Vertex Coffee Roasters, the newly opened cafe at the corner of South University and Washtenaw, is looking to expand beyond coffee with a monthly mocktail event designed to attract students and others looking for a nonalcoholic way to spend an evening.
Taking place every Thursday and Friday between 5-8 p.m., the dry bar is co-owner Kara Huckabone’s way of increasing the reach of her coffee shop into the evening, while at the same time serving as a safe place for those in recovery or for whom going to a bar is otherwise unappealing.
“We are on a street that is very heavy with nightlife,” Huckabone explains, “so we were thinking about how we could maybe be a part of that. And in Ann Arbor, there’s really no place that serves as a dry bar.
“A lot of places serve alcohol with mocktails, but there’s still alcohol. We kept thinking, there are people that either don’t drink or aren’t old enough to drink, or just don’t really want to be around alcohol, and we could maybe be that place for people to hang out in the evening.”
Two of the Vertex staff came up with the menu items, which range from a Tim Collins–a play on a Tom Collins with a spiced juniper simple syrup and lemon–to a shandy made with lemonade and Milan Coffee Works’ hopped, flash-chilled coffee.
While it’s still early days for the mocktail evenings, Huckabone has been in touch with U-M’s Collegiate Recovery Program and hopes to encourage other groups such as religious organizations to attend in the future. “We’re trying to spread the learning and get more people in the door,” Huckabone says. “It’s very much like a little baby: it’s fun to watch it grow.”