The Manchester 'alcohol-free bar' that’s changing how we go out

It's exactly the same as every other bar... just without the booze

By Ben Arnold | 11 January 2024

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When Karl Considine would go out, he’d always be the one to take things too far. “I was always ‘that friend’ in the group,” he says. “Always wanted to carry on, at the end of the night, I’d always want to go on, go to another club. I was drinking heavily every day, I was a day drinker, drinking in the evenings.”

Then, in 2021, he decided to take charge of his life again. He went into treatment, and hasn’t drunk since.

“My story was on the more severe end of the scale,” he says. “So I didn’t need just therapy and help, I needed medical support to stop drinking to make sure I was doing it safely.” 

He’s three years sober this month, and he’s got his life back again. But actually, he’s got quite a lot more than that.

Karl Considine Love From

Staying on top of an addiction can be a full-time job for some, but Karl has managed to turn his new life and his journey to sobriety into his job. 

In just a few short months, he’s launched Love From, his no-alcohol bar concept, started a podcast on sober living called What Next, become an ambassador for the charity Alcohol Change UK (which is behind Dry January) and is even out on the guest speaking circuit, doing talks for retail giants like Amazon and Boohoo.

The first Love From pop-up happened in October last year – coinciding with Sober October – at the bungalow venue at Kampus, and was a wild success. So they’ve bought him back, and this longer residency will go on until the spring.

There will be open mic nights, DJs, quiz nights, talks, workshops, even a dog-based dating night called Puppy Love. Karl will also be getting involved with the neighbourhood too – doing a no-booze margs hook up with taco peddlers Madre, and another with nearby cocktail bar Red Light, while pizza will be coming in from Nell’s next door (you’ll be able to order from your table and have it delivered).

One thing this isn’t, though, is an AA meeting. It’s as far from that as could be. “Love From is not something for solely sober people, we’re a safe space for sober people, but we’re open to everyone, whether you’re sober, whether you drink regularly or whether you’re thinking about cutting back, it’s a space for everyone,” says Karl. 

“Mindful drinking, that’s something people talk about a lot. It’s important to me that we’re just here as an alternative.”

“What people struggle with is ‘but what will I do’? There is an alternative. There are perceptions that [Love From] is like a coffee shop or something. 

“What I’m creating is the experience of being in a bar, there’s just no booze. We’ve got like-for-like drinks, we’ve got DJs, we’ve got live music. There’s just no alcohol.”

What there is, however, is a host of great cocktails, non-alcohol alternatives to the Cosmo and the Pornstar Martini, using alternative non-alcoholic mixers from independent producers like Everleaf and Pentire, as well as a great alcohol free prosecco.

Love From

On the beer tap is Free Damm, the non-alcoholic beer made by Spanish brewer Estrella Damm, which unlike most low or no-alcohol beers, is ‘de-alcoholised’ after brewing. It would be hard to tell that it’s non-alcoholic.

A staggering 8.5 million people are taking part in Dry January this year. “That’s a massive proportion of society saying ‘I want a month off!’,” says Karl.

“When I got sober, this sort of thing didn’t exist. It’ll sound conflicted, but if someone had said to me back then ‘Karl, do you want to go to an alcohol-free bar?’ I wouldn’t have been interested, because I liked to drink. But this is a credible alternative. 

“People will catch on to the fact that they can still have a nice cocktail, I can still have a decent beer, and still have that experience. Just without the headache of getting drunk.”

Love From opens at the bungalow at Kampus from Friday 12 January.

Follow Love From on Instagram here…