Sober Life

Saxbys Is Launching a Line of Booze-Free Drinks — and They’re the Most Refreshing

With its Free Spirit collection, the locally based coffee shop is trying to become younger generations' social destination.


saxbys free spirit

Tomorrow, Locally based coffee shop Saxbys is launching booze-free takes on cocktails at all of its locations. / Photograph by Stu Goldberg

Traditionally, Memorial Day oozes of barbecues, beach trips, and booze, booze, booze. As the unofficial start of summer, the holiday marks the beginning of outdoor drinking season, when alcohol often becomes even more intertwined in everyday life.

The future, though, seems like it might look quite a bit different. Younger folks are imbibing less, and it’s forcing brewers and bars to reconsider their strategies. Entrepreneurs, too, are capitalizing on the shift; last month, we wrote about a local woman who swapped her career in software sales to start a mocktail company.

Now a locally based coffee shop is getting in on the zero-proof game. Starting tomorrow, Saxbys will launch its Free Spirit line of cocktail-inspired (but booze-free) drinks. “Half of our guests are in college,” says Russ Wilkin, the director of marketing at Saxbys. “They’re not drinking as much as previous generations, but they’re still looking for social connection. We thought, ‘How can we be the most convenient social place for millennials and Gen Z to go out to that doesn’t require drinking?’”

Enter refreshing bevs like the Cold Brew Sangria Spritz, an Aperol Spritz-esque drink that steeps an orange in cold brew coffee to produce an alcoholic flavor that surprises your taste buds. And the Raspberry Breeze, which combines pineapple juice, sparkling water, and unsweetened raspberry tea for a take on a Sea Breeze or Bay Breeze. (This one is technically a secret menu item that you can only order through the Saxbys app.)

saxbys free spirit

The Sangria Spritz — with orange-steeped cold brew — is Saxbys’ take on the Aperol Spritz. / Photograph by Stu Goldberg

The Philly House Punch is Saxbys’ ode to the city, taking inspiration from the potent Fish House Punch (rum, cognac, and peach brandy) at local institutions like the Olde Bar with its bourbon-extract-infused peach syrup base.

saxbys free spirit

Saxbys’ Philly House Punch is Fish House Punch without the hangover the next day. / Photograph by Stu Goldberg

Our favorite, though, was the Espresso Tonic, a simple mix of Saxbys espresso, Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic water, and a lemon wheel — a brilliant fusion of two drinks that are delicious by themselves but level up when served together.

saxbys free spirit

The Espresso Tonic uses Fever-Tree’s floral tonic water to balance the bitterness of the coffee. / Photograph by Stu Goldberg

They’re all the brainchildren of Ally Zeitz, Saxbys’ new culinary director, who previously ran the food lab at Drexel University. “I’m seeing more people be sober curious,” she says. “I want them to have a place to go where they feel comfortable.”

The Free Spirit drinks cost $4.50 each and will be available at all Saxbys locations through the end of July. So, for once, friends, ditch the patio and get thee to the coffee shop.

Let’s get social! Join Be Well Philly at:
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | NEWSLETTER | TWITTER