Not drinking alcohol is the new drinking alcohol. The number of sober Americans has been rising for years, a trend fueled in large part by young people choosing not to drink, or drinking less, even when they go out to bars and clubs. And while there are “sobriety bars” that cater to people who have decided to abstain from alcohol entirely, there are also a growing number of establishments that serve sophisticated mocktails alongside traditional booze-centric drinks. The surging market for nonalcoholic beer, wine, and spirits isn’t aimed soley at the entirely sober but at people who like a drink now and then but are tired of the cycle of binging and hangovers.
This “sober curious” crowd is the target for Absence of Proof, a pop-up event series that bills itself as a “night off of drinking.” Founder Elizabeth Gascoigne said that sober curious could mean people who “are reevaluating their relationship with alcohol,” but it could also mean people who merely say, “I want to not drink every night of the week.” Absence of Proof launched in New York earlier this year and it’s been successful enough that Gascoigne is now expanding to Los Angeles and Seattle. She’s from the Seattle area and went to the University of Washington, which influenced her decision to bring the party to the Pacific Northwest. “I gotta be home, I gotta see my people,” Gascoigne said.
The sort of person who shows up for an Absence of Proof event is pretty much by definition also the sort of person who doesn’t need alcohol to dance or socialize. But Gascoigne also provides activities like board games and question-based icebreakers to help people get to know each other. She said that she’s watched friend groups form out of people who started going to NYC Absence of Proof events by themselves, and hopes that the same thing will unfold in Seattle.
The first event is on Friday, April 14 at Ballard venue Cathedral, and Gascoigne intends to put on Absence of Proof parties regularly in the months ahead. “We’ll hopefully grow the community in the same way we have in New York.”
Tickets to Absence of Proof are $40, including unlimited nonalcoholic cocktails, beer, and Surely wine, and can be purchased here. The event is 21+ at Cathedral, 5449 Ballard Ave NW.