Picky beverage question
July 19, 2005 11:16 PM   Subscribe

Picky beverage question: I like hanging out with my friends in bars and such but I'm rather limited in what I'll drink. I don't drink alcohol for one, or caffeine or sugary beverages for that matter...

Mostly I get soda water with lime and bitters (I know bitters is alcohol, but it's not enough to concern me) what I'm wondering is what else I might be able to order.

Also, I'm confused as to what the difference between all the carbonated waters is (i.e. soda water, club soda, seltzer and such).

Thanks in advance for any help.
posted by garethspor to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I like club soda and orange juice. I'm not sure if that counts as sugary under your rules. Unfortunately, a lot of bars have really crappy orange juice that's just there to make the screwdrivers drinkable.
posted by ODiV at 11:19 PM on July 19, 2005

Most bars have a few juices on hand for mixing with alcohol (cranberry, orange, pineapple, tomato) that you can get plain or cut with club soda. Still more fruits will be available to you if you go to a place that makes fresh margaritas. You might also like club soda with a splash of sour mix to make a light fizzy lemonade.
posted by xo at 11:25 PM on July 19, 2005

In Seattle, a lot of the bars have coffee available. Pretty good coffee, as well. I'm in the same situation, don't drink alcohol, and hate the sweet drinks at times. So, I end up having coffee or water. Sometimes, tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:22 AM on July 20, 2005

Club Soda, Soda Water, Seltzer, or Sparkling Water are all the same. It's all carbonated water. Think Perrier, or Pellegrino. It has a minute amount of Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) depending on how it is made (or if it is a naturally carbonated water).

Many times you can also find flavored versions of these with any variation of names ( Cherry Seltzer, Lemon/Lime Soda Water, etc.)

Tonic Water is different. It is water flavored with quinine, and many times does contain sugar.

Your options are generally limited to whatever mixers are used at the bar: Fruit Juices listed above, Sodas (Coke/Sprite), Diet Sodas, Club Soda, Tonic Water, Half & Half, and tap water.
posted by stovenator at 12:47 AM on July 20, 2005

I think stovenator is mostly right. Club soda has a small amount of added sodium in it. Seltzer and soda water are the same thing (water with CO2 injected for carbonation), they are/were regional terms. Sparkling water used to refer to naturally carbonated spring water, but I've noticed it's a generic term now.

What about grapefruit juice? Most bars have it for making greyhounds and salty dogs. Many places now also carry non-alcoholic beer, since the major brewers each make one.
posted by cali at 12:59 AM on July 20, 2005

What about vichy water? What's that made of?
posted by recurve at 2:12 AM on July 20, 2005

Maybe ask for Ramune and have some fun drinking it too.
posted by webmeta at 3:30 AM on July 20, 2005

Still more fruits will be available to you if you go to a place that makes fresh margaritas.
In a former life, I worked at a Mexican Restaurant whose margaritas are what a lot of people came for. All we had was orange juice from concentrate and sometimes a fresh fruit to add in the margaritas. Though, with anything else in the world, YMMV
posted by jmd82 at 5:15 AM on July 20, 2005

If garethspor is averse to sweet drinks, ramune would probably be out. It is super fun to drink however. Don't think I've seen it in a bar around here (NJ-NY) though.

Ahhh the memories from high school of introducing one of my friends to ramune soda by accidentally spraying a jet of the sweet japanese drink directly into his contact lens.
posted by GreenTentacle at 5:36 AM on July 20, 2005

Vichy water is another natually sparkling mineral water like Perrier.

The barfolk I know don't like selling juices straight because they've got a high drink-cost (compared to most drinks) and the tips aren't as good.

Soda and lime or soda with lemon are my preferred drinks when I don't want alcohol. Some places have unsweetened iced tea too, but that's less common.
posted by bonehead at 5:36 AM on July 20, 2005

in buenos aires (dahlings) we were drinking lemon juice with soda water - i guess this might be very like your lime. you got a glass half filled with lemon juice (freshly squeezed, i think), and an ancient glass soda syphon bottle thing. you added water to the juice and drank it, refilling as you liked (but with the juice getting more dilute, obviously).
posted by andrew cooke at 6:29 AM on July 20, 2005

See if you can get a good-quality, non-alcoholic beer. The flavor certainly can't compare to real beer, but as a non-sweet "soda" I think the better ones are quite good. O'Doul's is just as crappy as regular Bud, but the Beck's non-alcoholic isn't bad.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:00 AM on July 20, 2005

Here's a nice bevvy you can sometimes talk a bartender into, if sufficiently tipped:

Slice a lime thin, leaving out the end rinds. Muddle in the bottom of a tall cocktail glass with a spoonful of sugar. Top with 200-250mL sparkling water. Vodka, or gin make a nice addition, if you're feeling alcoholic. This is essentially ac's concotion, but limes aren't quite as acid and have far fewer seeds. Bars always have limes, so this is easy to get.

In a pinch, a half-shot of Rose's Lime Water to 250mL/8oz sparkling water will do to, particularly if the bar is busy. Most definitely, do not accept lime bar mix though.
posted by bonehead at 7:39 AM on July 20, 2005

Grenadine and club soda + cherry = good.

Of course, if you want to sound like an adult, order it that way.
posted by shepd at 7:44 AM on July 20, 2005

I also don't drink alcohol, and avoid caffeine (makes me crazy, bad for me in other ways) and sugar (makes me fall asleep).

There are three things I'll order:

Tonic and grenadine (Tonic is fizzy water with quinine added, which makes it bitter, and grenadine is essentially maraschino cherry syrup, which is sweet. The proportions can be varied to your taste, but it's good)

Mineral water

Hot Chamomile Tea (other hot herbal teas are OK, but I also avoid drinking hibiscus, which is in almost all of them -- especially "Zinger" teas -- and mint, which is in nearly all herbal teas which don't contain hibiscus).

At some restaurants, you can get Mango Lassis - yummy, but contains dairy - and/or a Moroccan honey ginger drink. I mention these here in case this thread is read by anyone with the power to encourage wider availability of these beverages.
posted by amtho at 7:47 AM on July 20, 2005

Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't see the 'no caffeine' bit.

In that case, I recommend Bloody Mary mix. It's like spicy tomato juice without the alcohol.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:34 AM on July 20, 2005

As a non-drinker, I'm in the same boat. I've been threatening to order Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers by name when going out with friends to bars, but usually just end up with a soda or bottled water.

bonehead's right, though, you get a grimmace from most barfolk when ordering something non-alcoholic, because most non-drinkers don't tip well. If there's a bar or two you visit more frequently, tip high and be as friendly as possible to the barstaff regardless. Eventually, they'll start to recognize you and come around to a friendlier demeanor.
posted by ThePants at 9:40 AM on July 20, 2005

This is my rule too: TIP THE BARTENDER, nomatter what you're drinking. $1 per drink. Sorry. That's the price of getting service at a bar -- the bartender doesn't care if your drink is only $1 or doesn't have gin in it. It's still got a glass, 1 or 2 or 3 liquids, a straw, a lime wedge, or whatever.

I live in a driving city so I always have a beer or a drink and then switch to something without alcohol. So I'll have a couple of club sodas or whatever during the hour last hour.
posted by zpousman at 10:19 AM on July 20, 2005

I too don't drink alcohol but often find myself in bars.
Sometimes I order an OJ with tonic preferably in a large glass - its refreshing, however its easy to OD on the sugar.
After one or two I change to sparkling water with lemon or lime. Ask the barman to give you two or three slices and then squeeze them into the water - I can travel on that for the duration.
posted by adamvasco at 11:46 AM on July 20, 2005

How about a virgin Mojito: mint and lime juice muddled with ice and sugar, then topped up with soda.

Another fave is equal parts orange juice, cranberry juice and soda in a tall glass with a lime wedge. (Bonus points if anyone knows the name for this drink -- it's a pain to have to shout the recipe over a noisy bar.)
posted by ottereroticist at 12:00 PM on July 20, 2005

I like half OJ, half mineral water.

Vichy water is another natually sparkling mineral water like Perrier.

According to Claude Rains, Vichy water belongs in the trash.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:53 PM on July 20, 2005

I often drink bonehead's last suggestion, soda water with a splash of Rose's lime juice. It's simple and very refreshing. Although Rose's lime jiuce does contain sugar, just a splash in a glass of soda water doesn't seem too sweet to me, and I really don't like sweet. I wish this had a name, or maybe it does, and I just don't know what it is.
posted by marsha56 at 5:18 PM on July 20, 2005

Think Perrier, or Pellegrino

Not to nitpick, and I know this sounds pretentious as fuck, but perrier and pelligrino are nothing like your average bar soda water. They are mineral water, and they have their own nuanced flavors. Moreover, in the reverse (and much to my lament on occasions when I've only had mineral water available), you can't mix drinks with pelligrino or perrier, they will definitely taste off. Yeah they both have fizz and they're all more or less plain, but different beasts entirely.

As for the question at hand, I'd say just keep it simple. Drink water, drink soda water, or drink juice. Don't think that just because you're in a bar you have to make the bartender work hard to serve you. Half the drinking population in an average bar just orders a pint of beer, so you shouldn't feel out of place by making it easy. Tip well, make friends with the bartender, and you will always have all the water (or other NA bev) that you want, same as an alky patron. Most of all, don't overthink things, you are there to have fun and be with your friends, don't let the drinks get in the way.
posted by rorycberger at 12:46 AM on July 21, 2005

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