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Jess And Emily From Alcohol-Free Detroit On Sobriety & Non-Alcoholic Drinks In Detroit

September 23, 2023
By: Chrystabelle

About the Author

Chrystabelle is a non-alcoholic drinks expert who has tasted and reviewed hundreds of non-alcoholic beers, non-alcoholic wines, hop water, and non-alcoholic spirits. Her journey to being sober curious and discovering non-alcoholic options began when she realized she had a tendency to binge drink. Reach her at chrystabelle@oneclubsober.com.

Jess and Emily are two friends who started an Instagram account @alcoholfreedetroit, featuring places in Detroit and SE Michigan that sell non-alcoholic drinks, as well as reviews of non-alcoholic drinks.

They sat down with One Club Sober to chat about their individual sobriety journeys, curating Michigan’s non-alcoholic drinks on their Instagram, and share their favorite places in Detroit and SE Michigan for alcohol-free bevvies.

Hey Emily and Jess! Give Us A Quick Introduction On How You Both Met

Emily: Hi! I’m Emily. I work in the medical field and am a married mom of two kids, 5 and 2. I celebrated two years of alcohol freedom on July 27th this year. 

Jess and I have known each other for 20 years (we met through mutual friends), but we became close on Instagram in 2021 when I started posting on instagram about nonalcoholic beverages, mommy-wine culture and sobriety content.

Jess messaged me about the stuff I was posting, and we realized we were having similar experiences with alcohol abuse. She was one of the first people I got to truly and honestly engage with about this heavy burden I had been carrying for at least five years. 

Jess and Emily Alcohol Free Detroit

Jess: I’m Jess! I work in nonprofit marketing and am a married mom of one kid, age 4. I have been sober curious for a few years now, and I’ll be four months consecutively sober as of the end of September.

Full honesty? I wouldn’t be where I am in my sobriety journey without Emily and without Alcohol-Free Detroit. My husband struggled with severe alcohol-use disorder for many years, and his journey to sobriety (he’s at 15 months now!), coupled with my desire to be the best mom I can be to my son, inspired me to start examining my own drinking, which was often problematic.

When Emily and I reconnected in 2021, she opened me up to a world of sober culture — books, podcasts, IG accounts, Facebook groups. Alcohol Free Detroit is definitely Emily’s baby — I’m just lucky that she lets me post silly reels and have some fun with her.

What’s The Story Behind Alcohol-Free Detroit?

Emily: Part of my sobriety journey started with getting really obsessed with non-alcoholic beverages during my first 90 days off of drinking. I had been nudging Jess to try some non-alcoholic beer for quite awhile, and when she finally got on board, she immediately said, “we need to be posting about the stuff we are trying!”

I had already started the Instagram account @alcoholfreedetroit several months before but hadn’t used it for anything. And that’s how we came to be! We started out wanting to showcase non-alcoholic selections at various stores and restaurants in the Detroit Area.

Working full time and family life have caused us to dial back our online presence. We still post occasionally, and our DMs are always open for anyone wanting to talk non-alcoholic beverages or sober curiosity. 

Jess: More than an account to share our own favorite bevvies, it has been a way for us to connect with other sober folks locally and across the country and share the wins and struggles of our sobriety journies.

I don’t think either of us would have thought that this pet project would expand the way it has (sober meet-ups, inspiring other people, this interview!), and I’m very excited for what’s to come.

gruvi-brewery

What are some of the non-alcoholic drinks or brands you love?

Emily: We have tried so many beverages, and there are still SO many more out there, but we have budgets! My favorites rotate by season, I’d say. I’m loving Ted Segers, a new lager born in Michigan and brewed in Chicago.

I’m actually on a pilsner kick right now: Brooklyn Brewery, Gruvi, and Untitled Art all have excellent lighter style beers that I would have NEVER selected back in my drinking days. Funny how tastes change! I used to prefer IPAs, but I think I just enjoyed the higher alcohol content. 😉

I’m also a big fan of non-alcoholic margaritas, so I always keep Trader Joe’s Margarita Mix and Ritual or Monday Tequila on hand.

Jess: Speak for yourself, Emily — budgets go out the window when I see a great new non-alcoholic 😉 I am always down for a bitter non-alcoholic IPA or a chocolatey stout beer, but I’ve also been loving the non-alcoholic sour beer options lately. It’s so hard to pick a favorite!

Most recently, I have really loved Athletic Brewing‘s Lemon Radler, Two Roots’ Irish Red (sadly no longer available), Eastern Market Brewing’s Tangerine Sour and Gruvi’s Juicy IPA.

My go-to mocktail is pomegranate juice, orange bitters, Lyre’s Amaretti, and topped with orange or berry-flavored sparkling water. Lyre’s Amaretti also makes an incredible amaretto sour!

Spill the details on Detroit/ SE Michigan! What are some of your favorite places in Detroit that serve non-alcoholic drinks? Where do you recommend sober/sober-curious people visiting?

Emily: We are lucky that distribution is really picking up for non-alcoholic beverages in Michigan. Lots of stores carry more than just O’Douls at this point. It is currently not legal in Michigan to ship non-alcoholic beer directly to consumers, so supporting places that sell non-alcoholic products is really helpful to encourage more offerings. 

Our favorite places to go non-alcoholic crazy are:

Berkley Coffee & Oak Park Dry in Oak Park, MI

Berkley Coffee & Oak Park Dry in Oak Park, MI

Go grab a coffee and an expertly made craft non alcoholic cocktail while you browse their enormous selection of non alcoholic beer, wine, aperitifs, spirits, mixers, bitters, etc.

It’s a one stop shop for making the non-alcoholic bar of your dreams. They have live music and other events too! It’s not terribly far from the Detroit Zoo if it helps to make a day of it!

Metropolitan Variety Store + Metropolitan Kitchen and Bar in Detroit, MI

Metropolitan Variety Store + Metropolitan Kitchen and Bar in Detroit, MI

Similarly, MVS has an excellent selection of non-alcoholic beer (we love being able to buy single cans), wine and spirits. The non-alcoholic cocktail menu at the attached restaurant is outstanding, with a wide variety of offerings. And the food is steller!

Jess: Emily’s recommendations are great! You can find many good options at your local grocery store these days, which is awesome, but specialty stores like Berkley Coffee and Metro Variety have WAY more options, as well as friendly folks who will give you recommendations. Support your local non-alcoholic shops!

I’ll also add that I’ve been to a lot of events this summer, so I’d love to share what I’ve found:

  • Meadowbrook Amphitheater carries Heineken 0.0 in their beer booth
  • Comerica Park now carries Heineken 0.0 as well
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts keeps a few Athletic brands in stock
  • LCA has O’Douls – they may have added more options!
  • Pine Knob, from what I’ve seen, still doesn’t have any options. Huge miss! 

Don’t forget to follow @alcoholfreedetroit on Instagram!


Did you enjoy this interview with Alcohol-Free Detroit? Then check out our other interviews below:

About the Author

Chrystabelle is a non-alcoholic drinks expert who has tasted and reviewed hundreds of non-alcoholic beers, non-alcoholic wines, hop water, and non-alcoholic spirits. Her journey to being sober curious and discovering non-alcoholic options began when she realized she had a tendency to binge drink. Reach her at chrystabelle@oneclubsober.com.

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