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A Dry Bar in Liverpool, England, Swims Against the Tide

Opening a "so-bar" in a notoriously hard-drinking city is brave, but will it survive?


The Brink: the way forward? Photo via

By Marlow Riley


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England: home of rampant alcohol abuse. But the northern city of Liverpool—with an even higher percentage of binge drinkers than the national average, according to a 2008 NHS study—is making a valiant effort to change. September saw the opening of The Brink: a new kind of bar, without the fights, the puke and most importantly, the booze. Funded through a charity called Action on Addiction, it's described as a dry bar or, if you will, a "so-bar." One of The Brink's goals is to supply a hip way for people in recovery to reorganize their social lives, and offer a place to go that feels like home (a bar) without the attendant dangers of the usual nightspots. It's received some favorable press. But the question is whether the bar can sell enough virgin cocktails—in Liverpool, of all places—to survive and support a staff without charging exorbitant amounts for liquor. As (wet) bar owner Matt Spencer says, "It's more of a hip version of AA, but unless someone's offering to pay the rent, I can't see how it can make money."

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