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Brighton's alcohol-free bar closes: Farewell to Tørstigbar

Updated: Feb 11

In sad news, Brighton's Tørstigbar has today announced that it is closing its doors effective immediately.


Tørstigbar's Luke & Emmi sitting on stools in their bar while it was still open
Tørstigbar's Luke & Emmi. Image credit Kitty Wheeler Shaw

Luke and Emmi opened Brighton's first alcohol-free bar in November 2022. They've had a tumultuous ride since then with complaints, council visits and intellectual property battles, but they've also been championed, praised and lorded by those who cross their threshold.


 A recent pop-up bar in London saw them named the official bar of Dry January by Alcohol Change UK, and things seemed to be going from strength to strength. They even shared an excellent feature in this magazine's Christmas/Dry January issue, sharing some invaluable tips on setting up your home low/no bar.


So it saddens me and many in our community to read their latest (and last) post announcing that the married duo will be closing the bars to their Brighton venue indefinitely and that the whispered plans to make the London pop-up a permanent fixture will not be seeing the light in the foreseeable future.



Why? Well, it appears, contrary to what some may surmise, that Luke and Emmi are, in part, at least, victims of their own success. The bar was undoubtedly a success. Frequently busy with rave reviews from local fans, but hospitality is not child's play. Making a bar profitable while keeping your customers happy is a battle I know only too well. Luckily for me, it was a) my only full-time job and b) not my bar (or my money).


To support the business while keeping costs manageable for their guests, Luke and Emmi both held down full-time jobs outside of Tørstigbar. Maintaining that kind of workload is a lot for anyone to handle, no matter how passionate you are about your venture.


The flip side of the coin is the obvious struggles in building and maintaining a 100% alcohol-free bar in a world that, while open to the concept of moderation, is still very much ensconced in the land of liquor. The numbers are there, and they tell us that up to 75% of legal drinking-age adults across the 10 major territories (UK, USA, France, Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada, Brazil, and South Africa) are now moderating their alcohol intake*, with 45% switching between low/no and full-strength drinks on the same occasion**. So does that mean that completely booze-free bars do not offer the variety people want? Or do we just need to get the word out to more people? I don't know the answer, and sadly, for now, neither does Tørstigbar.


In their farewell (hopefully just for no rather than forever) post, Luke and Emmi said:




From all here at Low No Drinker, Luke and Emmi, we hope to see you again soon.


 

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