It is no secret that Charlotte has quite the drinking scene. With nearly 40 breweries and more bars than you can count, drinking is a big part of our city’s culture.
Personally, I’ve never been a big drinker simply because I don’t like the taste of most alcohol. I’d much rather sip a Shirley Temple on the rocks with extra grenadine and a cherry on top.
No matter what your reason is for not drinking, you can still have the social experience without the alcohol.
Lots of places around the city have designated mocktail sections on their menus, and at many others, bartenders can usually make popular drinks without the alcohol.
Now, the next time you go out, you too can have a fun drink that isn’t just a fountain soda. Here are 14 spots in Charlotte that serve delicious and alcohol-free drinks.
Summit Seltzer has been getting a lot of buzz — and rightfully so. It’s the first spiked seltzer brewery and taproom on the East Coast. This means that they make the craft seltzer in-house, and as an added bonus they’re all about 100 calories or less.
Location/hours: 2215 Thrift Rd Suite B. Monday through Thursday 4-9 p.m., Friday 1-9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Order this: Grapefruit or strawberry seltzer ($4, comes with unlimited refills).
[Related Agenda Story: Spiked seltzer brewery now open with $5 draft seltzer, 100 calories or less]
In addition to being known for their crepes, Crepe Cellar should also be known for their mocktails. There isn’t a set mocktail list, but whatever the bartender whips up will be original and innovative.
Location/hours: 3116 N. Davidson St. Tuesday through Friday 5-9 p.m., Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Order this: A custom mocktail ($10). Tell the bartender the flavor profiles you’re looking for, and they’ll whip up something just for you. I ended up with a “Mr. Howard” mocktail. It was delicious.
Ingredients: Seedlip Spice 94, orange bitter, grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed lemon, and sweetener.
If you walk just a few doors down from Crepe Cellar, you’ll end up at Haberdish, a NoDa staple from the minds behind Crepe Cellar and Growlers Pourhouse. The mocktail list is small but mighty, drawing from ingredients like Cheerwine reduction, locally grown hemp, and whiskey barrel-smoked black pepper.
Location/hours: 3106 N. Davidson St. Tuesday through Friday 5-9 p.m., Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Order this: Boy’s Club ($10). I’ll say this: This drink made me realize that non-alcoholic drinks can have complexity.
Ingredients: Cheerwine reduction, baking spices, whiskey barrel-smoked black pepper, orange juice, and soda.
Dot Dot Dot is an intimate speakeasy-style bar tucked away behind Park Road Shopping Center. While you do need to be a member to gain access to the bar, non-members can order cocktail kits online for at-home bartending.
Location/hours: 4237 Park Road, B. Tuesday through Friday 5-9 p.m., Saturday 4-9 p.m.
Order this: Autumn Spice Mule ($25, makes 8 cocktails).
Ingredients: Autumn Spice Syrup, lime juice, ginger beer, dehydrated lime wheels, and cinnamon sticks.
The unique thing about Idlewild is that no drink comes out exactly the same. With no set drink menu, the drink experience is completely customized for each guest.
Location/hours: 424 E 36th St. Unit 2. Monday through Friday 5-9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 4-9 p.m.
[Related Agenda Story: Idlewild, a no-menu craft cocktail bar, opens Thursday in NoDa]
Spare your liver and supplement your digestion. Free Range Brewery has a featured kombucha on tap that rotates pretty frequently, so there’s always something new (and non-alcoholic) to try.
Location/hours: 2320 N. Davidson St. Monday through Thursday 4–10 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to 10 p.m., Sunday noon to 8 p.m.
Order this: One of their rotating kombuchas ($6). On this particular day, I had the Lavander Lemonade Kombucha by Sum Bucha.
Ingredients: Kombucha, freshly juiced lemons, lavender, chamomile, and nettle.
Bardo strikes the balance of serving sophisticated drinks and small plates while maintaining a come-as-you-are atmosphere. There isn’t an official mocktail section on the drink menu, however, guests can opt for a ‘Bartender’s Choice’ drink.
Location/hours: 1508 S. Mint St. Monday through Thursday 5-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5-11 p.m.
Order this: This one was a ‘Bartender’s Choice’ mocktail, so it doesn’t have an official name. But we’ll call it “Jry January.”
Ingredients: Raspberry syrup, San Pellegrino, freshly squeezed lime juice.
Take the elevator to the 19th floor of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel and you’ll arrive at Merchant and Trade. This swanky rooftop bar has breathtaking views of the city and overlooks Romare Bearden Park and Truist Field.
Location/hours: 303 S. Church St. (Rooftop bar hours) Wednesday through Saturday 4-9 p.m.
Order this: The Symphony ($6). Not actually on the menu, my server was kind enough to name this drink after me.
Ingredients: Muddled cucumbers, grilled strawberry puree, house-made blueberry syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice, a splash of simple syrup, and a splash of water.
After undergoing a management shift in early 2020, The Wine Loft made upfits that would be more appealing to South End’s younger demographic like an updated food menu with flatbreads, cheese boards, and small plates along with a revamped cocktail and mocktail menu that includes a rotation of seasonal drinks.
Location/hours: 2201 South Blvd #120. Tuesday through Saturday 4-11 p.m.
Order this: The Cranberry Cosmo ($6).
[Related Agenda Story: Booze has become a part of Charlotte’s identity. Now, two women are going ‘counterculture’]
If “it’s 5’O clock somewhere” was an establishment it would be Pinky’s Westside Grill. Each of the mocktail offerings sounded great, so I did what any sensible, yet indecisive person would do and ordered all three.
Location/hours: 1600 W. Morehead St., Monday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Order this: The Cherry Limeade ($2.25), but if you want to wake your taste buds up, go for the Ginger Limeade ($2.25).
Ingredients: House-made limeade as the base, and flavored syrups.
Unlike your typical bar setting, The Cellar at Duckworth’s doesn’t have a television in sight. It’s a moody, speakeasy-inspired setting with an upstairs dining room (temporarily closed due to Covid-19), and a lower level bar area.
Location/hours: 330 N Tryon St. Tuesday through Sunday 4-10 p.m.
Order this: Blackberry lemonade mocktail ($5).
Ingredients: Muddled blackberry, lemon juice, simple syrup, and a splash of water.
Here you’ll find duckpin bowling, classic arcade games, and excellent drinks all under one roof. In addition to the designated mocktail section on the menu, most drinks from the main cocktail menu can be made non-alcoholic, which is a major plus.
Location/hours: 307 W Tremont Ave. Tuesday through Friday 4-11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 11 p.m.
Order this: Juice Box Hero ($7). This drink is a tropical treat (and also makes for a cool Insta post).
Ingredients: Pineapple juice, orange juice, and grenadine.
[Related Agenda Story: Pins Mechanical Company and 16-Bit Bar+Arcade now open in South End]
Skiptown just introduced two new mocktail options to their drink menu, so now you can sip a spirit-free beverage while your pup enjoys a dog-friendly beer.
Location/hours: 222 Rampart St. Monday through Thursday 4-9 p.m., Friday 4-9:30 p.m, Saturday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Order this: Mockjito ($6).
Ingredients: Fresh lime juice, mango juice, club soda, a dash of simple syrup, and a sprig of muddled mint.
After taking a few laps around Optimist Hall, you’ll probably want something refreshing to drink. At The Spindle Bar, cocktails are their specialty, but they also have a selection of non-alcoholic drinks to quench your thirst.
Location/hours: 1115 N. Brevard St. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Order this: Flower Child.
Ingredients: Elderflower, grapefruit, Verjus, and Tonic.
Looking for more Charlotte food and drink guides? Here’s a complete list of Agenda guides including best burgers, best bars, best new restaurants, best weekly specials, best pizza, best cocktail bars, and best brunch.