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Wisconsin’s first non-alcoholic bottle shop opens in Middleton

Source: Savanna Tomei-Olson | Civic Media

Wisconsin’s first non-alcoholic bottle shop opens in Middleton

In a state known for its drinking culture, Sober Social offers a way to participate without alcohol.

May 30, 2024 2:08 PM CDT

By: Savanna Tomei-Olson

MIDDLETON, Wis. (WMDX) – A new shop offers margaritas, whiskey and beer. None of it has alcohol. Sober Social is the first nonalcoholic bottle shop in Wisconsin.

Kristi Tanner never expected to be a business owner. She’s a single mom of four, with a busy fulfilled life.

She’s also almost five years sober.

“I was really scared to get sober because I thought if I get sober, I’ll never be able to socialize again,” Tanner said. “Where will I do this? I live in Wisconsin, the land of cheese and beer. Where am I going to go and not feel othered?”

Years later, that idea inspired her to create Sober Social. She carries nonalcoholic spirits, beers and wines.

“It’s for anyone who is looking to really own their relationship with alcohol rather than alcohol owning you,” she said. “If you’re looking to drink less, you can have the same tasting things from my shop without the alcohol. You love an Old Fashioned, I’ve got a nonalcoholic whiskey and nonalcoholic orange bitters.”

This is a bold move in Wisconsin, which is home to 41 of the nation’s 50 drunkest counties.

People with all kinds of reasons for preferring a cocktail have come into the shop so far. She had one customer who loves a classic Old Fashioned, and liked the idea of a nonalcoholic one afterward. Nonalcoholic products can help people drink in moderation.

“What I’m hearing is not stories of lack. I’m not hearing stories of addiction,” Tanner said. “I’m hearing stories of people wanting to live, wanting to participate. And this is how they know how to do it.”

Sober Social is open Wednesday through Saturday in Middleton.

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