Bottles and glassware are neatly arranged on the back bar. Coolers are stocked with beverages. The ice machine is loaded and ready to go. The place looks exactly like a tavern or cocktail lounge.
The only difference at Inmoxicated, 329 Main St. in Downtown Racine, is that none of those bottles and cans contain alcohol. That’s by design, says owner Shannon Goodman.
Final remodeling touches – electrical work, plumbing, etc. – are being put on what will be the Racine area’s first bar specializing in alcohol-free drinks, or mocktails. A December 3 opening is planned, just in time for Downtown’s monthly First Fridays event. But that is also dependent on permit approvals.
Inmoxicated’s hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 2 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
Goodman, who has worked in social work, says the no-alcohol bar concept stems from her desire to “normalize not drinking.”
“This idea came from people I was in contact with. Over and over, there was this issue of them not wanting to drink, but having few available options,” she says.
Jeff Gustin, Goodman’s partner, who will be Inmoxicated’s manager and bartender, knows the situation as well. He has experience in the bar business. “There have been times I’ve been out and not drinking. Try being the only sober person at midnight,” he says.
That scenario will change with Inmoxicated. Gustin says the bar will have TVs, darts, bar snacks and a pool table. “We want to deliver a fun, upbeat atmosphere just like any tavern you’ll walk into,” he says.
“The big thing is connection. It can be hard for people to find someplace comfortable if they don’t drink,” adds Goodman. “We hope to change that.”
Plans for the bar have been in the works for several months but became official when Goodman completed the paperwork for Inmoxicated LLC and offer retail carryout sales of non-alcoholic beverages, including liquors, wines, beers, mixers and gourmet sodas.
Along with the details of launching a business venture, the two have been kept busy finding high-quality ingredients to produce mixed drinks.
“We’ve been playing around with different things. We’re trying a lot of things out on friends,” says Goodman.
Gustin adds that the mixology for mocktails can be challenging. That’s because the ingredients used to flavor liquor alternatives – such as pepper – require exact measurements to produce a drink that tastes as good or better than one made with alcohol.
“We’re here to mix a great-tasting drink that’s really well made,” he says. Gustin and Goodman each have a mocktail favorite. For Gustin, it’s a Tequila Sunrise while Goodman likes an Espresso Martini.
Inmoxicated’s specialty drink list is still being developed. Goodman and Gustin anticipate that the bar’s mixed-drink pricing will be on par with alcohol drinks offered by traditional bars.
The front of the business holds shelves already stocked with no-alcohol wine and liquor alternatives. Some of the wine alternatives are flavored teas. One of the fancier varieties – intended to celebrate special occasions – is carbonated and contains gold flakes.
Goodman expects to stock about 100 to 150 alcohol-free beverage products.
Goodman says she’s encouraged by a trend among worldwide beverage producers to have no-alcohol alternatives. Fabled Irish brewer, Guinness, recently introduced a no-alcohol beer (not yet available in the US). A brand called Ceria is a no-alcohol beer that closely resembles the taste of Blue Moon.
The timing for Inmoxicated may be right.
The Associated Press reports that “sober bars” first appeared in the 19th century as part of the temperance movement. But “the newer venues welcome the sober as well as the curious.”
IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, a London-based data and analysis service of the global beverage alcohol market, reports that consumption of low- and no-alcohol drinks rose 1 percent during 2020 in 10 key global markets, including the United States, Germany, Japan and Brazil.
The US is the world’s second-largest market for no/low-alcohol products, IWSR reports. The growth path is projected to continue through 2024.
IWSR research found that among the factors behind the popularity of no-alcohol alternatives are: users wanting to avoid the effects of drinking alcohol, reducing their alcohol intake, seeking an alternative when driving, making a healthy lifestyle choice and liking the taste.
Goodman says she’s just looking forward to creating a welcoming, comfortable place for people to gather.
The Inmoxicated website, inmoxicated.com, is expected to go live in the near future.