For people first cutting back on alcohol, one of the most unexpected challenges can come from dining out. Although a growing number of restaurants are expanding their drink menus to include non-alcoholic options, those are more of a pleasant surprise than an industry standard. For people who drink alcohol, there’s a world of options to choose from at any bar or restaurant. Full cocktail menus, wine lists, beer on tap, you name it. For people who don’t drink, there are shirley temples and…maybe a club soda?
It can be disheartening and surprisingly isolating to feel like there aren’t any options for you, but don’t worry. We’ve been there, and we’ve spent a LOT of time scouring menus to try and cobble together a decent zero-proof drink.
So, what do you order at a bar or restaurant when you’re not drinking? Here are a few of our go-to favorites.
For something sophisticated:
Ask for a tonic in a wine glass with a splash of grapefruit juice and whatever herbs they have to garnish. Grapefruit and herbs create this wonderful tart, botanical flavor reminiscent of a greyhound cocktail. Plus, adding a garnish is a surefire way to make any drink feel more elevated!
For something festive:
Ask for a champagne flute of grapefruit juice topped with bitters and club soda. This is a fizzy, tart drink that still contains the depth and complexity of a good cocktail. Try substituting different juice options to find a combination that suits you best.
For something laid back:
Ask for a wine glass with a generous dash of bitters topped with club soda. Bitters and soda is the ultimate cool drink. Although it might seem like a simple recipe, those two ingredients are really all you need for a well-rounded, flavorful cocktail.
Just keep in mind that some bitters do contain small amounts of alcohol. Check with the bartender first to decide if this is your best option.
For something with a kick:
Ask for a copper mug with ginger beer and lime juice – bonus points for mint! Moscow mules are always a great drink option, and this cocktail is just as refreshing and fun without the alcohol.
These drinks are a great place to start, and as you experiment more with zero-proof recipes, you can figure out other options that suit you. The great news is, with the rising popularity of the sober curious movement, restaurants are realizing the demand for non-alcoholic options. There are even entirely dry bars that have begun opening up!