'Buzzless' beverages will be the main attraction at San Francisco non-alcoholic speakeasy

Joshua James shakes up a "Mezcal Madre"- a signature drink at Ocean Beach Café in San Francisco. But this drink, as well as all the beer, wine, mixers, and spirits at the café are 100% non-alcoholic.

James, the owner of Ocean Beach Café, quit drinking two years ago. He carries roughly 100 different types of zero-proof drinks, including craft beers and some big brand names like Budweiser.

"The non-drinker didn’t have a lot of options and they were okay with seltzer water and diet coke or whatever. And all of a sudden all these products came out," said James.

He also believes the pandemic got people the start prioritizing their health. He has noticed a huge demand for boozeless drinks, whether customers are looking to cut back, quit drinking, or are sober-curious. James now plans to open the city’s first completely non-alcoholic speakeasy. It will start as invite-only.

"There is a shift in drinking culture," said James. "And the leaders of this industry including beverage professionals and movers and shakers are going to be invited here to talk about those things."

The speakeasy will be called "Temperance Bar" after the temperance movement to limit drinking.

Across town in the mission, there’s a non-alcoholic vending machine at Hawker Fare restaurant, called a "Nanobar."  

"You scan a QR code, you walk through the prompts, and you grab a can of your choice," explained Hawker Fare General Manager Dolly Valdez Bautista. She said even though dry January is over, the dry trend has continued. "Nonalcoholic drinks right now are about 10% of our beverage sales," she said.

Nielsen data predicts "buzzless beverages" will be one of the biggest trends of 2022. Last year alone, consumers spent 3.3 billion dollars on no and low alcohol products.