I'm quite ballsy when I'm out about taking ownership of my drinks. When I’m at someone’s house or out 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 what 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 when out 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 hold 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's times when I do still have to accept a drink 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 (or am trying to be sugar-free!). But for the most part nowadays I'm all about being very clear about what I want and not feeling in 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.
On Saturday I went to a pot-luck 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 night I went to an event and the bar was set up with champagne flutes and bottles of bubbly wine. I could see a few tumblers stacked on the edge of the table alongside a bottle of apple juice. I was bold and asked the waitress "do you have any fizzy water?". She said "no sorry but I have this jug of still water with lemon". I then said "Ok cool I'll have that please, in a flute." "Sorry?" she didn't hear me. "IN A FLUTE PLEASE" I said very clearly. My girlfriend beside me giggled. No shame!
Unfortunately the lemon water tasted like dirt but at least I was holding a flute like everyone else!
I really think this matters. Our societies are booze soaked, everything is always geared towards drinkers, us non-drinkers are in the minority and why the hell shouldn’t we be bold and clear about what we are holding in our hands and putting in our tummies.
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.