In 2019, Christy and Billy Wynne from Denver were in France’s wine country, where they had fled to live with their two children for a year. In this unlikely place, they decided to stop drinking alcohol.
At first when they moved there was “a steady stream of visitors and the rosé flowed,” said Christy. After the visits wore off and the season changed, the couple and their marriage looked closely and came to similar conclusions.
“I was in the middle of life feeling a little off the rails and I knew in the back of my mind that alcohol was the problem,” said Christy.
“I had to be honest with myself about my relationship with alcohol,” said Billy, who owns a consulting firm. “It was impossible to overlook the fact that this created a filter between me and my life.”
When you go
Awake is now open at 2240 N. Clay St. The bar is a daytime coffee shop, serving Queen City coffee and Aspen Baking Company pastries Monday through Wednesday from 6:30 am to 3:00 pm. Thursday to Sunday the shop opens in the mornings and also as a fully stocked bar during the following hours of the day and evening: Thursday from 5pm to 8pm; Friday from 5pm to 10pm; Saturday from 12pm to 10pm and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm.
In addition to the sober drinks, the menu also includes small snacks, shared plates and “handcrafted grilled cheese”. For more information, call 720-379-7665 or visit awakedenver.com (where you can also browse the bottle shop online).
Fast forward to 2021, and the Wynnes are back in Denver opening a bar together – sober.
Awake is the first of its kind in Denver bringing a non-alcoholic beer, wine, and cocktail destination to a city that prides itself on drinking local alcohol and leading an active, healthy lifestyle.
“It’s really about keeping the sophistication (bar culture) there,” Christy said of her goal for Awake. “It is really important to be able to participate in this (drinking) ritual in a clever way. So you are not the person at the children’s table.”
Awake is a bright but date-worthy space with plenty of outdoor seating, a wall of windows that opens onto the terrace, and a lovely bar area where you can choose drinks from around 40 soft drinks and then enjoy (and count) them. .
The Wynnes sell well-known brands such as Seedlip distilled non-alcoholic spirits and Gruvis 0% beers and wines. But you also have a whole range of non-alcoholic spirits, beers and wines from international production to discover.
Some of their favorites are the citrus and CBD aplós; Ghia French aperitif; herbaceous and sea-salty pentire from the Cornish coast; and Monday Gin that drinks like a London dry. Giesen’s non-alcoholic white wine from New Zealand smells and tastes just like her favorite Sauvignon Blanc, said Christy.
When they first returned from France and looked for alternatives to alcohol in the US, there were very few options, the Wynnes agreed. But two years later, the couple can be selective in their choices as they stock Awake’s growing bar and bottle shop.
“The competition is good because it forces everyone to have the best products,” said Christy.
“It feels like a noticeable trend,” added Billy.
Last year, the Honey Elixir Bar was opened in the heart of the RiNo art district and serves as many non-alcoholic as juicy drinks. And Longmont’s Bootstrap Brewing recently started making an alcohol-free IPA in addition to its regular beer range.
RELATED: A New Generation Of Bars In Denver Is Targeting A Different Audience: People Who Don’t Drink
While Awake is the first of Denver’s 10,000 bars to open, it probably won’t be the last. But the Wynnes are on a mission that’s bigger than just drinking the latest trend or not.
For her part, Christy has transitioned from a career as a certified medical assistant to sobriety and general coaching for women. And Awake is one way to move that work forward.
“This drinking epidemic has really hit women,” Christy said. “(The alcohol industry) has led women to believe that we need (alcohol) to be a mother, that we need it to deal with it, we need it at birthday parties, for socializing, everything.”
That’s why she teaches drinkers, and women in particular, the role alcohol plays in everything from liver disease to hormonal imbalances and cancer. She said, “As a society, it will be difficult to ignore them at some point.”
But at Awake, the mood is more upbeat, inclusive and focused on giving back. So if you’re not sober, sober, and curious, or abstain for the night, there’s another reason to visit: the bar donates 20% of its profits to a different charity every month.
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