Beverage, San Francisco’s first non-alcoholic bottle store, opens near Hayes Valley

Cocktails and non-alcoholic liquor are devouring a ton of market share nationwide, and the Bay Area is doing more than its fair share of that work. Whether it’s the alcohol-free nanobar at Hawkerfare on Valencia Street or one of San Francisco’s many bars offering non-alcoholic options, the area has plenty to offer those who prefer to stay sober. New York-based non-alcoholic bottle store Boisson has taken notice and will open on or about September 26 its first store in San Francisco at 33 Hayes Street. The location is across from the Bill Graham Auditorium and the Civic Center’s Ananda Fuara Vegetarian Restaurant Cat Corner. And while Los Gatos has its own non-alcoholic bottle shop, and Outer Richmond just might have a non-alcoholic speakeasy to pair with a low-key hangout Ocean Beach Cafe, Drink marks the premier bottle and wine shop. non-alcoholic dedicated to San Francisco.

The online retailer launched in New York in 2021, and after opening five stores there and three in Los Angeles, it has set its sights on San Francisco. “Outside of the first two core markets, San Francisco was a no-brainer for us,” says Nick Bodkins, co-founder and CEO of Boisson. “We received hundreds and hundreds of emails asking when we were coming to San Francisco.” (Although the business may be looking to appeal to the sporty and athletic locals of Hayes Valley, the store is just off Market Street and at best with Hayes Valley.)

The company claims to have increased its sales seven and a half times in 2022, which is likely due in part to the fact that around half of millennials say they have reduced their drinking habits in recent years. Alcohol-free trends and products from Napa and Sonoma are of particular interest to Bodkins; the former French Laundry couple who run All The Bitters make alcohol-free primo bitters, for example. He would like Boisson to be the neighborhood store that offers these sometimes hard-to-find products.

Boisson will offer a veritable mine of wines, spirits and non-alcoholic beers.

A variety of drinks at the table.

A variety of mocktails in a Drink pop-up.

For him, the proximity to California producers making non-alcoholic wine is a big part of the motivation to come to the bay. “Actually, it’s not just grape juice,” says Bodkins. “It started with full-strength wine, and this dealcoholization process is nothing new.” Bodkin says many people don’t realize that non-alcoholic wine is actually conventionally made wine without alcohol. The process has been around for a long time, he points out, likely because of an obscure tax on wines with more than 14% alcohol, which gave winemakers a reason to artificially reduce the alcohol content of wine – although before it gets cold. Proxies is one of those non-alcoholic wines he likes, alongside Blurred Vines and distilled hemp spirit Pathfinder.

Tastings, three to five times a week, will be part of the shop’s weekly life, and Bodkins wants to invite regional and national producers to show their products, although local delivery is also an option. He says he would like to secure a series of partnerships with local restaurants and bars on file; the company’s partnership with Rosewood Sand Hill, through which Boisson supplied the luxury Menlo Park hotel with soft drinks, is an example of what Boisson will seek to develop. These relationships are well established with New York retailers Eleven Madison Park and Jose Andres’ new restaurant at the Ritz Carlton. He is also proud of the all-electric, carbon-free vehicles the company will use for deliveries. As for the inspiration for this choice, Bodkins cites being the father of an 11-month-old daughter. “My daughter wakes up at the same time, whether I’ve been drinking or not,” Bodkins says.

Drink (33 Hayes Street in San Francisco) will open the week of September 26. Hours of operation will be noon to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.

About Michael Brafford

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