1818 E. 12th Street, Austin, TX 78702
I'm fully aware this isn't going to be for everyone. It's a niche idea that doesn't fit in directly with everyone's lives, especially in today's society with unaffordable mental health and people trying to self-medicate with alcohol. Suffering from extreme social anxiety myself, I have always used alcohol as a form of social lubricant. This leaves me with a bunch of friends that rely on alcohol to have fun, and if I'm going somewhere that's not a bar, I can assume I'm going alone. My motivation behind going to Sans Bar was to maybe find some friends outside of this mindset that I've already found myself in. As seen around the the site, and facebook, and as the owner later told me, "it's not about being sober for life. It's about being sober for tonight." I have since learned this is a kind of technique they use in AA, with taking in one day at a time. Oops.
As of right now, this "bar" is only a pop up and only opens for special events that they plan every month. The cover seems to typically be $10, and that includes unlimited mocktails and snacks. The event I went to was a "Christmas in July" theme and they had drinks to match. There was iced hot chocolate and "not-toddys" with peppermint around the rim. For those looking for things a little less imitation-esque, they had Topochico and lavendar soda. The snacks included popcorn, cookies, and, um, I think pretzels. It was either pretzels or chips. I honestly can't remember. But anyways...
I saw one other guy that was there alone and started talking to him. We didn't exactly hit it off, but that was probably partially due to my feeling of extreme awkwardness from talking to someone new, while sober. We ended the conversation, and as I was heading inside to get another "drink" (I could at least try to create the placebo effect, right?), I was stopped by the owner, Chris. Seriously, this man is top-notch. He could sense the anxiety I was having, and immediately came to try to make it right. We talked and I told him I was feeling intrusive and shy about walking up to a group of people, and everyone already had their groups. In attempt to remedy this, he introduced me to a couple ladies who had been going since the beginning and were very kind in taking me under their wing, so to speak. Chris would even come to check on us at times and see if he could bring us more drinks. If people left, he made sure they didn't get away without a formal goodbye and a thank you.
I hung out with these two ladies until they left, and feeling a little more social, I joined another group until the bar closed. They were fun people, and while I didn't get any contact info, they're definitely wouldn't mind hanging out with again. There was a midnight candle-light AA meeting, for those interested. I obviously didn't go because I am not sober, but just as a note: I was asked by almost everyone how long I had been sober and if I went to meetings and why not. While the concept of a place to just hang out and be social without alcohol is fantastic in my mind, I think I crossed the line on this one, as it does seem to draw in the AA crowd and recovering alcoholics and people who are totally sober. I *have* has my fair share of issues with alcohol, and it is why I quit drinking liquor, but I don't know if its a crowd I was disrupting with my beer-drinking tendencies
Overall, it was a good experience. The mission and purpose that Chris is trying to achieve in inspirational, to say the very least, and he seems like a compassionate guy trying to help others get through a struggle with more ease than he did. To everyone struggling with alcoholism, I cannot recommend this place enough. The support you were find here is a phenomenal tool in starting or continuing your journey.