Andrew Coppolino's 9 places to find non-alcoholic beverages in Waterloo region

More people are looking for non-alcoholic options when out on the town. Food columnist Andrew Coppolino says these locations in Waterloo region offer a number of non-alcoholic beverages — and it's not all mocktails and virgin Caesars.

Many local options for teetotalers and the health-conscious alike

Skipping the booze doesn't have to be boring, says food columnist Andrew Coppolino. These spots offer a wide variety of non-alcoholic beverages.

Healthier and cleaner eating, whatever that entails for a particular individual, has become a recent trend at home and in restaurants.

An increased interest in vegan eating and the juggernaut that is plant-based foods — the Beyond Meat phenomenon, for instance — are just two examples of the way people's eating habits are changing. 

As part of that interest in healthier eating, consumers and restaurant-goers are looking for good quality beverages that are both flavourful and inventive, and at the same time lower in alcohol. Bars and restaurants have responded. 

While restaurants have always served drinks like mocktails and "virgin" Caesars, they've also heard more requests for low-alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks. What might be called the sober-bar trend, now allows you to find punny drinks such as the "Sansgria," an alcohol-free Sangria. Some venues, like Waterloo's Wildcraft, offer a non-alcoholic Stiegl beer or low-alcohol radlers. 

Here are a few more alcohol-free beverages from local restaurants for your sipping consideration this summer:

Graffiti Market 

Located at Catalyst 137 on Glasgow Street near Belmont Avenue W. in Kitchener, Graffiti Market offers what they call "politically correct" beverages.

You can get a Moscow Mule without the vodka (it has berries and ginger beer) or an alcohol-free Long Island iced tea, which usually has three or four types of booze.

They also serve Italian sodas, a relatively new addition to the food scene. 

Loloan Lobby Bar

Another popular venue boasting "timeless cocktails," Loloan prepares drinks in homage to the cities and famous hotels of southeast Asia.

But Loloan bartenders can easily create and customize tasty beverages that are low in, or contain no alcohol.

Of recent note is a beverage of pineapple juice, lime, reduced pomegranate and half of a bird's eye chili pepper. It's an example of the balance of sweet, sour and heat that can satisfy the palate.

Establishments like Graffiti Market or Downtown Kitchener's Elevenses all have a variety of non-alcoholic options. (CBC)


With the name, it's hard to avoid the drink itself, but Martini's has a multi-layered cocktail list of about two dozen drinks — classics, legacy, icons and more — as well as "Zero Proof" beverages such as their Mango Peach Bellini and Chai This Orange Fizz with coconut water and kombucha.  
Gilt Restaurant

The Gilt bar can adapt and free-wheel on creating drinks as requested by customers, and they do so as much as possible.

Their blood orange Martinis and beverages such as virgin Sangria are popular drinks that are requested frequently, according to the restaurant. 

Grand Trunk Saloon

With a reputation for making excellent and inventive cocktails, such as their delicious "coffee and cigarettes," GTS has also created low-alcohol cocktails and makes tepache, a fermented Mexican street drink with very low alcohol.

It's made by using pineapple rinds from its sister restaurant and tiki bar Grand Surf Lounge.

So, it's a low alcohol drink that uses ingredients a second time before they are discarded — making it a part of a waste recovery pilot program in the downtown core.  
Elevenses Downtown Kitchener

As noted above, Italian sodas appear at a few local venues. The drink is simple enough: carbonated water into which is mixed flavoured syrups.

An American, rather than Italian, creation, you may have seen the rainbow of Torani flavour base-bottles at coffee shops. According to Elevenses co-owner Michelle Luelo, the small take-away shop upstairs in Market Square makes home-made lemonades and Italian sodas, the latter of which started as a summertime drink but has now been kept on the menu because of their popularity.

They make simple syrups using fruit and mix the syrup over ice with soda water. Flavours include combinations like lemon, blueberry and thyme. 

Queen Street Commons Cafe 

An interesting combination of flavours and local ingredients go into QSC's Moroccan mint slush. It's a beverage of Moroccan mint tea steeped overnight and using herbs from the Hacienda Garden. Meyer lemon is part of the flavour profile, and the concoction is mixed with ice and blended to a slushie consistency. 

Proof Kitchen & Lounge

With its proximity to the physicists and mathematicians at the Perimeter Institute, it might be expected that the Proof cocktail list which includes "No Proof Cocktails" — would prepare a Euclidean (watermelon, watermelon juice, mint, basil, lime and soda) and a Brouwer's Fixed Point non-alcoholic cocktail. 

The latter is made with sweet matcha tea, cucumber and tonic. The name, according to Google, refers to a theorem that says that any way you twist or stretch or manipulate a disc, there's always one point that ends up in its original location. 

I can't get my head around that fixed point, so it must be a good point to end this non-alcoholic beverage discussion.

About the Author

Andrew Coppolino

Food columnist, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo

Andrew Coppolino is a food columnist for CBC Radio in Waterloo Region. He was formerly restaurant reviewer with The Waterloo Region Record. He also contributes to Culinary Trends and Restaurant Report magazines in the U.S. and is the co-author of Cooking with Shakespeare. A couple of years of cooking as an apprentice chef in a restaurant kitchen helped him decide he wanted to work with food from the other side of the stove.


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