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Not Drinking in Detroit: 5 Places to Entertain for the Holidays

A List of Places to Not Drink During the Season of Indulgence


Welcome to the holidays! A time of plenty and merriment—and overindulgence. Of spending too much, eating too much and, for many of us, drinking too much. This is a time of festive gatherings—work, home or bar. Especially bar gatherings. Because this is Detroit, a city of bars! 



Dive bars, hotel bars, wine bars, perfume bars, arcade bars and neon light bars. Every activity in this city seems to come with a bar component. Which is completely rad if you drink. If you don’t, it can be anxiety-inducing and downright alienating. Especially during the holidays when the spirit of the party is pushed to the max with every friend, acquaintance, and family member you’ve ever known in town for the holidays hitting you up to go out. 

I know this because I don’t drink. I never really have. Not because I have a past with alcohol or particularly strong feelings against it—other than the fact that it makes me sleepy. I just don’t care to drink. But, I also don’t mind being around drinkers. Save the constant irritation of having to explain myself all the time, “no, I’m not sober, yes I do prefer Topo Chico with Angostura bitters and a luxardo cherry, thank you.” 

This is not a value judgment. Many people choose to drink, or not drink, or to not be around drinkers for a myriad of personal, valid reasons. And, I hold space for all of you. For me, spending my entire adult life not drinking around drinkers has given me a unique perspective and an important piece of insight: 

“Quitting drinking is hard, and, recently, more and more of you seem to be giving it up.”


Having never given up drinking, I can’t speak to the process of sobriety or recovery, but I can speak to one fact I have witnessed repeatedly throughout the years: 

  • No one wants to be the outsider.
  • Yes, the pressure is real.
  • Drinking is a cultural norm and breaking away can be scary.
  • When people choose to quit drinking, what they are most afraid of is losing their friends. Will their drinking buddies want to be around their new sober self? 

What I learned is that more than mocktails or bar alternatives—which are awesome—people want to spend quality time with other people at places other than bars. It’s about social interaction, and what better than to promote that during the holidays?

It’s also an important thing to note, that when someone says they aren’t drinking, to respect their wishes and not ask them the typical, knee-jerk reactions:

  • Are you pregnant?
  • C’mon, just have one!
  • Don’t be so lame/boring, come on and get drunk with me!
  • Must be watching your calories/cashflow, huh?

Below is a list of places one can go and not drink. It’s based on personal experience and feedback from friends. Truth be told, any place in Detroit can be a non-drinking place, but if you’re concerned about falling into the pressures of drinking while out, here are some options for entertainment and enjoyment! 


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1. The Schvitz 


What’s better than drinking together? Sweating together!  



2. Willis Show Bar 


Have a mocktail. Take in some Jazz


3. Belle Isle Conservatory 

Stroll through the plants and become drunk on nature.


4. Sfumato and Castalia Cocktails


Fragrance shopping in a swanky atmosphere. Mocktails on point.

5. Shinola Hotel

Get yourself a snack without the dive bar scene.