Dry bottle shop Ceremony recommends nonalcoholic drinks for the holidays, and a mocktail recipe

Chris Simmonds has options for those who want to ring in the new year without a hangover.

Ceremony — a dry bottle shop — opened its first location in Virginia Beach in May; it offers curated alcohol-free beers, wines, spirits and mixers. Ceremony’s ready-to-drink selection is good for nondrinkers, expectant mothers, people taking medications and people living sober. Simmonds, a drinker himself, enjoys having a drink after a long day without a headache the next morning.

Ceremony is part of Simmonds’ company, Less Than — a zero-waste and refill shop offering goods such as hand and dish soap, toothpaste tablets, and laundry detergent and pods. Both businesses are under the same roof.

Simmonds was born in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, and grew up in Virginia Beach. He graduated from Salem High School and Old Dominion University. He saw a need for more nonalcoholic options in the community, so he opened a business.

Ceremony’s products are processed the same way as alcoholic wines (fermented), beers (brewed) and spirits (distilled), but the alcohol is filtered out at the end, leaving 0.5% or less, which is considered nonalcoholic. Others are created with a blend of ingredients such as fruits, vegetables and agave.

People can select from brands that can be consumed straight, mixed or with a garnish. Simmonds recommends mixing with soda, such as Coke or ginger ale.

For people new to nonalcoholic beverages, “I recommend people get the equivalent of what they would normally purchase,” he said.


Picks and a recipe

From his shop, Simmonds has a few recommendations, and a mocktail recipe for the holidays and beyond:

As family and friends wait for dinner, serve Wilfred’s Bittersweet Aperitif ($31.99) — a before-meal drink that stimulates the appetite. It’s a blend of rosemary, bitter orange, rhubarb and clove. Digestifs — an after dinner drink that aids in digestion — are also available.

Lush Moscow Mule Mix ($14.95) and Fre Alcohol-Removed Chardonnay ($16.50) make a plentiful drink for entertaining.

Red wine drinkers will enjoy Goodvines Non-alcoholic Mulled Red Wine ($12.99) — a spiced wine good warm or cold.

Some customers pick up spirits they have seen on social media, such as Three Spirit Livener ($39) and Seedlip ($34.99), because they are familiar with them, Simmonds said.

All the Bitter ($26.50 per bottle), owned by Carly and Ian Blessing, is the only product in the store with a Virginia connection. Ian used to live in Norfolk. Bitters are a concentration of botanicals used for flavoring drinks.

Simmonds didn’t highlight the TÖST Sparkling White Tea ($10), but it would make a refreshing celebratory drink — I tried it. The effervescent bubbles danced on the tongue and finished with a light tea taste and subtle sweetness.


Rekaya Gibson, 757-295-8809, rekaya.gibson@virginiamedia.com; on Twitter, @gibsonrekaya


Comfort and Joy mocktail


1.5 ounces Monday nonalcoholic gin

1.5 ounces apple cider

1.5 ounces cranberry juice

4 drops orange bitters


Dehydrated orange slices

Dehydrated apple slices

Cinnamon sticks

Clove or star anise


Mix liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour into a glass or jar. Garnish. Enjoy.


Warm ingredients on the stove or make a large party batch. Tie garnishes to the jar with a ribbon.


The shops

Ceremony, enjoyceremony.com, is at:

  • 803 Shirley Ave., Norfolk

  • Inside Painted Tree Boutiques, Hilltop North, 1624 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach

  • 24 S. King St., Hampton

  • 10353 Warwick Blvd., Newport News