Sober lounge aims to change drinking culture in San Antonio

There’s something about a cold beer with friends, even without a buzz. A South Side business is serving brews and cocktails, but there’s a catch. The drinks at Hash Vegan Eats don’t have alcohol. Hash is the first full nonalcoholic bar in San Antonio.

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“There is a whole community of people who just don’t drink, whether because (they’re) around it all day (for work) or just kind of tired of it,” Michael Sánchez said. Sánchez and his brother Rogelio are the owners of Hash located off of South Flores and West Edmonds Street.

The Sánchez brothers want to change the drinking culture in San Antonio and help those struggling with alcohol abuse.

“I had a beer (at Hash) with a buddy of mine. I hadn’t had one in 10 years,” Ezequiel García said. García is sober and enjoys the business’ non alcoholic brews. García said the bar’s vibe takes the pressure off from having a traditional beer.

“Really, it’s other people that get offended when they offer you a beer, and you don’t take it,” García said. “But here, I mean, no. I was a big drinker. I quit drinking because I just don’t want to be in the system anymore with DWI’s.”

Testimonies like García’s are ones that reassure owners Rogelio and Michael that an alcohol-free bar concept is needed in San Antonio.

“We have a high level of domestic abuse, which is directly tied to alcoholism and drug abuse,” Rogelio said.

“It’s just kind of a given with the culture, with the Hispanic culture or the the culture in general,” Michael said. “You (are) just expected to drink.”

The Sánchez brothers have walked this path themselves. They are eight years sober and want to help educate the community that gathering and having fun doesn’t always involve alcohol, even during times of celebration.

“It used to be just O’Douls (beer), which was not a great beer, so it kind of steered people away,” Michael said. “But now, you can have everything from an IPA, to a porter, to a golden ale (beer) and craft cocktails.”

“(We have) phenomenal handcrafted cocktails,” Rogelio said. “You (can’t) tell the difference, except for the effect, obviously.

Their lounge is meant to offer a space of healing but also one that is socially engaging for those that choose to be sober and fear triggers.

“They don’t want to give up on the craft beers to be able to feel like there’s a place for them, a place that they can relate to and a place that they value in ethics and in environments and culture,” Rogelio said.

Customers can choose from the original or seasonal menu of handcrafted cocktails. Rogelio recommends the Blueberry Whiskey Sour for first-time visitors.

“I’m partial to (it) because I created it,” Rogelio said. “It has fresh muddled blueberries, Ritual Whiskey, which is a Zero-Proof (non-alcoholic) whiskey, fresh lime juice, agave nectar and topped off with some Topo Chico.”

The restaurant and lounge also offers vegan bites including the traditional Mexican soup or stew, pozole.

For more on the alcohol-free lounge, click here.