Maryland’s Guide To Zero-Proof Drinks and Options For Sober Social Drinking

Updated On: Feb. 16, 2024
4 min read
Written by:

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Zero-Proof Drinks
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    What you will learn

    • Zero-proof alcohol is like an alcoholic beverage but without the intoxicating ethanol content.
    • Legally, zero-proof alcohol may still contain 0.5% or less of alcohol by volume (ABV).
    • Maryland’s night hot spots have numerous options for where to find zero-proof alcohol and enjoy a sober night out.

    Whether it’s because of a healthy lifestyle, medical or religious reasons, celebrating Dry January, or recovery, more and more people are abstaining from alcohol while enjoying a night out at a restaurant or bar. Zero-proof drinks, which are also known as non-alcoholic drinks, are a big part of creating this experience with “mocktails” and alcohol-free spirits.

    If you’re looking for bars, restaurants, and nightclubs to have a night out while in recovery, learn more about zero-proof drinks and where you can find them in Maryland.

    What Is Zero-Proof Alcohol?

    Alcoholic beverages have an alcohol proof, which is the measure of the ethanol content – or potency. The higher the proof, the more potent the alcohol is. Alcohol proof has been on liquor labels as a matter of tradition, but the modern measurement of alcoholic content in the US is percentage alcohol by volume (ABV).[1]

    Following this labeling tradition, zero-proof alcohol is a beverage that contains no ethanol. Zero-proof alcohol goes by other names, including 0.0 spirit, plant-based alcohol alternatives, non-alcoholic beverages, and alcohol-free spirits.

    To legally be called zero-proof alcohol, it must have less than 0.5% ABV.[2] Traditional alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and spirits can range from 4% to 40%. Zero-proof alcohol was created to offer an alternative to people who don’t drink but want to enjoy experiences that typically include alcohol, such as happy hours or celebratory occasions. In the past, the only option was soft drinks or a limited selection of non-alcoholic beers, but there are currently over 120 zero-proof alcohol brands available.

    Many zero-proof alcohols are designed to mimic the flavor and sensory experience of the real spirit, such as the “burn” of whiskey – which is produced using capsaicin. Some are designed to complement the flavors of a complex cocktail with botanicals.

    Some zero-proof alcohol brands include:

    • Seedlip
    • Ritual Zero Proof
    • Spiritless Kentucky 74
    • Arkay Beverages
    • Strykk
    • Damrak Virgin
    • Zepeim Premium Beverages
    • Brooklyn Brewery
    • Heineken 0.0

    Where to Get Zero-Proof Drinks in Maryland

    Zero-Proof Drinks in Maryland

    Maryland has a lot of urban and tourism areas that are filled with bars, restaurants, and clubs – many of which are stocked with zero-proof alcohol. Here are some options to check out:

    The Bluebird Cocktail Room

    The Bluebird Cocktail Room is a Hampden hangout that sources ingredients locally and combines organic, herbal hydrosols (distilled waters from fruits) from a nearby farm with zero-proof alcohol. One of the best mocktails on the menu is the Old Sultan, a warm and spicy cocktail made with zero-proof spirits.

    Blue Pit BBQ & Whiskey Bar

    The Blue Pit BBQ & Whiskey Bar serves a lot of whiskey, but the barbecue joint offers options for zero-proof cocktails that replace the whiskey component with a high-quality non-alcohol alternative. The menu has notes on which cocktails can be served without spirits or with a low ABV option, but there are also curated mocktails like Figure It Out, a vibrant drink with apple bitters, fig, balsamic, and a gin alternative.

    Clavel

    The Clavel in Remington is renowned for its tacos and queso fundido, but it also serves an array of inspired mocktails. The Suero combines Topo Chico with lemon and a pinch of sea salt, while the Sandia Madura uses watermelon, lemon, basil oil, and house Tajin salt.

    Church Bar

    The Church Bar has been getting a lot of buzz for its inspired menu and zero-proof choices. Any cocktail that has a mocktail alternative is noted with a burgundy dot on the menu. The Saint Brigid, which has grapefruit, ginger, and lime, and the Lamplighter, a mix of cardamom and cold brew, are two favorites.

    Duck Duck Goose

    Duck Duck Goose offers one of the best French dining experiences in Baltimore, as well as a range of cocktails that use Seedlip’s premier zero-proof alcohols. The Mandarine du Sud is a local favorite that brings together Seedlip citrus, tangerine, egg whites, pistachio, and lime.

    Dutch Courage

    Dutch Courage is a bar mostly focused on gin, but it features plenty of non-alcoholic options like the N.A. Groni is a twist on a traditional groni made with botanical gin syrup, orange bitters, and jasmine-flavored kombucha. Another favorite is the Rocky Road, a combination of orange bitters, dark chocolate, and a giant toasted marshmallow.

    The Food Market

    The Food Market is a haven for comfort food that offers a long zero-proof menu. The Gucci Lemonade is one of the best around and blends blueberry, fresh mint, and lemongrass. Another option is a mocktail with grapefruit juice, Sprite, agave nectar, and thyme.

    Guinness Open Gate Brewery

    Despite the name, the Guinness Open Gate Brewery brews delicious low-ABV beer. You could also purchase Guinness 0, which is designed to taste smooth and bitter, like Guinness Draft, without the alcohol.

    Can People in Recovery Drink Zero-Proof Alcohol?

    While zero-proof alcohol is a good alternative for people in recovery, it’s not the best choice for everyone. These beverages try to replace the sensory experience of drinking alcohol, including the flavors and smells, so it can trigger some people to try the real thing.

    For some, it’s not about the alcohol itself but the environment. If being around alcohol will be a trigger for you in recovery, even if you’re not drinking alcohol, zero-proof alcohol can be an issue.[3]
    Another concern is that not all zero-proof alcohol is truly alcohol-free. Some brands avoid alcohol at any point, either in production or the finished product. Others may use alcohol to create certain flavors or qualities, but then it’s removed before the final product hits the shelves.

    Some zero-proof alcohol is not truly zero, either. Legally, zero proof can be anything below 0.5%, which won’t get anyone intoxicated, but it’s still not technology zero. Just those trace amounts of alcohol may be a trigger for some people, just as it is with cough medication or mouthwash.

    It’s important to thoroughly understand your own triggers before you try zero-proof alcohol. You should also bring a sober friend along the first time to ensure that you stay on track with your sobriety while experimenting with zero-proof options.

    Experience Maryland Nightlife

    Just because you’re avoiding alcohol doesn’t mean you have to avoid fun. Maryland has plenty of options for zero-proof drinks that are just as enticing as a real cocktail, so you can have the social experience without the negative health effects. For more intense support, consider professional treatment and support. At Alpas Wellness, we’re here to answer any questions and provide all the resources you need to be successful in your sobriety.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Zero-Proof Drinks

    01

    Why Was Zero-Proof Alcohol Created?

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    Zero-proof alcohol is designed to create more exciting non-alcoholic alternatives than soft drinks for people who don’t drink. A lot of social events involve alcohol, such as happy hours, weddings, and work events, and zero-proof alcohol allows people to have a “mocktail” without feeling odd or left out.

    02

    Is Zero-Proof Alcohol Really Alcohol-Free?

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    Some zero-proof alcohol has truly zero alcohol, but others may have trace amounts or may use alcohol in the production process. Very little alcohol makes it to the finished product either way, but it’s important to check labels. Some zero-proof alcohol is under 0.5% ABV, but it does have some alcohol.

    03

    Does Zero-Proof Alcohol Taste Real?

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    Some zero-proof alcohol tastes a lot like the spirit it’s mimicking, such as gin or whiskey. Non-alcohol beer often has a beer-like taste with hops, but it lacks the alcoholic content of regular beer. Other zero-proof alcohol brands aren’t trying to imitate a spirit. Instead, they use plant botanicals to complement the other flavors in mocktails.

    Sources
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    [01]

    [1] MediLexicon International. (n.d.). What does the proof of alcohol mean?. Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-does-the-proof-on-alcohol-mean#:~:text=Proof%20is%20a%20measure%20of,40%25%20ABV%20is%2080%20proof on 2023, December 18.
    [2] What are zero alcohol drinks?. What are zero alcohol drinks? – Alcohol and Drug Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://adf.org.au/reducing-risk/alcohol/zero-alcohol-drinks/what-zero-alcohol/ on 2023, December 18.
    [3] Caballeria, E., Pons-Cabrera, M. T., Balcells-Oliveró, M., Braddick, F., Gordon, R., Gual, A., Matrai, S., & López-Pelayo, H. (2022, September 22). “doctor, can I drink an alcohol-free beer?” low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks in people with heavy drinking or alcohol use disorders: Systematic review of the literature. Nutrients. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9571501/ on 2023, December 18.

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