A new movement has arrived in Colorado — sober bars — and the first, Awake, is paving the way for sober socializing. Billy and Christy Wynne, newcomers to the food and beverage industry, are opening Awake, a bar and restaurant in the Jefferson Park neighborhood that they hope will give guests an environment for fostering genuine and sober connections.
With their own sobriety, the Wynnes say they can feel a change in their mindset and bodies. Christy states that drinking can have disastrous effects on a woman’s body, including increased chances of breast cancer, irregular hormones and liver disease, and she adds that the health ramifications of drinking represent only the beginning of how alcohol can negatively affect a person's life. As parents, partners and friends, the Wynnes say they have seen a significant difference and improvement in their life since they stopped drinking. “Instead of giving something up, I was giving myself a tremendous gift of being more present with my life,” Billy recalls.
After a trip to France, the Wynnes were inspired by the normalized sobriety scene of readily available alcohol-free beers in supermarkets and bars there. As they observed Heineken Zero quickly selling out and a handful of alcohol-free bars opening around the country, the couple saw the potential of alcohol-free offerings and environments here. They quickly decided they wanted to be a part of the movement to change the societal pressure of socializing under the influence.
In November 2020, they opened Awake as an alcohol-free bottle shop and coffee bar, with the plan of adding bar and food menus for in-house customers once COVID-based restrictions relaxed. The bottle shop carries the largest selection of alcohol-free drinks under one roof in the country, and the Wynnes have personally selected and tried every offering to ensure they're selling the best alcohol-free products to their customers.
Adjoining the bottle shop, Awake's coffee bar sells products from three local partners: Queen City Collective Coffee, Aspen Baking and Mame’s Burritos. Customers of this lively daytime food program get fueled by their favorite varietal brews, fresh-baked treats and savory organic burritos.
The continued presence of COVID-19 has pushed out opening plans for Awake's sober bar, but the Wynnes have adjusted and are officially opening it on Saturday, May 8. As a restaurant and bar, Awake will offer a simple nighttime bar and snack menu, including olive and nuts, charcuterie boards and veggie platters. At the forefront of the food menu is a build-your-own artisan grilled cheese sandwich. You'll be able to choose the bread, cheese and toppings to create a sandwich to satisfy your own tastes.
But most important is the extensive, well-planned roster of alcohol-free drinks, with zero-proof products like Gieson sauvignon blanc imported from New Zealand and locally sourced Gruvi Stout, as well as cocktails designed with cutting-edge non-boozy spirits and housemade mixers.
Since opening, Awake has offered its patio for guests of the coffee bar, and began seating indoors on April 26. With summer on the way and vaccination rates increasing, the Wynnes are hopeful for an active and exciting summer. They plan to hold live music, alcohol-free beer and wine tastings, and education on sobriety. Part of her message, says Christy, who is also a physician's assistant and sobriety coach, is that “there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume. This is not a trend that is going away; it's just the beginning.”
As the only sober bar in Colorado, Awake is a destination spot. During the day, it's is a community space to work and enjoy the patio, while at night, it's a safe space to be present and mindful with friends, family and new acquaintances. The Wynnes want their bar to redefine the way we engage with each other, highlighting a mindset of living in the present and creating authentic relationships. Whether for a date, a girls’ night out, or a night off from alcohol consumption, Awake presents itself as an opportunity for customers to be fully present with one another, an experience uncommon in American bar culture.
Awake is located at 2240 Clay Street. The coffee bar is open from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and the bar and eatery will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday beginning May 8. You can also purchase items from Awake's bottle shop online for pick-up and delivery. Call 720-379-7665 or see Awake's website for details and ordering.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.