December 5, 2023

Nightlife, bars, and even dining out can be a frustration if you don’t drink. Non-alcoholic options are everywhere, but for every non-alcoholic beer-drinking community, here are ten places that will leave you feeling high and thirsty — usually with a soda and lime in hand .

BuzzCutt, a new app from Portland, Oregon, may not change that overnight, but it does aim to guide nondrinkers, prudent drinkers and sober curiosity about the best local options people.The app, now available nationwide iOS and androidGather local hotspots with non-alcoholic options, all in a sunny, yolk-yellow map-based interface that’s easy to use.

BuzzCutt was created by Olivia and Sarah Sears, a gay married couple craving stronger non-alcoholic options after the pandemic prompted some to reflect on their relationship with alcohol. Olivia and Sarah both work full-time in ad tech and launched this app (their first) together to create a tool that they knew would be useful to a lot of people.

Americans are drinking less alcohol than ever (despite prohibition), for reasons ranging from health and wellness to a more open conversation around addiction to shifts in social habits in the wider society.Now more and more people are becoming sober, but a lot of more people Either reduce their drinking, or just become more thoughtful About how and when they drink. BuzzCutt aims to capture the full scope of this experience.

BuzzCutt app

Image credits: BuzzCutt/App Store

“What was really important to us from the beginning of the brand was that we didn’t use language that specifically implied ‘you have to be sober to do this,’” Olivia Sears told TechCrunch in an interview. “We like to think of it as an ‘access point’ for people; BuzzCutt is an entry point for non-alcoholic beverage choices, for whatever reason.”

These reasons have come together in recent years to drive a simultaneous explosion in non-alcoholic beverage options, with fancy bitters, mocktails in cans, NA liquor and non-alcoholic beer everywhere. So far, luckily, a lot of them have turned out really well.

BuzzCutt relies on all of these products to plan local nonalcoholic beverage options, a trick it pulls off by sifting through distribution data and tracking which bars, restaurants, grocery stores and venues stock famous N/A brands. This approach sweeps quite a few options into the app’s catalog, but won’t capture bars that specialize in custom mocktails, for example, if that place also doesn’t have popular N/A brands like Sports Beer, Wilderton’s Wine or something else in BuzzCutt’s stream.

The app rolled out its core functionality this week, but BuzzCutt’s finale is much more involved. For now, enthusiastic users can flag missing entries in the app’s catalog, as is the case with escaping the legendary mocktail menu in the database, but the app generally plans to add more community features across the board.

The two app founders have fun at a fundraiser celebrating the launch of BuzzCutt

Sarah and Olivia Sears, founders of BuzzCutt

“Right now, it’s pretty simple; we want to make sure we have a really solid framework of tools for people to master,” Sears said.

BuzzCutt users can also rate and leave tips for different locations collected in the app. The team initially planned to bring in outside reviews for its indexed listings, but soon realized that non-drinkers would have a “completely different” perception of bar or restaurant choices. Right now, the app only collects reviews from BuzzCutt’s own community—a smart way to build trust and avoid undercutting its much-needed utility.

“[The local bar]might be really cool, but for someone who’s as uncomfortable as a giant fucking wall of whiskey, it’s probably not the kind of vibe,” Sears said. “This can show up in user-generated reports about the place.”

As funding permits, BuzzCutt plans to add user profiles and other social features, as well as news and deals of interest to sober and sober adjacent users who are increasingly building communities around no- or low-alcohol lifestyles .

“The community is huge, especially for sober, sober curious (and) conscious drinkers — you know, love getting resources and support that way,” Sears told TechCrunch. “So this is definitely the next phase for us.”

In BuzzCutt, users can filter local results by category (sports bars, pubs, etc.), drink type (spirits, bitters, canned mocktails, etc.), and popular N/A brands they’ve been working closely with. The brand filter option is especially useful because not all N/A options are created equal, and sane people (including this author) go to great lengths to find their favourites.

Personally, I’d drive halfway across the state if it meant I could enjoy my favorite non-alcoholic wine in a restaurant instead of in the kitchen. Before I quit drinking many years ago, I definitely took the luxury of having a rich, quality drink for granted, and when you really take it seriously, it involves a surprisingly large amount of social ritual.

Due to the relative lack of alcohol-free options, sober and sober people tend to Very They’ll be motivated and enthusiastic when it comes to finding products they love and recreating social rituals they may have missed (happy hour, pre-games, wine tasting…it’s a big list!).

That same passion, and a desire to unlock more non-alcoholic options—so people can enjoy more activities without drinking—drives the BuzzCutt team, and ultimately the communities it plans to serve.

“That stuff was too powerful for us,” Sears said. “I definitely want to ride the wave of people’s curiosity and see it as an exploration.”