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[drink] What to Drink When You’re Not Drinking

19 January 2010 by Tim Kaul 56 Comments

tonic and lime

I love to go out. Football on the TV and wings and nachos on the menu? I’m there. Karaoke on tap? I’ll be the first to bust a move. General rowdiness and shenanigans? Count me in.

But here’s the catch: I don’t drink. Not at all; not on holidays, not for special occasions, not on a box, not with a fox, I don’t do it.

I won’t get into details, but thankfully it wasn’t anything tragic or anything that left me in the custody of Wichita’s finest. It was just time for me. However, walking around with a Coke and a crazy straw just doesn’t feel right and leads to the inevitable questioning about why I don’t drink. So here are the best non-alcoholic drinks to order when you’ve decided it’s your time or you’ve drawn the short straw and it’s your night to DD.

  • Cranberry and soda water. This is my go-to drink at the bar. Most bartenders will serve this in a rocks glass and the look is exactly that of a vodka cranberry.
  • Soda water and lime. This is another great fakeout. It looks like a multitude of drinks and with no calories is a great way to keep down your calorie count, so the aforementioned nachos and wings don’t kill the hours you spent in the gym.
  • Coke with a twist of lime. This is awfully tasty and, when taken in moderation, will keep you going into the wee hours.
  • Non-alcoholic beer. There are people who really dig these. Multiple versions are out there from all of your favorite beer purveyors: Bud, Coors and even Guinness. However, I’ve yet to find one that tastes like a real beer. They tend to be a little skunky. Whetheror not this is an actual attribute of the beer is something I’ve not yet discovered.
  • Cherry limeade. My wife likes these on the nights she chooses not to drink. Lemon-lime soda, a splash of grenadine and a lime twist and you have the look of a million foofy drinks. Served in a martini glass, and you’re ready for the next airing of Sex in the City with the girls. A faux-tini, if you will.

A few tips and hints from up here on the wagon: Whatever you choose to drink, don’t worry about the questions and the looks, even if you are rocking the crazy straw in a soda glass. Most everyone I’ve come in contact with is really cool and sometimes even a bit envious of my ability to go have a good time without the hooch. Order your drink with pride like you’d order anything else: “Soda water and cranberry, please!”

Also keep in mind that most bartenders won’t charge you for a soda, which is great! You can go out on the town, dance and have a good time much cheaper than if you’d had a half-dozen alcoholic drinks. This does not excuse you from tipping, though. Tip like you would for any other beverage; a dollar a drink is my going rate and will be well appreciated by your local mixologist.

When I first quit drinking, I assumed my social life was over. But here’s the crazy part – it has actually gotten me invites to occasions I might have not normally been invited to. My buddies are headed out; who better to call than me? Their significant others immediately feel better knowing they aren’t going to be driving, and even if they buy my drinks all night, it’s still cheaper than a cab and a LOT cheaper than a DUI.

Do you go out and get crazy without the booze? Do you enjoy the feeling of walking out of the bar at 2 a.m. and not freaking out about the cops in the parking lot? What do you drink when you’re not drinking?

image source

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  4. [drink] Caffeine on the Cheap
  5. [drink] Signature Drink: Finn’s
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  • Missy said:

    I really don’t drink very much, and did not drink at all for many years. Like you, no big reason. I just got tired of it. I also know those looks when people offer you a drink and you say no. They automatically assume you are a recovering alcholic or something. I work it similar to what you do now. I usually have one drink, then switch to something “faux fruity” like the soda and cranberry or coke and lime. At small getherings I simply nurse my one glass of wine and down tons of water along with it. No one really notices that the wine never got drunk and neither did I. lol Another solution is if someone brings me a beer, I have a sip or two then hand it off to hubs who will drink it while he gets me a coke or something else. I love to go out and have fun, but I no longer have any alcohol tolerance and the hangover after 2 glasses of wine just isn’t worth it to me very often. My occasional mojito or glass of wine at home usually ends up only 1/3 finished nowadays too. Kinda wasteful. I need to stop that. Once or twice a year I go out with the intention of actually drinking, but the other 363 days “faking it” works just fine. Good article Tim. :(

  • Alan Burch said:

    I often order a ginger ale – it looks like a bourbon or a scotch so I don’t often get the 3rd degree about why I don’t drink. If I do get questioned, I tell people a bit about why I don’t drink and maybe get them to question themselves about their drinking habits.
    Quitting drinking was (for me – maybe not for you) one of the best things I could have ever done.

  • Timothy K said:

    Alan, by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to give up the hootch. I’ve not run into many places that serve Ginger Ale but it’s one of my favorites and I’ll be sure to ask for it in the future! Thanks again

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    [...] you know from reading What to Drink When You’re Not Drinking, I don’t drink, so I had to enlist my fellow patrons to get a good idea of what each drink [...]

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