Doing dry January? You don’t have to miss out – our London expert, Emily from London City Calling, takes you on a tour of the best alcohol-free hangout spots in London.
So just like me you’re taking part in dry January this year, but you still want to go on a night out with friends in London? Being the only sober one in a nightclub whilst all your friends are knocking back Jägerbombs at the bar and rocking out their best dad moves in the middle of the dance floor can be a bit of a drag. You get branded as ‘the boring one’ and your responsibilities are to guard the table with all the coats left on it and making sure everyone gets home safely at the end of the night (this may involve physically carrying someone and placing them into a taxi).
This is why I’ve created a list of all the places in London where the sober and drunk alike can enjoy a great night out together during dry January…
1. Indulge Your Inner-Child at Ballie Ballerson
Yes, this one may technically be a nightclub, however, it’s so much fun you definitely don’t need alcohol to enjoy it. Ballie Ballerson, which recently upgraded to a bigger permanent space in Shoreditch, has a chest-high ball pit filled with 1 million balls! You can spend your night playing hide and seek under the balls or having a giant ball fight with strangers. There is also a bar serving retro sweet-inspired cocktails for your friends who do want a drink.
2. Enjoy Some Competitive Socialising at Swingers Crazy Golf
Located in the City, just a few steps from the Gherkin, you will find Swingers Crazy Golf, an indoor crazy golf club based on a 1920’s English countryside golf club. The venue has two 9 hole courses, a two-story clubhouse, live DJs, 5 bars and 3 street food vendors (including my favourite burger joint Patty & Bun), and is open until 1am from Wednesday to Saturday. Eat, drink (soft drinks) and have plenty of fun competing against your friends in this classic British pastime.
3. Embrace the Winter Chills at Ice Bar London
Embrace the January chills and head to Ice Bar London, just off of Regent Street, where the walls, bar, tables and even cups are all made of crystal clear ice from Northern Sweden. Each year there is a different theme, with this year’s being Wild in the City, with animal sculptures and carvings of London landmarks such as the London Eye, St Pauls and even a classic red telephone box. From the bar, you can enjoy non-alcoholic cocktails in their famous ice cups.
Strapped on cash after Christmas? Check out this Groupon Deal for up to 6 at Ice Bar London.
4. Stay Sophisticated and Sip on Non-Alcoholic Cocktails
Looking for something a little classier? The suitably named Redemption is London’s first non-alcoholic bar, with establishments now in both Notting Hill and Shoreditch. As well as serving up healthy, non-alcoholic versions of many classic cocktails, as well as seedlip cocktails (the worlds first distilled non-alcoholic spirit), the bar also offers non-alcoholic beer and even non-alcoholic sparkling wine.
You could even combine drinks with dinner, with Redemption’s restaurant serving a selection of vegan, sugar-free and wheat free food. So if you’re also taking part in Veganuary (poor you!), or simply just trying to lose those extra Christmas pounds, this is a great choice for enjoying an evening out with friends.
However, if you fail at convincing others who are not doing dry January to give up booze for the night, there are still plenty of London cocktail bars serving up both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Just order a ‘mocktail’, or the lesser used ‘softtail’, and your friends will completely forget that you’re not drinking.
I recently discovered a great blog called Dry Scene, which specialises in drink and bar reviews for teetotalers and alcohol abstainers (or those doing dry January!).
5. Use the Money You Save For a Night Out in the West End
I know it’s a little different to the previous 4, but the West End is always a great option for a dry night out in London. There are so many amazing shows on at the moment. Either head to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for cheap last-minute tickets to whatever shows are still available on the night, or check out websites such as LOVEtheatre to book great online deals in advance.
My logic is that if you were going on a night out to a club you’d probably spend at least £50+ on entry, drinks and the taxi home, so why not put the money you save not drinking to good use and enjoy one of London’s iconic shows.
I recently got £20 tickets for Agatha Christies ‘Mouse Trap’ and for anyone who likes murder mysteries, this is a must see! Or if you’re not a fan of the theatre, look out for a bit of stand up comedy at places such as The Comedy Store.
And if you’re not so dry this January, don’t miss the winter lodge pop-up at Hampshire Lounge Bar.