When Gigi Arandid was on a flight to the Dominican Republic, she did what most people do when caught 30,000 feet in the air: flipped through an airplane magazine. That’s where she first learned about Sans Bar—a cocktail spot in Austin, Texas serving exclusively zero-proof drinks. At the time, Arandid had been sober for two years and the idea resonated with her. So when Arandid, who has a background in customer service and hospitality, later had the chance to take over a space on H Street Northeast, she remembered that article and everything clicked. She would open the first alcohol-free bar and event space in DC.
Binge Bar, slated to open later this year, might seem like an ironic name for a bar with no booze. But Arandid explains it refers more to her Netflix-streaming habit, which became an escape when she gave up alcohol in 2017 following a DUI a year prior. Now, she’s looking to offer that same sense of a safe haven, and more, to others in the Washington area.
“I want it to be a comfortable space for people to really be vulnerable, to open up to each other, to have uncomfortable conversations and have fun at the very same time,” Arandid says.
Washingtonians can expect familiar cocktails but made with zero-proof alcohol from brands like Seedlip and Free Spirits, plus canned mocktails from Mocktail Club. A coffee program and non-alcoholic wines and beers will also be available. Arandid plans to bring her Filipino background into the menu with food options like lumpia (Filipino spring rolls). Drinks on average will range from $6 to $15, with small bites landing between the $15 to $20 range.
The challenge of keeping an alcohol-free bar profitable isn’t lost on Arandid, but she thinks she’ll benefit from her lack of competition and her willingness to adapt to find what works. One idea is to experiment with events, like comedy nights, karaoke, and talent shows.
Art by local artists and contributors will be seen throughout the space. An exterior mural with Binge Bar’s logo will be done by DC native and artist Chris Pyrate, who’s decorated Shibuya Eatery in Adams Morgan and worked with big brands like Nike, Adidas, and the Washington Wizards. The interior mural will come as a surprise to everyone, including Arandid—she gave Pyrate full artistic license—though his art tends to incorporate Washington cherry blossoms.
Binge Bar is the culmination of a growing zero-proof cocktail scene in DC. In recent years, the city’s top restaurants have vastly expanded and improved their non-alcoholic options, especially as more spirit alternatives have come on the market. Pop-up Disco Mary, which operated out of the now-closed Columbia Room, tested out the idea of a spirit-free bar, alongside low-alcohol cocktails. Meanwhile, Umbrella Dry Drinks has set up a pop-up non-alcoholic bottle shop and tasting room in Alexandria with aspirations for a permanent location.
Binge Bar. 506 H St. NE.