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Sober Summer: Going alcohol-free is trending in Columbus and now there’s a bar and drinks to show for it

Sober Summer: Going alcohol-free is trending in Columbus and now there’s a bar and drinks to show for it

Jack McLaughlin

For many of us trying to squeeze the most out of the last few weeks of summer, hard seltzer or a few light beers are just as much part of the equation as a swimsuit and sunscreen.

That being said, a growing number of Columbus residents are deciding to either ditch the booze entirely, or opt for low-alcohol options. 

While “low-proof” and “no-proof” cocktails have always been around, they’ve seen a recent surge in Columbus.


“I moved [to Columbus] from Louisville about three years ago, and didn’t notice much of it then,” said Jesse Hubbard, bar lead at Rye River Social. “But I’ve seen so much more alcohol-free stuff within the last few years being in Columbus.”

While Rye River Social regularly puts together low-proof items and makes no-proof cocktails on demand, no-proof cocktails have become popular enough to make their way onto the menu of many Columbus bars. The popular German Village bar Law Bird features a total of five non-alcoholic cocktails on their permanent menu.

In fact, socializing without drinks has become so popular in Columbus that an entirely alcohol-free bar is set to open in the city soon.

The Dry Mill, owned by a pair of now-sober friends David Payne and Colin Thomas, is currently securing a location yet to be announced.

Photo by Ally Schnaidt

“When we both got sober a few years ago, there was a feeling of being an outsider, and we didn’t feel like we had a safe environment where we could hang out,” Payne said. “We want to provide an environment where people feel safe and welcome without being surrounded by alcohol.”

The Dry MIll will host many of the same bar-centric activities we love on nights out, like karaoke, comedy nights (including an open mic edition), and even monthly themed parties.

The bar plans to sell local craft sodas, coffee, no-proof cocktails, and a wide variety of alcohol-free beer. This includes everything from Heineken 0.0 and Budwesier Zero, to craft options like Hairless Dog Brewing or local offerings from BrewDog, which features an impressive non-alcoholic variety.

So whether you prefer a mixed drink or a cold one (craft or otherwise), Columbus is rapidly increasing its alcohol-free offerings, with some of its hallmark purveyors openly embracing all things low-proof or no-proof.

And if you’d like to soak in the rest of the summer rays without soaking in a little bit too much booze at the same time, you’re in the right place. 

We’ll drink (a craft soda) to that.

Learn about its opening date by heading to


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