Los Angeles is known for being a big drinking town. After all, Hollywood is the center of the entertainment industry, so it makes sense that partying is a way of life for most Angelenos. But sober life in LA is incredibly vibrant; a common saying is that "half the city is drinking and the other half is sober". We'll go over everything there is to know about Los Angeles' drinking history, where to find the best mocktails in LA, and all of the fun sober things to do in the City of Angels.
A History Of Drinking In Los Angeles
The California wine industry started with the California Missions in Los Angeles. The very first California wine was made from Spanish grapes at the San Juan Capistrano Mission in 1778. Initially produced for religious purposes, the missionaries quickly began selling the wine.
A Frenchman named Jean-Louis Vignes opened California's first non-religious winery in 1831. Named "El Aliso" after a large sycamore tree that grew on the property, the winery exported wine to Santa Barbara, Monterey and San Francisco. Because Los Angeles summers proved too hot to store certain alcohols, most wine production ended up moving to Northern California after the Civil War.
Downtown LA became a hotspot for breweries opened by German and Bavarian immigrants. The first brewery was called the New York Brewery, opened on 3rd street and Main in 1854. During Prohibition, breweries such as The Los Angeles Brewing Company were forced to shift to non-alcoholic drinks such as cider, near beer, and root beer.
Today, breweries are back in full force, and the restrictions of Prohibition have led to the popularity of modern-day speakeasies in many parts of the city. While drinking remains a large part of the history of Los Angeles, it isn't difficult to find sober activities in the City of Angels if you know where to look.
Non-Alcoholic Bars And Zero Proof Drinks In LA
Auburn is a great fine-dining restaurant in Hancock Park that was founded by Eric Blum, alumnus of the incredibly popular French restaurant Republique. Auburn celebrates local flavors and growers, creating delicious and complex non-alcoholic drinks that can compete with any cocktail. One of their mocktails includes Shrub, an earthy drink consisting of beet shrub, strawberry, orange flower and ginger beer.
Another bar specializing in non-alcoholic drinks is The Edison, a Prohibition-themed speakeasy located in Downtown LA. They're known for such creations as The Paper moon, a drink made with cucumber, lime and tonic water; or the sweet Natasha, which uses raspberry, lemon and pineapple juice. For those who want the intrigue of the speakeasy without the alcohol, The Edison is a perfect fit.
Gracias Madre is a popular West Hollywood spot that has an "On the Wagon" section with some pretty stellar non-alcoholic options. Gracias Madre is a vegan Mexican food restaurant that serves not only virgin margaritas, but also the delicious Michelada Sin Cerveza, which consists of habanero bitters, jalapeño basil ice, and Whalebird dry-hopped grapefruit kombucha.
If you're a fan of seafood, the restaurant Providence in Hollywood is a seafood-centric joint that specializes in environmentally friendly mocktails. The bar director takes scraps from the kitchen to make zero-waste mocktails such as their Sea Cucumber, made from cucumbers and citrus; or their Pucker Up, made from calamansi drinking vinegar, grapefruit and soda.
The best view in all of Los Angeles has got to be the bar 71Above. Located at the top floor of the highest building in LA, this bar offers a 360-degree view of Downtown LA that will take your breath away. And it's not a bad place to get a non-alcoholic drink, either. The bartenders specialize in delicious cocktails that taste just as good without the alcohol. And when you're that high up, you won't need booze to set the mood.
The Best Sober Activities In Los Angeles
While barhopping is a favorite pastime of many an Angeleno, there are hundreds of daytime and nighttime activities to do in LA that don't involve drinking. Disneyland, located just outside of Los Angeles, is a whole day's experience in and of itself. You can take a trip down to the Santa Monica Pier for some cotton candy and fishing, or go south to Dockweiler beach for a nighttime bonfire and some s'more roasting.
It seems like everyone in Los Angeles is trying to make a career in comedy, and the variety of comedy shows available every single night is proof of that. Catch a set at the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard, or check out a sketch show at the Groundlings. If you love to laugh, you won't need alcohol to find the funny.
There is no shortage of Escape Rooms in Los Angeles, from 60out Escape Rooms in Hollywood to Escape Room LA in Downtown. They're an incredibly fun for a group or even a first date activity. For other romantic sober date activities, see a movie at the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery Cinespia Theater or watch the sunset from the balcony at the iconic Griffith Observatory.
Speaking of Griffith Observatory, it's an excellent place for a daytime or nighttime hike. Hiking is one of the favorite LA pastimes of local residents and tourists alike, from the celebrity-studded Runyon Canyon to the more secluded Malibu hikes along the Pacific Coast Highway. And after a long day spent hiking, there's nothing more relaxing than visiting one of the many 24 hour spas in Koreatown for a massage or a lounge in the sauna.
How Easy Is It To Have Sober Fun In LA?
With a bar on almost every street, it can seem difficult to avoid the barhopping culture that pervades Los Angeles. However, with a little detective work and imagination, you can definitely fill your days and your nights with endless non-alcoholic activities. You can even join in on the bar hopping craze by visiting one of the many bars and restaurants in LA that serve specialty mocktails that'll knock your socks off.