4 SLC bars with delicious mocktails for the Dry January crowd

Start at Bar X, then go to Back Door, Franklin Ave. Cocktails & Kitchen and Copper Common to follow along.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Eric Lewis pours cinnamon over a craft mocktail drink for a fiery effect at Bar X in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.

For those who partake in alcohol, Dry January is a chance to take a break from drinking after perhaps indulging over the holidays. For nondrinkers, it’s just another month. But either way, doing Dry January doesn’t have to mean not going out.

In fact, there are four bars in downtown Salt Lake City, in proximity to each other, that offer a sober bar crawl, or a “sober strut,” for those who’d rather have a mocktail over a cocktail.

While some may not know this, cocktail bars Bar X, Back Door, Franklin Cocktails & Kitchen, and Copper Common all make a mean mocktail, too. And these aren’t just simple sugar bombs; they’re complex, nuanced and, in some cases, a bit more special than a typical cocktail.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Eric Lewis pours a craft mocktail drink at Bar X in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.

Eric Lewis, who has been a bartender at Bar X for two years, said bartenders tend to view someone ordering a mocktail as a “challenge.”

“When a lot of people think of a bar, they think of a place where you go to get alcohol, and that’s enough of a sales pitch for most people,” Lewis said. “And so when people come in, and they’re asking for something that doesn’t have any of that, we see it as, one, a tremendous compliment.”

He added that “we also see it as a chance to still impress this person with our ability and creativity.”

So follow along on this “sober strut” and see how adventurous nonalcoholic drinking can be.

Bar X

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) A flaming craft mocktail sits on the bar at Bar X in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.

Our strut’s first stop was Bar X, at 155 E. 200 South. We pregamed at Este Pizza across the street with slices of pizza, kombucha and soda as a snow squall started up. Once we got to the bar, we were all too happy to duck inside where it was warm and dimly lit.

Lewis and manager Julie Tall informed me that Bar X actually doesn’t have mocktails on the menu. Instead, the bartenders take a “roulette” approach to mocktails, where they ask patrons a few guiding questions to learn what sort of flavors they’re in the mood for. Then, the bartender creates a concoction depending on the patron’s preferences using house-made syrups, fresh juice, mixers and tinctures, Tall said.

When I bellied up to the bar, Tall asked me if I was craving something tart, something bitter, something sweet, something tropical or any combination of those flavors. I told her I would like a drink more on the bitter side, and after making sure I didn’t have any allergies or dietary restrictions, she went to town.

What Tall ended up making me was a berry-forward but slightly vinegary drink that was a little bit tart, a little bit sweet and deeply flavored. It was a mixture of a blackberry shrub that the bartenders make in-house with balsamic vinegar (”drinking vinegars are something that are just really hot right now,” she said), housemade grenadine syrup, fresh lemon juice and a dash of orange blossom water, topped with Phony Negroni.

”Most of our bartenders, we all geek out over flavors more than we do the actual spirits,” Tall said as I sipped my drink. “So that’s why mocktails and cocktails are just fun for us.”

Back Door

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Mac Wallace serves the craft mocktail "Secret Garden" at the bar Back Door on Edison in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024.

By now, the snow was really coming down, so we hustled south from Bar X to Back Door. Going past Laziz Kitchen at 152 E. 200 South and walking to the Back Door a little ways down Edison Street really felt like going into a speakeasy, which was fun.

Back Door is connected to Laziz Kitchen, and guests are welcome to order food from Laziz’s full menu that is then brought into the bar area.

Inside Back Door, the space was filled with low velvet couches and small tables with little lamps on them. The dim lighting and soft music contributed to a vibe of being in someone’s fancy living room.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Two craft mocktails, "Pina Colada, Hold the Pina" and "Secret Garden" sit on the bar at Back Door on Edison in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024.

I ordered a mocktail called the Secret Garden ($8), which was made with apple, sage, lime and pineapple. It arrived in a tall glass with a generous sprig of sage as a garnish, and I enjoyed getting my nose into that sage whenever I took a sip. Apple and pineapple combined to magical effect in this elixir, which was lightly effervescent and perfectly tart.

My bar-hopping companion ordered the Pina Colada, Hold the Pina, made with pineapple juice, lime and coconut. The fact that the bartender was juicing big wedges of pineapple when we arrived told me this tasty juice was seriously fresh.

After we finished our drinks, it was time to keep moving down Edison Street to ...

Franklin Ave. Cocktails & Kitchen

(Kolbie Peterson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The raspberry rosewater lemonade from Franklin Ave. Cocktails & Kitchen.

Franklin Ave. Cocktails & Kitchen at 231 S. Edison St. was bright, bustling and noisy compared to the intimate feel of Back Door.

According to the history section included in the menu, Franklin Ave. Cocktails & Kitchen is located on what in the late 1800s was called Franklin Avenue. Apparently, newspapers of the day sometimes referred to this mid-block alley as “Darktown,” “as it was one of the only places African Americans were welcome,” the menu said.

Franklin Avenue was also known for tenement housing and brothels, the menu said, as well as the Franklin Avenue Variety Theatre, which had a secret adjoining saloon.

I ordered the raspberry rosewater lemonade ($8), which arrived in a glass that made it look like a cocktail I’d order on a beach, garnished with a slice of lemon. The drink was tart and refreshing, and slightly floral from the rosewater. If I could sum up what the drink tasted like, I’d use the word “sparkly.”

After we nibbled on the dill pickle potato chips with whipped feta dip, we headed down Edison Street (aka Franklin Avenue) to ...

Copper Common

(Kolbie Peterson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Snake Oil Sour from Copper Common.

By now, the snow was beginning to let up, but it was still nice to walk into a snug bar like Copper Common, at 111 E. 300 South, on such a cold night. The lighting was low, but the hip-hop being played kept us awake and alert (as did the fact that we hadn’t drank any alcohol).

Inside, the Edison bulbs glowed warmly over the bar. I ordered a drink called the Snake Oil Sour ($10), made with Pathfinder Hemp & Root, acid-adjusted orange juice, almond orgeat and black walnut bitters.

There were a couple of ingredients in there that I was unfamiliar with, so I looked them up. According to its website, Pathfinder Hemp & Root is a nonalcoholic “fermented and distilled hemp-based liquid with the intense flavor and aromatic characteristics of a spirit, with none of the harmful effects of alcoholic beverages.”

Orgeat is a sweet syrup often made with almonds, sugar and orange flower water that’s used to flavor tiki drinks, according to Liquor.com.

The resulting potion, served in a delicate coupe glass, was slightly sweet, slightly nutty, wholly herbal and complex. It was garnished with a fresh sprig of rosemary, which I enjoyed sniffing as I sipped.

After a couple of Copper Common burgers, we walked back up Edison Street to our car to drive home, safely.


• This was my first sober bar crawl, and I had a great time. It was nice to be able to keep drinking and keep trying new flavors without getting more and more intoxicated. And it was nice to not have to worry about getting home.

• Mocktails are cheap! Normally I’d spend about $50 for two cocktails and a bar snack, tip included. But for this whole night, the total came to about $60 before tip.

• Bartenders are doing really interesting things with nonalcoholic drinks. How cool is it that sober people can actually have more options than a soda with lime. I love to see it!