Douglas Watters opened Spirited Away on the Lower East Side last November. Last summer, he said he began investigating his drinking habits and health and began experimenting with non-alcoholic cocktails. He liked the result. “I liked keeping the ritual and celebrating the end of work and achievements, but I didn’t feel sick the next day.”
Recently, 39-year-old Watters quit his job at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and started working full-time. Spirited Away, considered the first dry retailer in New York City, started with 70 products and now offers 140 products. A plant-based “mental restorer”.
He has already exceeded 200 square feet of stores. Next month, he will move to a store that is twice the size of Nolita.
The movement of non-liquor cocktails seems to follow the evolution of craft cocktails. “People are sophisticated drinkers. They want different combinations of complex and interesting flavors,” says Waters. “There is an increasing variety of products. There is also technology. There are now steam or vacuum distillation and new technologies,” he continued. “It helped open the market.”
Minus Moonshine, a self-proclaimed “dry drink + potion shop” in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, opened in June. In addition to selling products, co-founders April Electra Storms and Melissa Irisarri host monthly social gatherings for groups such as sober curious parents and sober singles.
“Non-drinkers like me have long been ignored,” Mx said. A storm that identifies it as non-binary. “As a former chef, I’m passionate about drinks. I knew this was the next thing to do in my life.”