While there are myriad bar services out there, none specialise in alcohol-free cocktails and drinks, leaving a huge segment of the market without a drink in their hand. Until now. Stephen Hickmore of Hickmore Recruitment and HSC has launched So-Bar – a mobile bar service that offers all the fun without the alcohol. So-Bar offers a range of alcohol-free cocktails as well as alcohol-free ready-to-drink products such as beers, ciders and spirits, creating all the experience, interaction and excitement of a bar service, but without the negatives that many associate with alcohol.

“So-Bar is for the ‘mindful drinker’, the ‘Teetotaler’ and the ‘Sober Curious’ alike. Your guests may not want to overdo it and switch during the event. They may be driving, they may be trying to impress a date or a boss and don’t want to say anything dumb!” says Stephen Hickmore.

We chatted with Stephen about So-Bar, why he decided to start it and the feedback so far. For any further info on So-Bar, you can email Stephen by clicking here.

When did the idea for So-Bar strike? I decided that I would give up drinking 4 years ago. I had always been a social drinker and am, by nature, a sociable person. I guess one gets to places in one’s life when change is beneficial. Although I never had an authentic drinking problem, I decided enough was enough. So-Bar came to mind just over a year ago. I still socialise a lot and there are very few inspiring zero alcohol alternatives offered by bars, restaurants and event organisers. So I thought ‘The time has come!’ 57% of the population of Africa don’t drink, so it’s possible that at least 25% of people at a function don’t drink at all, don’t want to drink that night, want to party sober, are teetotal, pregnant, driving or are simply mindful drinkers like myself. Hence the birth of So-Bar.

How did you develop the cocktails for So-Bar? I got inspired by the zero alcohol gins on the market like, the local Jozi Ginifer Sober. I started testing some mixes out on my dinner guests at home (all seasoned drinkers) and adjusted some recipes. Voila! So-Bar cocktails! They look and taste like a party.

What have your thoughts been on the ready-to-drink alcohol-free beverage solutions out there? Was there quite a lot of sourcing and sampling before selecting the options for the bar? Yes, plenty of sourcing and sampling and testing on sceptical friends. Some of the beers are truly terrible! But the recent additions such as Castle Free, Heineken Zero, Bitberger and Erdinger are excellent. I am loving the zero alcohol Savanna too. Duchess zero G&T is fab and tastes just like one. You’ve also got to try JC Le Roux Zero Alcohol bubbles, too.

I know you’ve just launched, but are there any responses to So-Bar that you could share with us? The reactions have been excellent. A lot of people are telling us their struggles for a decent zero alcohol alternative at a party. Contrary to popular belief, mindful drinkers are not satisfied with a coke, rock shandy, or water. They want to party, dance with the best of them. The only difference is that they would rather not stagger home and face a morning of hangover. Yes, I have had people say “What’s the point?” and “I love your drinks, but a tot of vodka would be lovely”, but there is a growing ‘sober curious’ and ‘mindful drinking’ shift in the world. I meet plenty of people who have never explored the alternatives to booze, and, I must say most people love it. My worst reaction was when I asked a bar manager if they had any zero-alcohol beer, the response was “We are not that type of bar.” Mmm? I guess lots of folks think they cannot have a wild time without booze. However, since I stopped drinking, my dancing has in no way improved, but I still try.

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