Bar + Bottle Shop – Alcohol = Curiosity. I’ve never been a big fan of the term “mocktail”. It literally seems to poke fun at everything I love about a good cocktail. They tend to be too sweet, fruity or bland and tasteless. More like a drink for a sugar addicted kid rather than an adult looking for something to sip and savor. Nothing like the bitter and nuanced craft cocktails that I like to taste. The promise of being able to enjoy a good cocktail without good alcohol never fully materializes. So far.
Curious? Curiosity is a new zero-proof bottle shop and bar located in the Maven district, near La Barba cafe. You won’t find a single mocktail here. Instead, Raegan Plewe and Erica Bruin, the co-owners behind the concept, have put together the perfect selection of non-alcoholic craft drinks.
Since this concept is unique to the Salt Lake City area, I asked Raegan who was entering the bar. “It’s a pretty big mix, which I like,” she said. But we really don’t want to cater only to 100% sober people. We want it to be a place to explore, wherever people are in their lives. But I guess the trend I’ve noticed is that most people who come are interested in at least asking the question or considering their well-being and health. So I think a lot of people are at different stages of this journey to understand their relationship with alcohol and what it means for their personal health journey.
When you visit Curiosity, you can buy takeout bottles to stock your home bar, or sit in the brightly colored space and enjoy a beer, wine, or thoughtful cocktail—all alcohol-free.
Quite a bar experience. With zero-proof drinks. For me, half the joy of a good cocktail is the ambiance and the tasting of a libation that I would never make at home. That’s what you get at Curiosity. The colors reminded me of a SoCal backyard patio when I walked in. All greens, pinks and blues with lots of bright tiles, retro pendant lights and lots of plants. Oh, and don’t forget the disc selection. For a bonus atmosphere.
We sat down at the irregularly shaped salmon-colored table in the middle and browsed the menu. Raegan was able to answer questions and make suggestions.
“We want to change our drinks every season, so we will offer new ones. We try to strike a good balance between the classic cocktail spinoffs that people already know they can miss because they don’t want to drink alcohol anymore. And some that are really unique, interesting flavors going on,” Raegan said.
I went straight to the Afterall Spritz as I’m a sucker for all things orange and shiny. Delivered the classic spritz way, in a wine glass with lots of ice and a slice of orange. It was a little sweet, but I got that satisfying astringent end note usually delivered by Aperol, bay leaf bitters and orange bitters.
My drinking mate went straight for a non-alcoholic Hazy IPA by Athletic Brewing Co. Cold and poured it into a glass, it was a refreshing drink on a hot day. I took a sip, but alcoholic or not, I can’t entirely fall in love with IPAs.
Yes, we could tell that these drinks were non-alcoholic. And no, it didn’t matter. They were clearly well made and we really enjoyed them.
Curiosity’s slogan is “same social habits, different ingredients”. And it turned out to be true. We were able to people watch, catch up with them, sip them and even enjoy their raw vegetable board with hummus. The hummus was freshly made with generous amounts of vegetables. A true bar experience. Next time we return I will try the chocolate board with a selection of artisan chocolate, fresh fruit and fresh honey cream.
Our next round, my date, had the Livener Margarita. Made with the margarita staples of lime juice and tajin on the rim, Livener Elixir and Organic Dho Liqueur turned out surprisingly ruby in color, but also delicious.
I had Man-In-A-Hat as my next cocktail because I’m a sucker for all things spicy, and I couldn’t resist the sound of the Drupefruit Habanero shrub. It had a subtle warmth that built over time, never being too tart or too spicy, like some shrubs. It was my favorite of the evening.
I asked Raegan what she’s drinking right now. “I like the Pony Boy a lot. That one tends to be more bitter, herbal, and has a hemp spirit. So it has a noticeable effect on most people, which is good. You get a slight feeling of euphoria when you drink it, but I like it because it can still be strong and punchy,” she said. “I think that’s one of the things hardest to replicate without alcohol, it’s something that would be a more traditionally alcoholic style drink, which is what I’d rather drink It’s really frustrating trying to get non-alcoholic drinks, and most of the time , there’s just a lot of juice, sparkling water or sugar. And I don’t think a lot of people know how to do anything other than that. So I like the Pony Boy because it’s very cutting edge.
Stock your own non-alcoholic bar — The call of the bottle store is to be able to buy a wide variety of non-alcoholic craft spirits. The best part? You can take advantage of their $2 installments to taste before buying an entire bottle. Be sure to check your favorites are in stock before you go as they have a rotating selection.
“We’re just looking for drinks that taste interesting [in the bottle shop] that aren’t too sweet, not really in the realm of sodas or anything like that, that can replace complex alcoholic beverages,” Raegan noted. “So we wanted to have a variety of different products. Some more replicate your traditional alcohol tastes. Beer, wine, your whiskey, alternative things like that. But then we also thought it was really important to have some that had herbal qualities and some that were just complex drinks on their own that didn’t really need to be added. be compared to anything.
I have some of Ghia APPETIZER in my fridge right now. But Curiosity has flavors in their Ghia bottle shop that I haven’t seen before. Considered “social tonics”, Ghia drinks remind me of the homemade vermouths that arrive at the table at the end of a meal in Spain. Herby, bold and sweet. Perfect for sipping rather than pulling.
I’m also a big fan of Monday spirits. Curiosity carries the full range. Monday Gin prices at the top of my non-alcoholic bar. This makes for a satisfying Gin and Tonic. I like to keep some on hand for friends who aren’t social drinkers but still enjoy a drink when they come over.
Are you sober-curious? Prefer 0% ABV? Without buzz? Or simply want to vary your cocktail routine? We would like to know what you think and how you drink.
Curious to visit Curiosity?
- Curiosity Zero Proof Bottle Shop & Bar | Website | instagram
- 145 E. 900 South, SLC, Phone: 385-259-0193
- Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Sunday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Closed on Mondays
See more stories like this and all of our food and drink coverage. And while you’re here, why not subscribe and receive six annual issues of salt lakee magazine’s guide to the best of living in Utah.
Other Stories: KEEP JANUARY DRY SIPING IN STYLE