When they ventured out, they realized that navigating the low-key bar and restaurant scene can be a sobering experience.
“If you go to New York and sit down, there’s a whole section” of non-alcoholic choices, Angie DiMeo recently said on the Rhode Island Report podcast. “I really want this to happen in Providence.”
Some restaurants have mobilized.
To Khaki, a chef-run fine dining establishment in east Providence, dining and bar manager Kevin O’Connor said the restaurant began transforming its cocktail menu when he left Bristol in 2016. They have moved from a free format which is more measured and artisanal, introducing new spirits which were not always readily available (or in demand) in the suburbs. Before the pandemic, in 2018, O’Connor said it started adding “neutral cocktails” to its regular bar menu, unlike many other bars that have separate menus for their zero-proof drinks.
“The idea was to create a list where everyone could read it on the bar menu, where it was accessible and it wasn’t a separate ‘simplified’ version like a kids’ menu,” O’Connor said. . “Anyone who comes to order a neutral cocktail should be able to have the same experience as someone who orders a cocktail.”
Persimmon diners can order any of the restaurant’s house cocktails “neutral”, i.e. without alcohol. This includes the house favorite, passion fruit margarita (usually a liqueur of tequila blanco and passion fruit chinola), or the bubbly cucumber tendril (usually made with an organic prairie cucumber vodka) . They use top zero-proof brands such as of the lyre, which sells non-alcoholic alternatives to absinthe, Cointreau, gin, Campari and rum. Kaki also offers I am products — from Ginish and tonic at the SpritzIsh – in Copenhagen. And they offer beer from two rootsa non-alcoholic brewery in San Diego.
Offering zero-proof cocktails can be a crucial part of emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tragedies can lead to increased drinking and binge drinking, says a study conducted at the Geisinger Clinic Health Research Center. The stress of adapting during the pandemic could have a similar effect.
According a study at Mass General Hospitalalcohol consumption in 2020 will result in an estimated 8,000 additional deaths from alcohol-related liver disease, 18,700 cases of liver failure and 1,000 cases of liver cancer by 2040. And changes in the alcohol consumption due to the pandemic will result in 100 additional deaths and 2,800 cases of liver failure by 2023.
From a business perspective, the expansion of the non-alcoholic menu in restaurants is also proving successful.
“It would be difficult for us to reduce one or two demographics that control [the neutral cocktails]”, O’Connor said. “Some of these guests usually drink, but don’t want to drink the moment they order a neutral cocktail. Others drink little or never. It’s a wide band.
Khaki (99 Hope St. in Providence, 401-432-7422, persimmonri.com) isn’t the only one stepping up a gear. Check out these restaurants and bars that are stepping up and bringing zero-proof cocktails to their regular bar listings.
Stoneacre Brasserie, started by two friends who started as restaurant dishwashers, is a great space known for its expansive bar and local ingredients. Try the Spice Girl (muddled jalapeño, lime, with green tea), the Oatly (cardamom, lime, ginger, and oat milk), or the Margeriter (which is made with Seedlip Grove 42a non-alcoholic spirit that is a Mediterranean-inspired blend of citrus, lemongrass and ginger). 28 Washington Square in Newport, 401-619-7810, stoneacrebrasserie.com.
Perro Salado is a Mexican-inspired restaurant on Charles Street in Newport, where cerveza like Dos Equis and Pacifico rule and tequila flights are highly recommended. But also on their menu are lighter, non-alcoholic options, such as zero-proof margaritas in various flavors, aa sour blood orange “Whiskey” using Ritual, a popular spirits substitute. They also serve non-alcoholic Lyra sparkling wine. 19 Charles Street in Newport, 401-619-4777, perrosalado.com.
In April, 345 opened in Plant City to feature the state’s first-ever vegan speakeasy. Being inclusive for all diners was the priority, while breaking stereotypes of what a plant-based establishment should look like. Executive Chef Luis Jaramillo, who has already received the prestigious Michelin Guide Plate Award for freshness for his restaurant Fifty in Manhattan, has added intimate elements throughout the culinary menu, while ensuring that the bar program does not skip any steps. Their alcohol-free cocktails include the Passion Potion, a blend of celery juice, passion fruit, their signature five-spice agave, and butterfly pea powder. Or the white wedding: chrysanthemum tea, oat milk and cocoa-coconut cordial. 345 S. Main Street in Providence, 401-347-4429, @345PlantCity.
Know of another great restaurant or bar in Rhode Island with a detailed mocktail or neutral cocktail list? Let us know by emailing [email protected]