Food & Drink

Toasting Sobriety

Cheeky & Dry, Seattle’s first non-alcoholic bottle shop, offers a full lineup of zero-proof beverages   

By Julie Zack February 12, 2024

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This article originally appeared in the March/April 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

Head into almost any bar, restaurant, or purveyor of spirits, and you’ll notice a growing trend: the presence of non-alcoholic adult beverages. 

I don’t mean typical sodas, or cloyingly sweet concoctions like a Shirley Temple, but beer, wine, and cocktails — all without ethanol. A survey by media firm NCSolutions found that 41% of Americans are trying to drink less alcohol. That number rises to 61% with Gen Z, or those born between the mid-1990s and mid 2010s.

Businesses are taking note, none more so than Cheeky & Dry

Located in Phinney Ridge, Cheeky & Dry is Seattle’s first non-alcoholic bottle shop, run by Kristan Vracko. The reason for opening the shop was simple. “My husband went to rehab (for alcohol use) last May,” Vracko says. “And I got sober in solidarity with him.” 

Vracko missed the ritual of an evening drink, and found that many of the mocktails available locally weren’t doing the trick. In fact, she actively dislikes drinks branded as mocktails, because they tend to remove alcohol without replacing it with anything. The result can be too sweet and more like juice. For a complex flavor profile, Vracko is a proponent of a non-alcoholic cocktail, formulated to be balanced with delicious results. 

While she adjusted to her newly sober lifestyle as her husband completed rehab, an idea started to germinate. “I’ve wanted to own my own shop for ages,” she says. “By the time my husband got out of rehab, I had the idea, and the start of a business plan.” 

Within days of her husband leaving rehab, Vracko set to work, aided by her now-sober partner. The first step? Research. They began receiving box after box of sample products to taste and determine what to carry in their store.

The result is a shop with dozens of unique bottles all vetted by the owners. You’ll see familiar beer labels like Lagunitas or Deschutes with zero-proof options, and a robust selection of non-alcoholic wines including whites, reds, rosés, and of course, bubbles. 

The spirits in the shop are particularly exciting, with a variety of freeform beverages. These spirits aren’t analogous to existing alcohol, like a non-alcoholic tequila or gin. Instead, freeform spirits are new concoctions that are great on their own or can be used as mixers for traditional cocktails. 

While the beers, wines, and spirits at Cheeky & Dry are unique and delightful, Vracko does caution that they aren’t the same as traditional alcoholic beverages. “It’s not going to taste exactly the same,” she says. “It’s something new, and a little different.”

Still, different doesn’t mean bad. Curious to know more? Vracko has a sample table where patrons can taste many of the spirits available. Enjoy the spicy, tart, sweet, smokey, and other interesting flavor profiles before settling on a purchase. 

So far, the shop has been busy and has received positive feedback. “I think Seattle’s good about inclusivity,” Vracko notes. “In a culture like this, it’s time for everybody to be inclusive as far as alcohol goes too.”

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