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Food & Drink

Dry January? San Francisco’s best bars for nonalcoholic drinks

close up of a mocktail
Founder Joshua James mixes a non-alcoholic cocktail at Ocean Beach Cafe, San Francisco’s preeminent bar and bottle shop for the NA crowd. | Source: Brian Feulner for The Standard

It’s hardly a secret: People simply drink less alcohol than they used to. The Gen Z cohort, in particular, boozes it up even less than those supposedly wellness-obsessed millennials—unless they live in the hard-partying Presidio, that is. San Francisco bartenders have long realized this trend and begun developing menus to appeal to demographics that want an enjoyable experience without a hangover.

Whether you’re in recovery, doing that Dry January thing or just eager to try something different from time to time, the city’s craft cocktail bars have moved far beyond boring old bitters-and-sodas or saccharine, uninspired “mocktails” like a ginger limeade. Here are the best places for a nonalcoholic drink in San Francisco right now.

Trick Dog

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. Trick Dog, perennially ranked among the world’s best cocktail bars, famously changes up its drink menu every six months. For Josh Harris, the Mission hot spot’s sober founder, it’s important to integrate nonalcoholic drinks into the menu rather than isolate them as a standalone category. They also have names that can’t be distinguished from standard cocktails, all part of the effort to destigmatize the act of ordering and enjoying an NA beverage—of which Trick Dog currently has several.

The “Puppy Pose,” on the outgoing, yoga-focused “Tantrick Dog” menu, is made with two nonalcoholic spirits (Wilderton Lustre and Seedlip Garden 108) along with wheatgrass, probiotic yogurt, lemon and grapefruit zest. Essentially a clarified-milk punch, it’s crystal-clear, served over one big ice cube.

“It will not be on our next menu, which launches on Jan. 8,” Harris told The Standard. “But it will be on every menu after that.”

Rich Table

Chefs Sarah and Evan Rich have been stalwarts of Hayes Valley’s impressive food scene for well over a decade, serving elegant, rarefied comfort food. Or, as the menu says, “Go to the market, see what’s good and cook it.”

Along with seasonal dishes like a chicory salad or tagliatelle with white truffles, Rich Table has an extensive cocktail selection designed to warm people up on a chilly evening. Currently, there are two NA options available, the Quince-Essential (with white peppercorn, pine-smoked tea, cardamom, quince and half-and-half) and the Pear Necessities (verjus, pear, ginger, applesauce and maple foam).

a dive bar patio by day
Customers enjoy drinks on the back patio at Casements bar on Mission Street. | Source: Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images


Patrons can always get an Andytown cold brew coffee or a Topo Chico at the Mission’s terrific Casements, the not-quite-an-Irish bar, not-quite-a-queer-bar with an amazing enclosed rear patio. But the proper nonalcoholic cocktail list has a few well thought-out hits, including the effervescent We Want a Shrubbery, created from a housemade pea-and-strawberry shrub, simple syrup, lemon and sparkling water.

There’s always the option of an Irish coffee without the Irish, suitable for sipping in front of the mural of mouthy Irish drag legend Panti Bliss.


Divisadero Street in the Western Addition remains one of San Francisco’s most dynamic neighborhoods to eat and drink, and Horsefeather has been home to serious mixology since it opened in early 2016. 

Signaling that NA drinks merit an equal amount of labor as their boozier counterparts, the Spruced Up is made from a white aperitif, a foraged spruce-tip tea cordial, bay laurel and alcohol-free sparkling wine, garnished with burnt rosemary. You’ll be hard-pressed to find something more herbaceous than that. 


One of 2023’s sexiest new arrivals on the scene is this Fillmore District Indian restaurant that specializes in the cuisines of the subcontinent’s tropical south. In addition to a number of vegan dishes, Copra also has a significant NA cocktail program, with three standouts designed to appeal to the widest range of palates.

Perky yet cooling, the Salty City is a mix of coconut yogurt, cucumber, salt, black garlic and lemon, while the Tiger’s Eye is a beguiling combination of cinnamon, star anise, lemon, Wilderton Lustre and a bittersweet aperitivo. Lastly, the Orange Ruby makes Manhattan-esque magic out of lemongrass, Wilderton Lustre, the nonalcoholic vermouth Vibrante, orange blossom and tonic, along with a makrut lime leaf.

Bright red sign says LOOKOUT on building storefront
Lookout is one of the best-loved LGBTQ+ bars in the Castro, and its current NA cocktail is among the city's more affordable. | Source: Astrid Kane/The Standard


The Castro is an area of the city where vodka-cran will probably always reign supreme. But the most buoyant upstairs bar in the gayborhood makes creative space for LGBTQ+ friends and allies who choose to abstain.

The NA Paloma Mansa (translation: Gentle Dove) brings together Tres Agaves syrup, Fever Tree grapefruit soda and lime juice, served in a pint glass with a salted rim. It sounds decadent enough to be served en masse at Lips & Lashes, Lookout’s raucous drag brunch. Best of all, it’s an eminently reasonable $9.

Bar Iris

More than half the cocktails on this Polk Street Japanese-style bar’s list can be made without alcohol, a testament to how inclusiveness was a guiding principle in their creation. As the companion to the one-Michelin-starred restaurant next door, Nisei, Bar Iris is a clever, creative spot that gives all nightlife enthusiasts a reason to feel welcome.

Among the most intriguing—and beautiful—drinks are the Granny Smith-focused Faithful Fool and the cranberry-dominant Red Castle.

Ocean Beach Cafe

The granddaddy of San Francisco’s alcohol-free nightlife is almost certainly Joshua James’ 3-year-old Ocean Beach Cafe on La Playa Street in the Outer Richmond. As both a bar and a bottle shop, it’s where to stock up on supplies to build out a nonalcoholic home bar cart while sitting down for “Temperance Tastings” and NA mixology classes. 

Here, alcohol-free cocktails are the star, with no fewer than seven in all, in addition to a full coffee-and-tea situation. Beyond variations on a martini and a French 75, Ocean Beach Cafe is at the forefront of alcohol replacements that don’t aspire to be consolation prizes, but fun options to explore in their own right. James is focused on adaptogens and nootropics that may impart a different kind of buzz. And there’s always the fantastically named Destroyer of Bad Vibes, made with Melati Classic, the Pathfinder, honey, lemon, All the Bitter Orange and cinnamon.

Astrid Kane can be reached at