The demand for non-alcoholic beverages is way up, with Forbes reporting a seven-year boom for those seeking alternatives to traditional booze. Southern California restaurants began offering more mocktail options for diners in recent years, along with a non-alcoholic bottle shop opening in the heart of Silver Lake last October. In July, the New Bar made its debut on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice.
The New Bar owner Brianda Gonzalez grew up on Santa Catalina Island surrounded by 16 actual bars within one square mile; she landed her first hospitality gig when she was just 12 years old. A few years ago, Gonzalez’s bartender father was diagnosed with a severe autoimmune disease and was required to give up drinking alcoholic beverages.
“[Dad] and I are used to doing mixology and having these big Mexican parties with tons of food and pairings,” says Gonzalez. “That’s always been a huge part of how we gather and spend time together, so we had to rethink that. We had to go back to the drawing board and try to preserve that ceremony and that ritual that we loved so much together without negatively impacting his health.”
Gonzalez left a tech career two years ago and jumped head-first into the world of non-alcoholic spirits. She found a space, suppliers, built an audience, and opened the shop in mid-July. To provide thoughtful recommendations for customers looking to try non-alcoholic alternatives beyond O’Doul’s, Gonzalez came up with a quiz to narrow down the selection process. “We don’t assume that you like already know everything. I understand that people arrive here in different ways. We give a really intelligent filter based on your preferences, dietary restrictions, or whether you want to try a 0.0 versus 0.5 percent alcohol drink,” she says.
Customers can shop by the type of drink preferred, like a sparkling blanc de blanc, rosé brut, or a bottle by Non, where the flavors lean toward lemon and hibiscus. Or, if going to a dinner party or celebration, the New Bar has something that works — a zero-alcohol mezcal made by the company Monday.
The New Bar is not actually a bar but offers tastings multiple times each week and ample outdoor seating. If there’s a bottle sitting on the bar, Gonzalez says customers can have a sample.
The New Bar is open at 1821 Lincoln Boulevard in Venice. Hours are Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 7 p.m., Friday from noon to 8 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.