sf needs more zero proof happy hours


reflecting on a fun event for biotech and hard tech founders.

'what?! if there are no drinks, what will be behind the bar?'

this is the reaction i got from multiple people when planning a zero proof happy hour.

i choose not to drink alcohol anymore and so i make water based mocktails. with this constraint, i wanted to design an event that was about genuine connection and not about the liquid in the cup in hand for a social lubrication.

it worked so well, we had to close down the space 1hr after the supposed ending. people really enjoyed the full experience, especially authentically connecting.

here's how i did it:

  1. space matters. we hosted it in a place set up for community gatherings called studio 45. the image above on the right shows the hand made wooden interior and deep blue walls. on arrival, peopel know this is not a standard bar event, therefore their expectations change for a non standard mixer.
  2. people matter. i intentionally made it a mixer between builders + friends in bio and hardware. this was inspired by the intersection trilo bio is operating at in lab automation. when they were hiring their first electrical engineer, i didn't even know personally where to look as i didn't think enough people on either side of the line knew each other. it created a unique atmosphere of people who enjoy working on hard problems.
  3. start strong. on arrival, the door was locked. the 'ticket' in was a we're not really strangers card with a question on it. this acted as the ticket for a drink. it gave something for people to hold onto and acted as an onboarding experience for expectation setting. as i ran the bar, people had to ask the question on the card to get their zero proof beverage. it took the intention of authentically connecting and put it front and center, literally, while also giving everyone a shared experience to start.

we also had liquid death mineral water, which was a crowd pleaser. it looks like a craft brew, but it's water. sparkling water. would have again.

hydrating on water, in a good space with good people, helped create an intentional experience that i look forward to making more of for the sf tough tech ecosystem.

if you liked this, have feedback, or more resources to share, send me a note.

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