At first, the number of products available at her shop could be counted on one hand, maybe two. But after nearly two years in business, she’s expanded to stock 230 products from about 75 different brands—and her options span alcohol-removed wines, non-alcoholic beer, spirit alternatives, ready-to-drink cocktails, and “functional beverages,” a growing category in the industry that includes CBD, adaptogens, and other additives that have some effect on the mind or body.
The number of options is dizzying these days. And major brands are getting in on the action, too. In the beer world, brands from domestic powerhouses like Budweiser and Stella Artois to smaller craft brewers across the country seem to be bottling up ABV-free brews, and WhistlePig recently released a non-alcoholic rye.
“Pretty much everyone’s reaction is, ‘Wow, I had no idea there was so much variety available,’” Babitz says. Because there are so many options out there, she pours samples in the shop to help steer people toward a drink they’ll love. “I would so much rather offer samples and help them find something that they love rather than have them buy something … take it home, open it, and hate it. And then they’re like, ‘well, all alcohol-free spirits are trash and I’m done with this.’ Because there really is something out there for everyone.”