The Denver Post

COUPLE OPENS DENVER’S FIRST NO-ALCOHOL BAR

Denver’s first no-alcohol bar starts pouring mocktails in Jefferson Park

- By Josie Sexton The Denver Post

Back in 2019, Christy and Billy Wynne of Denver were in France’s wine country where they had escaped to live for a year with their two children. It was in that unlikely place that they decided to stop drinking alcohol.

At first, when they had moved, there was “a constant stream of visitors, and the rosé was flowing,” Christy said. Once the visitation­s died down and the season changed, though, the couple took a hard look at themselves and their marriage, and they came to similar realizatio­ns.

“I was in midlife, feeling like I was going off the rails a little bit, and I knew in the back of my mind that alcohol was the problem,” Christy said.

“I had to be honest with myself about my

relationsh­ip to alcohol,” said Billy, who owns a consulting business. “There was just no mistaking the fact that it was creating a filter between me and my life.”

Fast-forward to 2021, and the Wynnes are back in Denver, where they are opening a bar together — sober.

Awake is the first of its kind in Denver, bringing a non-alcoholic beer, wine and cocktail destinatio­n to a city that prides itself on drinking local booze and living an active, healthy lifestyle altogether.

“It’s really about keeping the sophistica­tion (of bar culture) there,” Christy said of their goal for Awake. “Being able to participat­e in that (drinking) ritual in a sophistica­ted way is really important, so, you know, you’re not the person at the kids table.”

Awake is a bright but dateworthy space, with plenty of outdoor seating, a wall of windows that open to the patio, and a pretty bar area for selecting and then sipping on drinks made from around 40 non-alcoholic beverages (and counting).

The Wynnes sell commonly known brands like Seedlip distilled non-alcoholic spirits and Gruvi’s 0% beers and wines. But they also have an entire case of internatio­nally sourced non-alcoholic spirits, beers and wines to discover.

Some of their favorites are the citrus-forward and CBD-infused Aplós; Ghia French-made aperitif; herbaceous and seasalted Pentire from the Cornwall coast; and Monday Gin, which drinks like a London dry. Giesen’s alcohol-removed white wine from New Zealand smells and tastes just like her favorite sauvignon blanc, Christy said.

When they first returned from France and were looking for alternativ­es to alcohol in the U.S., there were very few options, the Wynnes agreed. But two years later, the couple can be selective in their choices as they stock Awake’s growing bar and bottle shop.

“The competitio­n’s good, because it forces everybody to have the best products,” Christy said.

“It feels like a palpable trend,” Billy added.

Last year, Honey Elixir Bar, which serves just as many nonalcohol­ic as boozy beverages, opened in the heart of the RiNo arts district. And Longmont’s Bootstrap Brewing recently started making a non-alcoholic IPA in addition to its regular beer lineup.

While Awake is the first of Denver’s n/a bars to open, it’s likely not the last. But the Wynnes are on a mission that’s larger than just riding the latest drinking — or not — trend.

For her part, Christy has transition­ed from a career as a certified physician assistant to sobriety and general coaching for women. And Awake is one outlet to further that work.

“This epidemic of drinking has really impacted women,” Christy said. “(The alcohol industry) made women believe that we need (alcohol) to mother, that we need it to cope, we need it at birthday parties, for any socializin­g, everything.”

So she educates drinkers, and especially women, about the role that alcohol plays in every“It thing from liver disease to hormone imbalances and cancers, she said. “As a society, it’s going to be hard to ignore at some point.”

But at Awake, the vibe is more upbeat, more inclusive and with a focus on giving back. So if you’re not sober, sober-curious or abstaining for a night, here’s another reason to visit: The bar donates 20% of its profits to a different charity every month.

 ??  ?? The Hidden Idol Empress mocktail, containing Lyre’s dark rum, elderflowe­r syrup and Avec’s grapefruit pomelo, at Awake.
The Hidden Idol Empress mocktail, containing Lyre’s dark rum, elderflowe­r syrup and Avec’s grapefruit pomelo, at Awake.
 ?? Photos by Rachel Woolf, Special to The Denver Post ?? Billy and Christy Wynne at Awake on May 6.
Photos by Rachel Woolf, Special to The Denver Post Billy and Christy Wynne at Awake on May 6.
 ?? Rachel Woolf, Special to The Denver Post ?? Awake has a pretty bar area for selecting and then sipping on drinks made from around 40 non-alcoholic beverages (and counting).
Rachel Woolf, Special to The Denver Post Awake has a pretty bar area for selecting and then sipping on drinks made from around 40 non-alcoholic beverages (and counting).
 ?? Provided by Awake ?? An assortment of mocktails from Awake, the new alcohol-free bar in Denver’s Jefferson Park.
Provided by Awake An assortment of mocktails from Awake, the new alcohol-free bar in Denver’s Jefferson Park.
 ?? Denver Post Rachel Woolf, Special to The ?? The exterior of Awake in Jefferson Park.
Denver Post Rachel Woolf, Special to The The exterior of Awake in Jefferson Park.

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