By Sharyn Morrow
Is it your turn to be the designated driver this weekend? The Horn's Gentleman gives you a few tips and a few non-alcoholic drink recipes to keep you happy and sober.
There is much more to the drinking culture than just drinking. When you go to a bar to have a drink you might find yourself not only drinking but also socializing, dancing, possibly playing a bar game such as pool or darts. These factors mean that you don’t have to be imbibing to enjoy yourself, but you might want to blend in.
There are a variety of reasons why you might not want to drink when heading to the bar with friends. You might be the designated driver. You might have religious beliefs that may refrain you from alcohol intake. You might be on a medication that you cannot mix with alcohol. Perhaps you may have been told by a nice man in a black robe at an old courthouse that you are not allowed to. Whatever the reason, you might still want to blend in with drinking culture and do not want the contents of your glass to signal your sobriety.
Obviously you could just drink non-alcoholic beer from a pint glass and no one would be the wiser. But if you do not want to choke down “near-beer” there are several “mixer cocktails” that can give the impression that you are drinking when in actuality you are stone cold sober. The easiest way is to put whatever your choice of dark soda is in your glass and roll with that as a whiskey and cola. If you want to pass your choice of alcohol off as rum, just add a lime and it will look like a Cuba libre. The addition of lemon or lime to any soda whether it is club soda, dark soda, light soda or ginger ale can really add to the authenticity of a real drink.
Things can get a bit trickier if you want to pass off your drink as a more complex beverage, but it is not impossible. The easiest “fruity” cocktails to virginize are vodka drinks. Since vodka is basically just grain alcohol—which you know because you read my article on vodka, right? -- you can just remove the vodka. A madras works well as a non-alcoholic drink since its mixer of orange juice and cranberry juice tastes very similar to grapefruit juice. You can use this same technique with other liquors as well. I personally like to make a non-alcoholic cherry whiskey sour. I just take some sour mix and add a dash of grenadine. The outcome is actually quite good. Instead of grenadine, add some lime juice and simple syrup and you have a virgin margarita. You can do the same with a virgin tequila sunrise by dash of grenadine to orange juice.
There are a few drinks that you cannot virginize. If it ends in “–tini” you can probably bet that it will not work well as a virgin drink. Most shots are completely out of the question. Drinks that require multiple liquors like a Long Island iced tea do not lend themselves to non-alcoholic variations as the basis of their tastes is the liquors.
Just because you have to abstain from alcohol doesn’t mean that you can’t be part of the drinking crowd. As an added benefit, “mixer cocktails” are often far cheaper than their alcoholic counterparts.