Cutting back on drinking as a New Year's resolution is no easy task, especially in a city with an active nightlife. But one bar is taking the booze out of the bar.
Sans Bar, located at 1818 E. 12th St., looks and feels like a bar, holds live music like a bar and makes cocktails—with non-alcoholic spirits of course—like a bar. The bar has built a strong community of regulars, who say it's exactly the kind of place those wanting a sober kind of fun want to be. In fact, the bar says it sees an uptick in visitors from January-March.
Founded in 2017 by Chris Marshall, Sans Bar is a place for the sober curious, the sober sometimes, the sober serious and anyone in-between. It carries a whole menu of alcohol-free beers, wines and cocktails made with local spirits like Tenneyson and Spiritless. Marshall said the bar is the only one of its kind in Texas, and one of only a handful across the U.S.
“I just saw that there was a real need for a space that didn't include alcohol,” Marshall said. “I really like to see anti-alcohol, pro-authentic connections and I just believe that the best version of ourselves is alcohol-free."
Alyssa Hart, an event coordinator living in Tarrytown, discovered the bar in 2019 during a “Sober by Southwest” event. She had been sober for a few years, was going through a hard breakup and was looking for a supportive community while she felt like she was starting over.
“It was like the crashing together of these two things—spending a lot of time, money and energy on drinking and also realizing that it had really never been a positive thing in my life,” Hart said. “I feel like because it's so ingrained in our society, it becomes something that we are kind of asleep at the wheel about.”
The bar was spurred in part by Marshall’s own journey into sobriety; Marshall quit drinking in his early 20s and will hit 15 years of sobriety in February. If the idea of a sober bar is confusing, Marshall equates it to the rise of plant-based foods as it’s a convenient and familiar way to abstain.
After working almost a decade as a licensed counselor Marshall just wants to see people examine their relationship with alcohol but said everyone on the spectrum from straight edge to drinkers on a night out stops in. He says about 75% of customers who come in identify themselves as just sober sometimes.
“We will never, ever, ever turn someone away who says that they're struggling because we want to be a space for people who are struggling,” Marshall said. “We're not prohibitionists. We're not trying to tell people not to drink alcohol. We totally accept and respect whatever your relationship is with alcohol.”
Likewise, Jon Flores has been sober for nearly four years, aside from the beer he allows himself every year on his birthday. Flores discovered Sans Bar through a targeted social media ad and now says he frequents the bar so much, he is often called the “Sansbassador.”
“Sans Bar came into my life when I really needed it and I'm very grateful that it exists,” Flores said. “Chris has really helped me—he just wants the best for everyone, even strangers on the street. He just wants the best for everybody and it's so refreshing to come across people like that.”
Both Hart and Flores said they try to come in every Friday for a non-alcoholic “Gold Fashioned” or a Budweiser Zero. Both said they have become close friends with Marshall, and Hart said she has since become very active in the sober community, co-founding amplification platform Sober Voices.
The bar is only open on Friday nights from 7 p.m.-midnight for now, with possibly more hours in 2022, but patrons say it works for the bar and makes the time more “precious.” Marshall encourages people to think of it as more of a community-oriented weekly social hour.
“A lot of people are excited about the prospect of drinking less and really taking a month off to examine their relationship with alcohol, so there's a lot of excitement around it, but there's also a lot of fear,” Marshall said. “Austin is becoming the epicenter of the non-alcoholic movement. I think there's something really special that's happening here.”
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Despite a 2-0 deficit, there was a pot of gold for Austin FC after all as it celebrated its annual Pride Night with rainbows and a 2-2 comeback draw to FC Dallas Saturday night.
After three FC Dallas losses last season, the Dallas derby draw marks the first time Austin FC has tied against its Copa Texas rival. Austin continues to edge over FC Dallas as it sits at 3rd in the MLS West.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the match:
A somber start
Decked out in colorful hues for LBGTQ+ Pride, Verde fans started the match on a somber note as they held up banners to take a stand against gun violence before the match.
As the national anthem began, fans held up banners with the names of each child that was killed in the Uvalde school shooting and a plea to "end gun violence."
The supporters' section was also dotted with Pride flags and a "Bans off Our Bodies" banner in protest of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
FC Dallas earns a 2-0 lead
That sober tone continued onto the pitch. With midfielder Daniel Pereira's absence due to a red card, the Verde and Black lost two goals to FC Dallas by the 70th minute of play.
FC Dallas played it sneaky for the first half of the match, giving Austin FC plenty of room to hold possession as it waited to strike on a Verde error. That mentality proved dangerous for Austin as Dallas' Paul Arriola took advantage of Brad Stuver's deflection to score the first goal of the night in the 57th minute of play.
Dallas struck once more as Brandon Servant pushed past the Verde line to score the second goal of the match.
Austin FC strikes back
But energy quickly returned to Austin's favor thanks to Designated Player Sebastian Driussi, who scooted past several FC Dallas defenders alongside Moussa Djitte to snag an unlikely first goal for Austin.
A full Verde comeback
Austin's subs proved deadly as momentum returned to the home team toward the end of the match. A well-placed cross from Nick Lima—and a diving header from a fresh-legged Danny Hoesen—helped the team secure the draw with a second Verde goal in the 84th minute of play.
Hoesen, who was Austin's first starting striker last season, has now scored two goals with the team after a yearlong injury stuck him on the bench.
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Hours following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion, on Friday, about 1,000 people gathered in Republic Square with signs calling for change.
The rally, organized by the group Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights Texas, started at the federal courthouse on Republic Square on Friday at 5 p.m. before the crowd marched to the Texas Capitol. More protests are expected to ensue over the weekend.
People showed up with all types of signs like Mindy Moffa holding up, "Keep your filthy laws off my silky drawers."
Austin joined cities across the country that saw protests for a women's right to an abortion after the ruling.
According to a recent UT poll, 78% of Texas voters support abortion access in most cases.
Sabrina Talghade and Sofia Pellegrini held up signs directed at Texas laws. A Texas trigger law will ban all abortions from the moment of fertilization, starting 30 days after the ruling. When state legislators passed the trigger law last summer, it also passed laws for more protection of firearms, including the right to open carry without a permit.
Lili Enthal of Austin yells as around 1,000 Texans marched to the Texas Capitol.
From the Texas Capitol, Zoe Webb lets her voice be heard against the Supreme Court ruling.
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