The country’s only dry bar has opened in the heart of Wairarapa wine country, amid a surge in popularity of booze-free beverages.
Production of zero alcohol beer has quadrupled in the past year, as the number of New Zealanders preferring to go sober rises.
Unleaded is a pop-up bar in Greytown, on trial for the summer selling alcohol free gin, wine and beer.
Founder and local businessman Adam Blackwell said he decided to set up a dry bar when the council said it wouldn’t issue a liquor licence as there are already enough watering holes in the wine town.
“People just love it. They are kind of surprise initially and maybe a little bit speculative, but once they taste it, they are usually back for a second round,” said Adam Blackwell.
Linda Allen, who has an allergy to alcohol, said it was great to have more options than orange juice or water.
“I can actually go out and look like I’m having a drink, without people saying ‘you’re so boring’ when you don’t drink,” said Allen.
Nearly 80 per cent of Kiwis say they have a drink, but the number is on a downward trend with three percent giving up in the past year.
A dry bar was tried and failed in Auckland seven years ago. But since then, there’s been an explosion in zero alcohol drinks. In the year to June 2021 alcohol-free beer production surged by 322 per cent.
The alcohol beverages council said one major liquor retailer has added 50 “no or low” alcohol products to its stores. The council’s executive director Bridget MacDonald said low or zero alcohol drinks had become more socially acceptable.
Alcohol free advocates are keen to see spaces like Unleaded become the norm.
“If you create these places and have them for people, then it will encourage more people to do things differently, especially the younger generation,” said Claire Robbie the founder of No Beers? Who Cares!