Q&A With Minus Moonshine: A Liquor Store That Doesn’t Sell Alcohol

Minus Moonshine

Photo Courtesy of Juan Beltran / Minus Moonshine

Craving an adult beverage? Here’s some alcohol.

If you’re 21 or older, the next party you go to will probably have alcoholic drinks, but it might not have much else. Adults who don’t drink alcohol, or who are trying to cut back, may find themselves awkwardly scanning trays of boozy concoctions—or eyeing up the kids’ table instead.

Aqxyl Storms, who co-founded the Brooklyn-based nonalcoholic liquor store Minus Moonshine, said adults are too often left out of “fun” beverages if they don’t drink alcohol.

Launched in 2021, Minus Moonshine sells alcohol replacements, such as nonalcoholic wines, beers, and spiritless whiskeys and gins, as well as mood-enhancing herbal drinks. It offers local deliveries and nationwide shipping. Storms said they see the store as a place where adults can reclaim the fun and joy of drinking, sans booze.

Minus Moonshine isn’t the first spiritless liquor store in New York, but Storms hopes the store can be inclusive, down-to-earth, and accessible for customers regardless of their gender identity or wealth status.

Verywell Health spoke with Storms about the selection at Minus Moonshine, why it’s attractive to customers, and what role the store plays in the nonalcoholic beverage trend.

*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Verywell Health: What was your motivation behind starting Minus Moonshine?

Storms: I did Dry January last year and found alcohol substitutes online that hadn’t been there in the past when I took breaks from drinking. But I couldn’t find these beverages in one local place.

I thought maybe it would be cool if I started a store for people like me, who are maybe not ritzy, or “well to do” or fancy, and that was welcoming to everyone in all walks of life. I thought there had to be people who felt like me, needing a place that felt safe to walk into, whether because they’re queer, or because they go into a really nice shop they don’t feel like they belong.

Aqxyl Storms

It almost feels like adults have been left out of fun beverages if they don’t drink alcohol.

— Aqxyl Storms

Verywell Health: What has been the impact of your store since its launch?

Storms: People have received us very well. I’ve had people come into the store for one specific product, and after they realized everything here is nonalcoholic, they started crying. They’ve had to take a moment because they haven’t had a place like this just for them.

Some people haven’t had options. They’ve been stuck drinking seltzer or maybe soda. It almost feels like adults have been left out of fun beverages if they don’t drink alcohol. Personally, I was making mocktails in my kitchen over a decade ago, trying to make things taste good; that felt special.

Verywell Health: What are some special drink options at Minus Moonshine?

Storms: We have a lot of different selections. We have mixers, syrups, shrubs, alcohol-free bitters, beers, hops, seltzers, and teas. We have wines, canned cocktails, and a lot of CBD drinks—which are really fun.

Then there are the mood-enhancing functional beverages. These don’t really taste like alcohol, but they make you feel great. They contain supplements or adaptogenic herbs.

What Are Adaptogenic Herbs?

Adaptogenic herbs are plants and mushrooms that help relieve stress and promote overall well-being. Some are used to treat pain while others have calming effects. Examples of adaptogenic herbs include ashwagandha, ginseng, and turmeric. However, ashwagandha is not recommended for pregnant people because some evidence shows that it might cause miscarriages.

We also sell botanicals and aperitifs. Aperitifs exist in the alcohol world, too. You can use them in place of vodka or in cocktail recipes. These can be the most intriguing to people who already drink alcohol and already have their favorite gins and whiskies.

Some people experiment with those spirits in combination with their favorite gins or other alcohols. Others like to add some to a gin cocktail to make it a lower alcohol cocktail. And some do what’s called “Zebra striping” where they’ll go back and forth between one alcoholic cocktail, or glass of wine, and then one non-alcoholic.

Verywell Health: How much can these nonalcoholic liquors help someone quit or cut back on drinking?

Storms: Everybody’s journey is different. Nonalcoholic whiskey has helped me avoid drinking for the past two years. I can have a whiskey soda without going to my local dive bar and being hungover the next day.

But some people in recovery might feel like they can’t taste something that mimics what they used to drink. That’s when I direct them to the botanicals or some of the fun adult seltzers that we have. For the most part, people seem excited to have a replacement for the flavor they miss, but they don’t miss the feeling.

Verywell Health: Nonalcoholic drinks are still 21+. Why is that?

Storms: It’s just a federal law. You have to be 18 to purchase CBD and you have to be 21 for nonalcoholic beers and wine.

In a way, the law seems a little outdated because other beverages with low alcoholic content exist on supermarket shelves. Even some bread, or a ripe banana, can have more alcohol than the nonalcoholic beer we sell, which is all under 0.5% alcoholic content. Some nonalcoholic spirits are approved with 1% alcoholic content, but we do not carry those.

Why Does Bread Contain Alcohol?

Bread that’s made with yeast—a major ingredient in beer—produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. Most of the alcohol content evaporates during the baking process, but baked bread can contain tiny amounts of alcohol—mostly under 0.5% (i.e, less than one gram of alcohol per 100 grams of bread), though some bread products like burger rolls may contain more than 1%.

Verywell Health: What does the future hold for nonalcoholic stores like yours?

Storms: This is the future. People don’t want to be hungover. People don’t want to feel crappy, but people want to socialize and have a great time. I see things like these mood-enhancing drinks becoming more popular, and alcohol is going away like tobacco.

What makes me proud is people saying, “Thank you for being here.” It means that all the exhaustion and hard work and longing for a space like this was worth it.

I’m stoked that people wanted this. I’m really thankful for everybody who’s excited about it, and I wouldn’t be here without my community. We really are here for that connection, because there aren’t a lot of places to go to as an adult and not have alcohol.

Is Nonalcoholic Liquor or Wine Safe During Pregnancy?

The research on the safety of nonalcoholic beverages during pregnancy is extremely limited. Nonalcoholic beers, wines, or liquors can still contain a small amount of alcohol, sometimes higher than what’s indicated on the labels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there’s no safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Ashwagandha.

  2. The Alcohol Content of BreadCan Med Assoc J. 1926;16(11):1394-1395.

  3. Adiong JP, Kim E, Koren G, Bozzo P. Consuming non-alcoholic beer and other beverages during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Can Fam Physician. 2014;60(8):724-725.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol use during pregnancy.

By Claire Wolters
Claire Wolters is a staff reporter covering health news for Verywell. She is most passionate about stories that cover real issues and spark change.