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Clarity Lounge To Bring Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Manhattan Beach

Jun 03, 2022 09:45AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Manhattan Beach, here's your chance to try out a growing and health-inspired trend: Non-alcoholic spirits.

Local resident Kate Danaj has launched Clarity Zero-Proof Lounge, a non-alcoholic pop-up tasting room that will make its debut at this weekend's Manhattan Wine Auction.

Danaj aims to offer high-quality and delicious non-alcoholic alternatives that can appeal to a wide range of people who for various reasons are either abstaining from alcohol or cutting back on their drinking.

“I’m thrilled that these new non-alcoholic beverage options exist, and yet I find that most people are still unaware that they do," said Danaj. "Building awareness and education is part of the mission of Clarity Lounge.”

Danaj also aims to break some of the stigma surrounding those who choose not to drink for any number of reasons. "It is something that I think people don’t like to talk about; they feel like it’s a little bit of a shameful thing," she said. "I want to offer something delicious and social and fun for everybody. Inclusivity is part of it, wellness is part of it - it’s just something I’m really passionate about."

A Journey Into the Zero-Alcohol World

Danaj said that in the past few years or so, she realized that if she avoided alcohol, she would find herself feeling better with more energy and more productivity.

She started doing research about the benefits of avoiding alcohol - and also about the burgeoning industry of non-alcoholic spirits, which are most definitely not your grandmother's Martinelli's. ("They taste wonderful," she notes. "You can have a great bottle of wine, or an amazing margarita that tastes incredibly close to the real thing.")

Non-alcoholic spirits such as wine are generally created by making the alcoholic spirit first, then removing the alcohol, and then adding aromatics and other flavors back in. In some cases, non-alcoholic spirits are created from scratch using herbal elements. For example, Tost is a line of non-alcoholic wine created from tea.

The alcohol-free movement has also been attracting a variety of innovators, many of whom are already stars in the culinary and wine world. All the Bitter, for example, was founded by two former sommeliers from The French Laundry who decided to adopt an alcohol-free lifestyle.

Another non-alcoholic wine, Joyus, recently won a gold medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition in a blind tasting.

While learning about these and other leaders in the non-alcoholic drink industry, Danaj recently completed the SansBar Academy – a comprehensive 10-week instructional course on opening booze-free drinking spaces.

'Zebra-Striping' at the Wine Auction

So why bring alcohol-free drinks to a wine auction? 

A few years ago Danaj helped a friend pour wines at the wine auction. She said she remembers thinking, "Gosh, for people who are here who don’t drink, wouldn't it be amazing if there was something delicious to drink besides water?"

This year, she brought the Clarity Lounge idea to wine auction organizers, who agreed that it would be a great fit.

“We’re excited to offer something excellent for everyone," said David Brennan, director of development and partnerships for Manhattan Beach Education Foundation, in a statement. "If you choose not to drink at all, if you’d like to rotate traditional wines with alcohol-free varieties, if you’re the designated driver, if you're an expecting mom, if you’re training for a marathon, or if you simply just don’t wish to drink, we have you covered,” he said.

Danaj added that the drinks she is offering can be enjoyed even by people who want to drink alcohol and enjoy the buzz that alcohol can bring.  (Exhibit A: this week's MB Tuna Melt).

"Some people might want to just switch it up - they call it 'zebra striping' -  where you might have a nonalcoholic drink in between your alcoholic drinks, to help pace yourself," she said. "You can still enjoy the flavors, and you can still enjoy socializing with something in your hand to drink."

Following the wine auction, Danaj plans to do several Manhattan Beach and South Bay pop-up events, with an eye toward securing a permanent location for Clarity Lounge in 2023.

To stay up to date on future events, visit Clarity Lounge or follow them on Instagram at @soberinthesouthbay.

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