A new shop all about nonalcoholic drinks opened in Austin last summer. Dear Dry Drinkery, found in the Holly neighborhood neighborhood at 2226 East Cesar Chavez Street, opened in August 2023.
Co-founders and husband-and-wife Joe Patterson and Grace Vroom began Dear Dry as a way of offering a new option for nonalcoholic drinking in Austin. Vroom decided to become sober in 2016 and Patterson supported her by doing the same. They didn’t like how most available nonalcoholic drinks at bars and shops weren’t as creative as alcoholic drinks. Vroom worked at tech startups and real estate companies and Patterson was in the corporate planning field. “In these roles, we’ve seen firsthand at countless receptions, happy hours, team building activities, conferences, etc., just how pervasive drinking culture can be and how in these environments, often little consideration is given to folks who are choosing not to partake in drinking alcohol,” Patterson writes to Eater over email.
They tried securing a space for Dear Dry Drinkery three years ago, but, as Vroom explains, “landlords who wouldn’t rent to us because they didn’t think the concept would ever work.” So they started as a trailer bar and shop in February 2023 in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood at the South First Food Court. They sold canned and bottled nonalcoholic beverages and mixed up nonalcoholic cocktails through that June. Then they were able to secure the physical East Austin space.
At the shop, the two curate their offerings through their own preferences and recommendations from friends and the community. “Ultimately, it’s important to us that we don’t pack our shelves with every single nonalcoholic beverage that exists,” Vroom writes to Eater. “We know it can be overwhelming for most to be introduced to so many of these types of drinks all at once — we’re here to help folks navigate with the best of what’s available right now.”
Dear Dry Drinkery’s shelves are full of nonalcoholic spirits, wines, and beers. The stock includes many popular brands such as Ghia aperitifs and spritzes, St. Agrestis’s bottled Negronis, Ritual’s spritis like rum, tequila, and whiskey, Athletic Brewing beers, and Oddbird wines.
“Neither Joe nor I enjoy drinking Negronis,” Vroom writes to Eater, “but when the staff at Bufalina tells us the Phony Negroni is impeccable, we listen.” They’ve also hosted tastings with sober bartenders Robert Bjorn Taylor and Paige Danoff.
People are able to browse and buy products at the shop or online. There’s a comfortable lounge with a couch, chairs, books, and games too, for people who want to drink at the shop. It also hosts events, ranging from crafting to nonalcoholic cocktail classes. The business also offers nonalcoholic event bartending services.
“he biggest challenge we face is convincing people that non-alcoholic drinks can be as tasty and enjoyable as alcoholic ones,” explains Patterson. “Just because a beverage is alcohol-free doesn’t mean it lacks richness, complexity or creative flavors.”
Dear Dry Drinkery’s hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and then from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.