Dry January isn’t the only time of the year to reevaluate alcohol consumption. Sober October is the autumn alternative—or added month of sobriety, if you partake in both—and one that may help reset minds and bodies before the holiday season kicks off.
But drying out doesn’t have to be a chore, or even difficult. With tons of creative non-alcoholic options, it can be an opportunity for exploration with delicious results. NA is more popular than ever: off-premise sales of non-alcoholic options hit $510 million between July 2022 and July 2023, and that doesn’t even count restaurants or bars mixing up mocktails or offering non-alcoholic wines, spirits, or beer.
If you’re interested in participating in Sober October around San Diego, there are plenty of choices, from beer to wine and beyond.
To shop for something to take home, Clos Wine Shop in University Heights carries non-alcoholic wines and spritzes alongside their extensive collection of low intervention and biodynamic wines. Certain Bottlecraft locations tend to offer a non-alcoholic option on draft occasionally, but also have myriad options of things like NA beer, kombucha, and hop water.
Creative cocktails abound across San Diego, with South Park’s Kindred and Mothership eternally perched at the top of any list. 619 Spirits in North Park also offers a slew of mocktails on their designated NA menu, including favorites like their Paloma, with passion fruit, lime, and bell pepper agave for a balanced take on the Mexican classic.
Continuing north, Polite Provisions’ beverage program has made a name for itself since 2013, featuring zero-proof cocktails on their already-voluminous menu. Their take on Ginger Beer includes ginger, peach, and allspice that’s both complex and refreshing, but for something leaning towards the tropics, try Un Poco with coconut, strawberry, chile pasilla, and lemon.
The Rose Wine Bar & Bottle Shop’s menu also includes a dedicated Zero Proof section that goes beyond (but does include) basic options like coffee, tea, and sparkling water. Not an Aperol Spritz is a convincing replacement of the iconic Italian aperitif, and the Rosso Collins uses non-alcoholic sweet vermouth with strawberry, lemon, and orgeat for a delightful sipper ideally enjoyed with a snack from their kitchen.
I can think of no better place than Ocean Beach for a kombucha taproom, and it seems Nova Kombucha would agree. Under the umbrella of Novo Brazil, Nova Kombucha creates a wide range of kombuchas—some with alcohol, some without—for the sober curious and probiotically-minded. Co-founder Tiago Carneiro says their NA Mango Pineapple is a particular crowd favorite, thanks to its balance between mango and pineapple with that familiar kombucha bite.
For non-alcoholic beer, no list would be complete without mentioning Athletic Brewing, who’s arguably leading the charge in NA beer across the U.S. Their fall seasonal Oktoberfest has already hit shelves, and their ever-increasing line of options includes light lagers, IPAs, witbiers, and tons of other styles with flavor sans booze. More local options come from AleSmith Brewing Company, who makes both an NA IPA and Stout alongside their widespread menu of standard beer offerings.