Best bars for a non-alcoholic drink photo
(Hank's on the Hill by Tracy A. Woodward)

Best bars for a non-alcoholic drink

Fritz Hahn  |  Updated 12/03/2012

If you're pregnant, serving as designated driver or just don't feel like imbibing, you don't have to settle for soda or plain tonic. These bars and restaurants pour creative and delicious non-alcoholic beverages.

 

Hank's Oyster Bar

Washington, DC

Gina Chersevani is known for cocktails, but her menu at Hank's on the Hill features a number of house-made seasonal sodas. Pick a flavor, which might include blueberries or a citrusy fusion of oranges and sage, and drink it over ice, or for an extra $1 or two, turn it into a frothy malt, float or egg creme.

 

El Chucho

Washington, DC

The house-made sodas at the El Chucho taqueria have Mexican influences but global appeal: A bracing spicy pineapple, a blend of savory coconut milk with the gentle bite of kaffir lime, and a surprisingly refreshing cafe del ollo that tastes like a fizzing cold version of the sweetly spiced Mexican coffee. For the younger set, mixologist Gordon Banks recommends the lemon-lime soda naturally sweetened with agave: the drink of choice for "every person under 10 who comes in here."

 

Green Pig Bistro

Arlington, VA

Andrew Shapiro makes some of the most delectable seasonal sodas around: Sipping the French melon soda, you're struck by the unmistakable smell of a fresh-picked cantaloupe, because the only ingredients are melon, sugar "and a touch of anise flower to cut the sweetness." His uncomplicated soda flavors -- hibiscus and lemon, blueberry and kaffir lime -- let the natural flavors shine through, accentuated by the pleasant fizz of carbonated water.

 

Estadio

Washington, DC

Some of most clever and creative cocktails in the D.C. scene come from Adam Bernbach, who's known for his inventive use of dried fruit and herbs. Look at the cocktail menu, where ingredients in some items include thyme soda or elderflower citrus tonic. All of those can be used as the base of refreshing and esoteric non-alcoholic drinks, too. They're not listed separately on the menu and they're not designed to be served solo, but bartenders are happy to use them to create something new.

"Because we have so much in the way of different flavors of tonics and sodas in house, and we use a series of herbs and ginger, we can pretty much sculpt anything" to a customer's taste, Bernbach says.

 

Firefly

Washington, DC

Jonathan Harris's "Zero Proof" menu features booze-free twists on on old classics. The "Gin and Tonic" is made with a spicy "gin soda" with a rich tonic syrup, while the "Cosmo" gets its taste from orange flower water, grenadine and fresh fruit juices.

 

Graffiato

Washington, DC

Graffiato's house-made sodas are rich and flavorful, and the rotating flavors are rarely subtle. The 5 Spice Ginger Beer -- used in several of the bar's cocktails -- is pungent with plenty of kick. Asian Pear and Black Peppercorn Cider offers a great balance between heat and sweet.

 

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