Sober in Vegas: Q & A with local Vegas bartender Bobby Franks

Recently I have been inspired by some incredible work that Marnie Rae is doing.

If you aren’t familiar with her, she’s a writer, instagrammer, and alcohol-free drink activist who views the ‘soft-cocktail,’ ie. an alcohol-free beverage crafted with fresh and flavorful ingredients such as simple syrup, fruit puree’s, herbs and spices.

She’s been working with bartenders, restaurant professionals, and chefs to create beverages that feel grown up and thoughtful for people who aren’t drinking alcohol.

On her website she says what I’ve had a hard time vocalizing as a sober person–that we want to feel included:

“While most of the content here is focused directly on recipes for amazing soft cocktails, I also have a firm belief that this is about a much bigger picture than a beverage. This is about making people feel welcome, included, thought of, and a part of something. I bet you didn’t know you could do that with a cocktail did you?”

Her work inspired me to reach out to a few folks here in Las Vegas about different options if a non-drinker wants to venture out on the town.

I love the idea that Las Vegas can be for ALL of us, even non-drinkers.

And there are so many reasons outside of sobriety that someone may be at a bar and not drinking–maybe they’re getting over a cold, maybe they’re on a diet, maybe they’re expecting, maybe they’re doing a dry month, or maybe they just want to try something different!

Bobby Franks was generous enough to be the first bartender and cocktail room manager to do a Q & A with me about non-alcoholic offerings he crafts in town for customers.

A huge thanks to Bobby for taking the time to talk, and a special thanks to Justin Favelafor the email introduction.

Downtown Cocktail Room’s Exterior

Where do you bartend?  I currently bartend and manage at Downtown Cocktail Room and its adjacent bar, Mike Morey’s Sip n Tip

What’s a mocktail you like to create when a customer asks for something special and non-alcohlic?

I always tend to grab a bottle of Trader Joe’s brand Balsamic Glaze and start with that. The tannins from the balsamic tend to mock the flavor profiles found in aged spirits, which makes sense as balsamic vinegar is essentally purposely spoiled wine left in oak barrels to age and achieve different flavors. After that, I pick the guests brain on flavor profiles they enjoy and a direction I should head into. Right now I’m big on a Balsamic/Coconut Water/Pineapple Juice combination that seems to go over quite well. 

What advice would you give a non-drinker trying to order a non-alcohlic beverage at a bar or restaurant that doesn’t seem to have anything printed on the menu?Know and understand your surroundings. A dive bar isn’t going to have options outside of what’s on there soda guns, or maybe a N/A beer option. If the restaurant or bar has a cocktail menu, I’d say it would be safe to ask your bartender or server for non-alcoholic, or ‘mocktail’ options. 

Thanks Bobby for being willing to craft us sober-folk something awesome! (Photo by Ian Maltzman, provided by Bobby Franks)

What’s your favorite non-alcoholic beverage?

Most definitely Dr. Pepper in a can, with IBC rootbeer and Mexican made Squirt in a bottle tying for second place. I’m a soda pop guy, I guess. 

I am so grateful to Bobby for being willing to offer his thoughts and I can’t wait to try his balsamic, coconut water, pineapple juice creation! Thank you Bobby!

4 thoughts on “Sober in Vegas: Q & A with local Vegas bartender Bobby Franks

  1. Hi! Loving Marnie Rae’s site, thanks for sharing. In general I prefer soda/lime because it’s cheap, caffeine/sugar free. Some restaurants (Red Robin) do not charge for it so I feel like I’m getting away with something. However, occasionally I like mocktail option and do not want to be looked at askance.

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