There is a bar but there is no booze.
Ask the bartender for a drink and the hardest thing he'll mix is Peppermint Stick Tea.
At the Alano Club, a local gathering place for recovering alcoholics, no liquor is allowed. Though there are people at the club aged 9 to 90, its 300 members are mostly younger people who come for support, companionship, dances, daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or just to hang out.
Located in a former bar in the Spring Hill Motor Lodge in Bailey's Crossroads, the nonprofit club serves only soft drinks, gallons of coffee and snacks. But there's always a thick cloud of smoke at the Alano Club since former drinkers tend to be heavy smokers.
On the bulletin board are ads for a nondrinking roommate, a backpacking trip for club members, an AA spring dance and "Sober is Sexy" T-shirts.
"The club provides a meeting place and a mechanism for social events for newly recovering alcoholics and their families and people interested in alcoholism," said Jack Caffrey, a member of the club's board of directors who is also director of adolescent services at Step One Services, a private alcohol and drug abuse treatment center. Caffrey serves as a big brother figure to many club members, who constantly pull him aside to tell him their problems or envelop him in big bearhugs.
Members, who pay dues of $5 a month, can gather from 11 a.m. to midnight meeting friends, playing Pac Man, strumming guitars--even studying. There's a dance every Saturday night.
"This place is addicting for me," said Valerie, 17, a club member from Fairfax County who has been sober for more than a year. "I come here almost every night. Everyone is very close. Plus, you can pick up men."
"When I got sober, I got sober here," said Cathy, 20, a member from Fairfax County. "When I came here I was 18 and I didn't know how you could have fun while being sober."
Members aren't always sober when they come to the club, but people who are very drunk usually are asked to leave. Pat, 18, was only on his fourth day of sobriety last week, but he said his trips to the club were giving him support.
Jon, 27, from Arlington, said the club "keeps you in touch with why you're getting sober." He said he only goes to regular bars for a reason, like to hear a band or to dance. "But there's no reason to go to a cocktail lounge. People go there to get intoxicated."
Sometimes motel guests wander into the club by mistake. Last week, for instance, a potbellied man stumbled over to the bar. "Don't you sell beer here?" he asked.
"No," replied the bartender. "We sell sobriety."