The Ultimate Guide to Ordering, Drinking, and Enjoying Non-Alcoholic Drinks (Part I)

You’ve decided to stop drinking. But that doesn’t mean you’ve decided to give up your night out with the guys. And hey, no one’s asking you to stay in with a mug of tea and a blankie, unless that’s your jam. What is being asked of you? Your order, at the bar. So as a new non-drinker, what do you do when the bartender turns your way? Arm yourself with some non-alcoholic drink knowledge, and enjoy your evening out, my friend. And where to begin? First things first. Your body is about 60% water, so it’s about time you become familiar with this single most popular and necessary drink. Here’s what you need to know.

The BUBBLIES

You know all about craft beer. But how much do you know about H20? Any good teetotaler knows their waters, both fizzy and flat. Carbonated water is, in a word, bubbly. It’s the type of stuff that, like soda, will explode if you shake it up before you open it. Most carbonated water is infused with carbon dioxide under pressure. The exception is some natural mineral water. So let’s break down the bubblies:

Mineral water

Sparkling mineral water is derived from a natural spring. It contains trace minerals and (partially) natural bubbles. Try San Pellegrino or Perrier, and drink it straight to savor the crisp mineral flavor. It isn’t your cheapest option, but it’s a choice that exudes class. Pellegrino is a house party favorite of mine. If you’re headed somewhere you know people are going to be carrying bottles or mixed drinks, grab a Pellegrino and expect no one to glance twice at the bottle you’re nursing all night.

Club soda

Club soda is the poor imitation cousin of mineral water, as it’s traditional H20 pumped up with bubbles and minerals artificially. Why? Because we all can’t afford a $7.00 bottle of naturally sourced mineral water. Club soda with lime is a non-alcoholic bar go-to. You can drink it all night, it’s cheap, and calorie-free. Another perk? To a nosy bystander, it appears to be a liquor-laden cocktail.

Seltzer water

Like club soda’s little brother, seltzer water is fizzy H20 without the added minerals. Some say they can detect a difference in taste between the two. If such a master connoisseur of flavor as yourself is bothered by the mineral taste of club soda, seltzer water can be your go-to drink. Stick with club soda when ordering, but don’t balk if seltzer water is the only thing on offer. Basically? They’re the same thing. As with club soda, this is another affordable option with lemon or lime to drink all night.

Tonic water

Hey, it’s named water, right? It probably belongs on this list. Whoa there, hoss. Quit playing fast and loose with your water game. Tonic water, although often sold next to club soda in the grocery store, is more similar to Sprite. It includes sugar, fruit extracts, and quinine. It was originally sold as a preventative for malaria. Now, we know better and use its biting flavor in mixed drinks. If you’ve laid off the booze, there’s no reason not to be tossing back tonic water.

Armed with this basic water knowledge, you can build almost any mocktail at almost any bar. Tired of club soda with lemon, lime, or another garnish? Ask what juice is available, and order a splash of juice with club soda. And don’t hesitate to talk to the bartender about this stuff. They’ve seen it all, heard it all, and they’ll be grateful you aren’t that fall down drunk anymore.

Bubbly waters are just the beginning. You, my friend, can become a connoisseur of not drinking. We’re here to help with that. Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series, where we focus on staying sober under the radar when you go out. You’re ready to stop. We’re here to help.

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As Workit Health's Community Lead, Kali Lux leans in to the culture gap between addiction, recovery, and medicine. She's interested in finding solutions that work for substance users better than drinking or drugging does, and believes Workit is one of them. She's written extensively on her own experience through addiction into long-term recovery. Connect with her on Twitter @kalireadsbooks.