Pop-up poured over new sober rocks

Adela | January 2023 | 8 minutes

On her fourth Dry January®, Adela navigates an alcohol-free night out with Alcohol Change UK and Align Events at The Shoreditch Dry

The world is changing. Booze is no longer always seen as the gateway to a good time and youngsters now have their ambitions set on far greater things then getting plastered down the pub.

And so in Shoreditch, East London a pop-up alcohol-free dry bar now seems to fit right in. Brought you by Alcohol Change UK and Align Events and sponsored by global AF drink brands Lyre's, Mocktails and Lucky Saint I made my way down there on a cold January evening.

Promising to be a cool night of Djing, mocktailing and vibing, the Great Eastern Street venue allows me to form expectations of a funky night out in the city. More so because it is based around pure and simple straight forward fun. Everyone there is interested in being present and not on the search for an induced buzz. The concept is liberating.

Lyre’s UK ambassador and ex-bartender Danny and his dapper waistcoat brought all the fun. A passionate guy, he told me that the AF category was created and driven by the consumer, which is unique as it's normally the other way round. With overwhelming demand, it has been the biggest growing sector in the drinks market in the last few years. Danny, ran and owned cocktail bars but was never really much of a drinker. In the past he always saw non-drinkers as taking up a valuable seat at his bar and never thought of them as viable customers. 'Hospitality is about giving people what they want. Good products please customers. The aesthetic in a well composed, crafted alcohol-free drink gives the same experience for all'.

Enthusiastic and effervescing Yas from Align Events gave a mocktail masterclass with mixers from her special orange marmalade shrub. The process of making shrubs is meditative for her (pouring, mixing, heating, all those delicious smells and tastes). Plus, it's kind to the environment having been grown in her Oxford Garden. It sounded to me like a formula fit for Raymond Blancs Michelin starred restaurants. A towering ball of energy; I wanted whatever mocktail she had had.

With influencers Sober Dave and Matt from better_life_guy present and a naked sober calendar on sale, this affair had all the ingredients of a traditional drunk do. We shook mocktails amongst strangers, inebriation off the cards, yet still gushing with giggles and froth.

There is a new scene in town, the crowd is cool, and creative, chatty and fearless

The night was one to remember that the drink doesn’t make the person, place or thing.

As I wondered home in the chilly night heading back to the station, I passed a pub spilling over. A man with a pint shouted out and I looked back realising he couldn’t even see me through the fizz of his beer goggles, mistaken identity or just the embarrassing facade of alcohol induced blabbering.

Was it just me or did drinking just get a little uncool? The Essex Express as I fondly call it was full to the brim of intoxicated loud punters, playing their ABBA 02 night out videos loudly with no regard to anyone or anything around them. Would they even remember their night? That’s why they missed the live action and spent their whole evening recording it, I mulled.

For to be present is to be real and my pop-up night at The Shoreditch Dry could not be accused of anything less.

Follow Align Events on Twitter here.