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Free Spirit in Buckingham embodies push for nonalcoholic drinks


While alcohol is an ubiquitous part of our society, there’s a growing trend to bring alcohol-free options to those looking for a change.

In the Buckingham Green Shopping Center, Christa Vigilante is doing just that.

“I got tired of only having club soda and cranberry juice,” joked Vigilante, 44, who gave up alcohol about five years ago, saying, “it didn’t serve me anymore.”

To create an inviting space for others like her and people wanting delicious cocktails that didn’t include alcohol, she opened Free Spirit. The zero bar and bottle shop, which also sells hemp candles, soaps and clothing, offers everything from Bennu’s canned cocktails to major labels such as Seedlip, Ritual to Allay’s dealcoholized wine with ashuagandha and much more.

Much like any bar, Free Spirit has tables, high-tops and bar seating. There’s also THC beverages and cannabinoid drinks.

The clientele, said Vigilante, is diverse. “We have Gen Z, millennials…people in their early 20s to folks in their 80s and pregnant women. “Thirty-seven percent of people in the U.S. don’t drink and forty-percent of the world population,” noted the Bucks County native.

“Alcohol is the only drug people will pressure you to use,” Vigilante said. At Free Spirit, she’s serving those who have felt “othered…making them feel included.”

She’s also joining like-minded entrepreneurs recognizing the expanding desire to have nonalcoholic choices at places like Free Spirit but also at their favorite bars that serve alcohol.

In 2022, sales of nonalcoholic beer, wine and spirits accounted for 0.47% of total alcohol sales in the U.S. While this is still a small figure, the percentage share has steadily grown over the past five years, according to reporting in Forbes magazine.

• In 2021: it was 0.39% of total alcohol sales

• In 2020: 0.30% of total alcohol sales

• In 2019: 0.26% of total alcohol sales

• In 2018: 0.22% of total alcohol sales

“Alcohol abuse is not as casual as it used to be,” noted the Bucks County native. Businesses like Free Spirit “will become common place.”

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