Love them or loathe them, the British pub is a central feature of the social scene of this country. This could be changing as the UK's first "Dry Bar" has opened it's doors in Liverpool. With the atmosphere of a pub but without the alcohol, this new establishment has already begun to gain regulars from many different walks of life.Liverpool has a mixed reputation with alcohol. As well as being known for its high statistics of alcohol abuse (it has the highest rate of hospital admissions linked to alcohol) it is also recognised as “the recovery capital”. These two paradoxical images are clearly two sides of the same coin, but it shows that the people of Liverpool are actively tackling, and succeeding in confronting, its alcohol issues. Good news this week was the opening of the first dry bar, which was met with a great deal of praise not only by professionals working in the addiction industry, but people who just fancy a night out without the shadow of demon drink.
A dry bar? Isn’t that a café?
Some may consider a dry bar no more than a café, but both environments offer a startlingly different structure. A dry bar offers the same ambience as a traditional public house, or Inn, where you go to meet your friends, date, chat and socialise in an evening time. A café is a place where you are more likely to go on your own for a quick cuppa, or catch a quick bite while shopping. The Brink dry bar in Liverpool is an initiative originally masterminded by the alcohol charity Action on Addiction and is a social enterprise run by a limited company.
Helping alcohol recovery in the community
The enterprise is not just meant for those people who are recovering from the excesses of alcohol abuse - the owners of the Brink have found it is encouraging a diverse clientele. Many people who enjoy the bar are those people who, in the words of the manager, Carl Alerdice, just want an evening away from the“testosterone, drunk and drug-fuelled club and bar scene”. Single women especially find the Brink a safe place to be. Muslims who do not drink alcohol because of their religion have also become regulars.
There is no getting away from the fact that as the first dry bar in Britain this will help addicts on discharge from an alcohol rehab centre. It will offer a safe haven that is not just peopled by recovering addicts but people from all walks of life. The Brink could offer a much more normal social situation. The staff are largely from backgrounds where there have been issues with alcohol and they are trained as “alcohol champions”. There are also meeting rooms and a counselor who visits regularly.
As well as providing a great resource for alcohol and addiction recovery it also helps integrate those treatment issues successfully into the community and offer those who have struggled to find work after addiction a secure place to work where they can use their skills and experiences. The owners of the Brink are hoping this project will spread to other towns and cities in the UK.