Taking Ownership of your Non-Alcoholic Drinks

multitude of different glasses

I’m quite ballsy when I’m out about taking ownership of my drinks. When I’m at someone’s house or in a bar or at an event I am very clear when talking to hosts, waiters, and serving staff about what I want to drink and the vessel I want to drink it in.

This wasn’t always the case. When I first got sober and felt like a weird, boring alien on fun boozy planet I would be quite timid about my drinks. I felt insecure about being the only non-drinker in the room and shy about making any fuss with the waiters. 

I’d accept a glass of thick, cloying orange juice because it was the only thing on offer, and I’d stand while holding it, feeling like a kid amongst adults with a neon sign above my head that said ‘CHECK OUT THE NON-DRINKER!!!’.

I’d not flinch when the bartender served my soda water in a short tumbler with a straw that kept falling out, and I’d drink it through the bloody straw too (what the hell was I thinking)?

I’d have a coke because coke was offered even though I would never normally buy or drink coke. I don’t even like coke. Why did I drink coke?

There are times when I do still have to accept a drink that I’d rather not have. Like if a friend has gone to the trouble of concocting a mocktail even though it’s far too sweet and I’m not in the mood. But for the most part nowadays. I’m all about being very clear about what I would like, and what I’m not going to settle for, and I don’t feel the slightest bit shy or embarrassed about it. 

I’ll say very clearly at the bar, “Can I have soda water with fresh lime please, no ice” and if it arrives with a straw I’ll pick it out and leave it sitting on the bar. 

I’ll say very politely to a friend who has offered me some juice or fizzy, “to be honest I’d rather just have a water – is that okay?” It always is.

Recently I went to a friend’s house for dinner and took my own bottle of San Pellegrino. When the hostess saw what I had she offered me a tall glass and rather than just accept it I said politely “actually, do you mind if I use a wine glass?” Of course she didn’t.

Last week I went to an event that we had purchased tickets for and there were tables set up at the entrance with loads of pre-filled red and white wine glasses. I asked the dude standing behind the table “is there anything non-alcoholic?”. He said “no, you have to go to the bar”. I walked over the bar and said to the guy standing behind it, “Apparently you have non-alcoholic drinks?” He said “Yes, juice or water.” “Juice or water, that’s it?” I asked. He nodded. “No thanks” There was no way I was going to drink orange juice or water at an evening. It was franky insulting and I was proud of myself for waking away. (The irony is it was an awards ceremony and I was a finalist for my work in addiction advocacy).

Later Mr D went and got me a lemonade in a wine glass. It was better than nothing.

It matters. It matters what we are offered. It matters how we are catered to. It matters that we are considered when events are planned. It matters that we advocate for ourselves. It matters that we are comfortable and happy with what we are drinking when out and about. Our societies are booze soaked, everything is always geared towards people who drink alcohol. And this has to change. It has to become just as natural to consider and cater to non-drinkers as it is drinkers. Not only so that we get something yummy to drink and feel seen and cared for, but so that a clear message is sent that not drinking alcohol is just as normal as drinking it.

So be bold! Take ownership! Don’t settle for a tumbler if you’d rather have a stem. Tell them if you don’t want ice. Don’t drink sickly sweet orange juice if you don’t want to. And never, ever use a straw unless there is a mocktail umbrella present. 

Cheers to that.

  1. Irongirl27 1 week ago

    My husband and I changed our diet to plant-based in January. We are constantly amazed at how easy it has become to get really good options in restaurants and in grocery stores. Those places that serve or sell alcohol seriously need to catch up.

  2. Leigh 2 weeks ago

    Me too. And even at home, I always use those “special occasion” glassware for all my drinks.

  3. ShellyOdie 2 weeks ago

    And there’s nothing wrong with bringing your own can of fizzy water, especially if you are newly n/a. Don’t let the thoughtless lack of beverage choices give you an excuse to let go of your sober dreams.

  4. PeterM 3 weeks ago

    AND there are more beers than just Heineken Zero! So many otherwise good bars still can’t be bothered to stock anything else. I aways have a chat to the bar staff about this.

  5. Anon44 3 weeks ago

    That event “catering” is appalling! I am actually shocked. I suppose you could only get a salad if you were vegetarian too?

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