KINGSTON, Washington — An entrepreneur and blogger from Kingston is on a mission to make alcohol-free cocktails more mainstream.
"I kind of compare it to, if you're gluten-free or vegetarian and you're going out with your friends, you would prefer to be able to have something to eat with them, as well,” she said.
Clark loves going out with friends or her husband, but she doesn’t drink. Not anymore.
"It's just the usual story,” she said. “It was good until it wasn't good, and I had a particularly ugly evening at an elementary school fundraiser. And I knew that night when I got home that that was going to be the last time."
She's more than 15 years sober. But "virgin" drinks have always made her feel like she's sitting at the kids' table.
"They're usually very sweet, they're usually in a big pint glass with a straw, so options are limited," she said.
She decided to create her own options and partnered with a recipe developer to innovate so-called "soft cocktails.” Ingredients include dry soda, herbs and spices, and fresh juice.
Clark calls them, "Really beautiful, clean tasting, delicious grown-up drinks."
The recipes are available on her website and Clark said they’re relevant to anyone who’s looking for an alternative to alcohol, whether they’re in recovery, starting a new diet, training for an athletic event, or facing a health issue.
"It doesn't always have to be about the booze. I want to go to a restaurant or a bar with my friends who drink and be able to sit down next to them having a drink and I want to be able to enjoy my evening and my experience as well,” she said. "We can all have a great time together, drinking or not."
Clark is now actively working with local restaurants to develop alternative cocktail menus.
Calypso in Edmonds features a “Marnie-approved” list of drinks.
"It's not just a Shirley Temple or a Roy Rogers, it's something somebody put some thought and preparation into,” said chef and owner Michael Scott Chambers. “(Customers) want the cocktail to look just as beautiful as anything would if it had alcohol in it."
Clark is hosting a pop-up soft cocktail bar in Georgetown on Thursday, in honor of National Mocktail Week.
"This is not an anti-alcohol movement, it's just about being more inclusive,” she said, “It feels nice to know someone's thought of you and taken your life into consideration."