Non-alcoholic options

We’ve been exploring the connections between alcohol and activism, and a number of writers have shared their perspectives on drinking and sobriety. But when you decide to walk the sober path, or just cut down for a night, what are your beverage options? Liz Shield lays it out for us.


What do you drink, if you don’t actually “drink”?

After all, alcohol is about as Australian as meat pies and football, and even vegans have specialty beers, wine and ciders to imbibe with a conscience. If you are a non-sport enthusiast activist, your community is still probably not immune, as many fundraisers rely on takings from the bar, and rallies or other actions are frequently debriefed at a pub.

So what are (sober) folks to do?

Hitting the bar… sober-style

Sober pride is great, but sometimes it’s nice to take a break from having the big conversation. If you want to be a non-drinker in ‘stealth mode’ you could try non-alcoholic beers and wine. But I have to say, they’ve always seemed about as appealing as herbal cigarettes or decaffeinated coffee to me. Thankfully, there are alternatives!

MojitoYou could amuse or annoy the bar staff by requesting a non-alcoholic cocktail or “virgin” version of something on the cocktail menu if you want a drink in a fancy glass with an umbrella or slice of pineapple or that has been set on fire.

Some mocktails you might want to try:

As a cautionary note – these drinks are essentially a variety of fruit juice and postmix soft drink that will cost up to half the price of an alcoholic version, so if budgeting is also your thing; consider just sticking to juice or a soft drink.

If ‘passing’ as a drinker isn’t of concern to you, pick a different kind of beverage. Pub favourites include post mix or bottled lemon squash, ginger beer/ale and lemon lime and bitters. Freshly made lemon, lime and bitters is spectacular. Some Melbourne pubs have produced organic Victorian ginger beers when I have asked if they have any. Winning!

If you are lucky enough to live in a world city like Melbourne, you may notice that many bars also have coffee machines which can produce a decent brew to last you through many conversations, bands, games of darts or pool competitions. And free water on the bar?! It doesn’t get much better than that.

BYO and home-made wonders

Of course, it is not just drinking out that poses challenges for the non-drinker, but parties and most social gatherings invariably involve alcohol.

You can bring 1 litre bottles of your favourite mineral water or soft drink, or other home made drinks if you are required to BYO. If hosting a party, there are plenty of varieties of non-alcoholic punch you can make. A well stocked mixer table is useful at any social event and has the added bonus of encouraging responsible alcohol consumption. People have the option of adding alcohol to their glass of punch if they want – just make sure no-one does the old school social punch spiking trick.

punch-bowlHere’s a simple punch recipe:

  • 1 litre Pineapple juice
  • 1 litre Ginger ale
  • 1 litre Soda water
  • 1 sliced lime
  • ¼ cup of mint leaves
  • Plus your favourite fruit for mix ins – I love this with sliced strawberries!

Or how about making your own ginger beer (tasty and good for your health!) or a fancy cordial to add carbonated water to?

Nannas make the best drinking buddies

For the nanna-core, a thermos of hot tea is invariably a talking point at events. Complete with it’s own cup, the classic thermos comes in individual and picnic or party sizes and will keep your tasty drinks hot or cold for the duration of most gatherings. Especially valued at winter rallies and early morning blockades!

For warmer weather try some ice tea. Here’s some tips and recipes – and this one is caffeine and sugar free. Word is sun tea can harbour bacteria so it’s best to use boiled water. There are a gazillion varieties of tea out there, so get experimenting!

These are some ideas to get you started but there are many more delicious and envy inducing alcohol-free beverages.

So… what to drink when you don’t drink alcohol? Just about anything really!


LizShieldAbout the author 

Liz Shield is a queer, feminist social change activist and mother-of-one. When she is not working with homeless people in Melbourne, she is creating and distributing a zine, “Tick my Box” and volunteering with Flat Out, a community based not-for-profit supporting women exiting prison. She is involved in campaigns for abolition of prisons and detention centres, for Aboriginal sovereignty and against the nuclear industry. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, gardening and deciphering toddler talk.

What do you drink when you don’t drink alcohol? Share your tips!