Boston’s First Non-Alcoholic Liquor Store Comes to the South End

Dray Drinks has everything you need to make at-home mocktails—and more.

Shelves of bottles and cans line a nonalcoholic bottle shop.

Dray Drinks. / Photo by Elisabeth Hadjis

Tucked away on a cobblestone side street of the South End, a new store with big orange double doors beckons the sober, sober-curious, or, really, anyone thirsty. Dray Drinks is Boston’s first liquor store dedicated to selling only non-alcoholic liquors, beers, wines, canned cocktails, and more. The name refers to old-timey wagons traditionally used to transport beer barrels, in both an homage to founder Pat Dooling’s St. Louis roots (home of the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales horses, who pulled dray wagons) and a play on the phrase “on the wagon.” Dooling, a South End resident and zero-proof connoisseur, is boldly ushering the city further into change, in protest of Boston’s notoriously alcohol-centric culture.

A man in flannel over an orange shirt stands in front of shelves full of cans on nonalcoholic drinks.

Pat Dooling of Dray Drinks. / Photo by Elisabeth Hadjis

Dooling stopped drinking alcohol during the pandemic and discovered the non-alcoholic beverage market. “I was seeing a huge demand,” he says. “I was also seeing lots of cool products and a lot of innovation. I wanted to be in the industry and add something to it. When I saw that Boston didn’t have anything in terms of a dedicated concept, I thought this was an easy entry point.” Indeed, one 2023 survey suggests that a third of Americans are looking to decrease their alcohol consumption. Young adults, in particular, have been turning away from alcohol more than previous generations. Last month’s opening of Dray Drinks marked a huge career pivot for Dooling—who previously worked in real estate and investment banking—and a big step for Boston’s zero-proof drinking scene.

Dray Drinks is brimming with over 200 different products, from Spiritless’ Kentucky 74 spiced cinnamon whiskey to local brand Tilden’s bottled non-alcoholic cocktails. Despite the large number of offerings, each item stocked at Dray Drinks was chosen with intention and care. “I’ve tried everything in the store at some point,” says Dooling. “They’re all different, and if it’s in stock, then we like it.”

Bottled and canned nonalcoholic wine lines several shelves in a store, alongside a sign that says wine that won't make you whine.

Dray Drinks. / Photo by Elisabeth Hadjis

There are primarily two kinds of products in the spirit-free beverage space: those that aim to mimic the taste of alcoholic drinks, and those that are something entirely new. Zero-proof wine, for example, is made using the same traditional methods as alcoholic wine, but then put through a process known as de-alcoholization, which removes the ethanol from the liquid and leaves the wine with a crisp, familiar flavor. Standout zero-proof wines on Dray’s shelves include the floral Giesen merlot from New Zealand and the dry, fruity Oddbird sparkling rosé from France. As for the entirely new, one example from Dray’s shelves is Shimmerwood Beverage’s warm and woodsy chai cherry CBD seltzer drink. Despite the “seltzer” in the name, think of it as a unique (and refreshing!) beverage, not an imitation of a hard seltzer.

Interior of a nonalcoholic bottle shop with a large marble island and a bright mural featuring an orange Bronco.

Dray Drinks. / Photo by Elisabeth Hadjis

The store’s airy space has a giant marble island in the center, ideal for hosting tastings and other mixology-themed events. A massive mural provides a fitting backdrop, featuring an orange Bronco (Dooling and mural artist Liv Mileika’s take on a modern-day dray) alongside sparkling (presumably zero-proof) wine being poured into glasses.

Other than retail and events, Dray Drinks has a bigger, community-oriented mission at the center of its business. Through non-profit affiliate Dray’s Better Days, a portion of all the shop’s profits goes towards local addiction and recovery causes. “The idea is that we can extend the reach and give people help,” says Dooling, “for people who can’t make that change or choice themselves.”

Shelves of bottles and cans line a nonalcoholic bottle shop.

Dray Drinks. / Photo by Elisabeth Hadjis

Whether you’re avoiding a hangover, going sober, or curious about the latest trends and developments in the beverage space, Dray Drinks has a lot in store for the city of Boston. In the near future, Dray plans to host mixology events led by local bartenders and chefs; collaborate with local wellness and fitness businesses; and, hopefully, inspire more zero-proof options at restaurants all around the city.

“Every time somebody walks through the door and buys a non-alcoholic drink instead of an alcoholic one, I feel like we’ve done a really positive thing,” says Dooling.

An orange, square-shaped sign that says Dray NA Bottle Shop hangs outside a city window.

Dray Drinks. / Photo by Elisabeth Hadjis

18 Union Park St., South End, Boston,