These days, many Americans are moving away from alcoholic beverages—specifically, Gen Zers, who are reportedly consuming 20 percent less alcohol than previous generations. (Sleepy Girl mocktail, anyone?) And according to a study from the University of Michigan, the percentage of college-age adults—you know, those historically in their prime partying years‚ has grown from 20 to 28 percent over the last two decades, a University of Michigan study found.
In place of cocktails, people are turning toward healthier and less headache-inducing drinks. Bartenders have noticed, and Sarasota is keeping in step with this trend. Today, many of our bars and restaurants tailor drink lists to cater to those who are sober and others who might just be “sober curious.” Here’s a list of our current favorite offerings.
1445 2nd St., Sarasota, (941) 487-7874, 99bottles.net
99 Bottles is no stranger to non-alcoholic selections, with an extensive list of nonalcoholic wines and even a French 75 mocktail on tap. The non-alcoholic beer list is one to behold, as well. On one recent visit, the Mango Cart beer from Golden Road Brewing had a round mango nose with crisp acidity followed by more mango creeping through in its finish. Fantastic.
Florence and the Spice Boys
4990 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 923-9920, instagram.com/florenceandthespiceboys
Florence and “the boys” are killer at throwing unexpected flavor combinations your way, and the mocktail list at this Israeli and Mediterranean-influence establishment are no exception. The non-alcoholic lavender margarita (pictured above) is as floral as it is tart, with a beautiful pinky-purple hue thanks to the addition of butterfly pea.
1920 Hillview St., Sarasota, (941) 444-7692, meliorarestaurant.com
The bartending team here stays busy tinkering with infusions and botanicals to keep zero-octane drinks exciting. And the extensive wine list includes non-alcoholic wines that actually taste fantastic, expecially the Lyre’s Classico Sparkling, which could easily be mistaken for a traditional prosecco.
1001 Cocoanut Ave., Sarasota, (941) 212-2622, turmericsarasota.com
For some mango-infused fun, try the mango lassi at Turmeric. The traditional Indian yogurt-based drink almost sips like a milkshake and is perfect when you’re looking for a sweet treat. But if you’d rather something a little lighter, the coconut cooler will leave you craving its coconut water and orange juice-based goodness.
State Street Eating House + Cocktails
1533 State St., Sarasota, (941) 951-1533, statestreetsrq.com
State Street Eating House + Cocktails takes a more spur-of-the-moment approach when compared to other spots on this list. Instead of offering a set list of mocktails, the staff asks guests to tell them the flavor profile they’re looking for. Sweet and smoky, bright and citrusy or even whiskey-evoking are excellent descriptors when speaking with State Street’s skilled bartenders. You can also ask them to surprise you if you’re feeling indecisive.
300 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota (941) 388-2888, tommybahama.com
This corporate restaurant chain has solidified its place in our hearts through its willingness to shake up its menu every now and again. The mocktail list is no exception—and it’s sublime. The “pain chiller” is a clever riff on the classic painkiller cocktail that has plenty of coconut and pineapple with none of the morning-after consequences. Or try a cranberry refresher (made with cranberry, ginger beer and mint) while you watch the crowds from the upstairs patio bar stools.
Summer Tap Juice Bar
411 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, (941) 993-1449, summertapjuicebar.com
Sometimes you may not be looking for a bar environment while enjoying a sip of something wonderful. For a full non-alcoholic experience, try Summer Tap Juice Bar. There, owner Galina Naguibine and her team will press fresh fruit into an infinite array of flavor combinations, based on your every whim. The “savory tomato” is a great bloody Mary replacement, and the “seasonal star fruit” is the stuff of dreams. Plus, Summer Tap is open until 7 p.m., so you can still get a nightlife feel without getting elbowed by an over-served patron.