temples of yore, non-alcoholic cocktails can be as interesting and flavorful as their boozy brethren, especially when sipped at one of these Oklahoma City bars that specialize in the spirit-free genre.
Sailor & The Dock
A newbie on the bar scene, Sailor & The Dock also happens to be a drinking destination unlike any other. For one, it’s far more than a mere bar — the lofty, garage-like space in West Village is also an events venue and incubator space for independent makers and businesses. Which means, in addition to the bar, the “dock” is also outfitted with a coffee shop, a vintage shop, a bookstore and more. The bar itself, anchored by a salvaged sailboat from Lake Hefner in the middle of the floor, specializes in non-alcoholic cocktails made from fresh juices, fruits, spices and herbs. Try the Hibiscus Fizz with orange, spiced agave, and lemon, or the Apple Fist Mule (photo above by Ligia Espinoza) with lime, agave and ginger beer. For founder Hamid Pezeshkian, a native Oklahoman who co-owns an orchard in California, it’s an opportunity to showcase seasonal ingredients while keeping balance and wellness front-and-center, without sacrificing flavor.
Low-key home to some of the most inventive cocktails in Oklahoma City (e.g. the Butter Me Up has citrus vodka, pimento dram, sorghum syrup and apple butter), Milo in The Ellison also serves some of the city’s most refined mocktails as well. Cozy up at the bar, or in the adjoining lounge, and order the Velvet Sunset, a beautiful deep-purple drink with lime, orange and house-made chicha. Another one is the Spiced Pear Quencher, which adds pear-balsamic syrup to lemon-splashed soda.
Billing itself as a modern interpretation of a neighborhood pub, there’s something inherently welcoming, warm and comforting about Red Rooster. The kind of place that offers something for everyone, its neighborhood ethos extends through the esoteric beverage program to include an ever-changing assortment of fresh mocktails. Designed to fit the season, alcohol-free drinks change regularly and can run the gamut from a chai-spiced Old Fashioned riff to a spring-y blend of berries, basil and lemon. The bar goes above-and-beyond to also include a selection of alcohol-free wines, beers and bottled cocktails.
When the restaurant underwent an extensive renovation in 2022, it emerged with a spiffy new space and spiffy new menus to match — including an impressive assortment of non-alcoholic cocktails in the city. Seasonally driven and dynamic, at any given time the options at Mary Eddy's could include something like the Cloud 9 (pictured above), a rich and creamy medley of cold-brew coffee, non-dairy cream, lavender, marshmallow and chocolate; a spirit-free Mule made with butterfly pea powder, peach, lemon, honey and ginger beer; or the New Moon, a fragrant blend of non-alcoholic aperitif, Meyer lemon black tea, cinnamon and lemon oil.
Located in the iconic Tower Theatre, Ponyboy has long reigned as one of Oklahoma City’s foremost cocktail bars, exhibiting an endless penchant for ingenuity, craft and dexterity. Such skill also makes it one of the best bars for non-alcoholic libations. While the drink list doesn’t sport dedicated non-alcoholic cocktails, aside from a house-made sparkling lemonade with different flavor options, rest assured that the friendly and talented barkeeps are well-versed in the art of the mocktail, making this the type of place that — no matter your flavor preference — you’ll be able to snag a pitch-perfect cocktail without the booze.
“Spirits” may share top billing at Culprits, along with steak and sushi, but this swanky new Bricktown hot spot is just as adept with spirit-free. In addition to a slew of off-menu possibilities that the bartenders are able to whip up on a whim, the menu always has at least one specialty seasonal cocktail made without alcohol. Currently, said cocktail is The Clean Sink, made with ginger beer, pineapple, strawberries, agave and basil.
Riserva Bar + Tapas
A relative newcomer in Chisholm Creek, Riserva Bar + Tapas builds its brand on small plates with big, bold flavors. The same is true when it comes to potables, be it a signature cocktail or one of the zero-proof options. Of the latter, hot teas and alcohol-free beer are joined by the likes of the Silk Road, a fizzy drink with lavender, cinnamon, pistachio, nutmeg and cream and the My Big Fat Greek Mocktail, which contains lemon, hibiscus tea syrup, hibiscus foam and a spice-infused non-alcoholic gin called Abstinence Cape Spice.
Another standout for seasonal non-alcoholic cocktails is FRIDA Southwest, a Paseo District destination where the drinks are as photogenic as the decor and the cuisine. Among the most reputable places in town for a singular cocktail, the same holds true for FRIDA’s mocktails. Current examples include the Never Gonna Give You Up (pictured above), with house-made grenadine, cranberry juice, lemon juice and Topo Chico and the Celery Stalks at Midnight, a quasi-Bloody Mary with tomatillo-celery water, jalapeño, black peppercorn, lime and Topo Chico.
Jimmy B’s Culinary & Krafted
Drinks are as much a focus as the globe-trotting food menu at Jimmy B’s Culinary & Krafted, an Automobile Alley destination that specializes in everything from sushi rolls to steak frites. The cocktails here are gorgeous and whimsical, like the Panda Milk with coconut rum, taro and vanilla cream, but don’t sleep on the mocktails either. Like the aptly dubbed Panda Cub, which omits rum for a purple-hued blend of taro, coconut, simple syrup and cream.
Stonecloud Brewing Co.
Beyond cocktail bars, honorary mentions on the booze-free front should go to OKC’s ever-inventive craft brewery scene, which has poured concerted efforts into offering non-alcoholic options of late. Chief among them, Stonecloud Brewing Co. makes a line of alcohol-free seltzer-like drinks called Fuzzy Rabbit, which are phenomenal. Flavors include mojito and pink lemonade, made from a sparkling hop water base and not only devoid of alcohol, but also rich in antioxidants and electrolytes — so this is one happy hour you can feel good about.