Maybe you’re a little too young to order a drink legally. Maybe the taste of alcohol is too much for you. Maybe you’re the designated driver. Whatever the case, you’re trying to avoid booze as much as possible. But just because you’re not indulging in the intoxication aspect of a night out with friends doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun! There are lots of tea totaler options for folks like you, and they’re often even tastier than their spiritous counterparts. Not only will you save a few spending bucks (alcoholic drinks are much more expensive than soft drinks), you’ll also save time forgoing a morning-after hangover. Here are 10 great drinks to try while out with friends (that aren’t booze).
1). Non-Alcoholic Cucumber Collins
If the name “Cucumber Collins” sounds more like a 1940’s sketch comedian than a drink, let us enlighten you. The name stems from the original Tom Collins, a drink consisting of lemon juice, gin, carbonated water, and sugar. The Cucumber Collins follows a similar formula, only adding cuke slices for a refreshing twist. Ordering one of these bad boys for yourself (sans alcohol) will leave you feeling hydrated and delighted, as the coolness of the cucumber, the tang of the lemon, and the tantalizing bubbles of the sparkling water make for one invigorating combo.
2). Grapefruit Spritzer
Few foods are quite as aromatic and colorful as the grapefruit, making it a hot item for fancy mixed drinks. Great drinks (we think) perfectly marry opposites, and this booze-free grapefruit spritzer does exactly that. The tart grapefruit juice is balanced by the light bubbly water (Pellegrino is our favorite). While the concoction is heavenly on its own (sweetened with a little simple syrup), it’s also totally customizable to your personal tastes. Rosemary sprig? Excellent choice. A little lime juice? Why not? After you’ve tried one out on the town, check out this recipe to make a few at home.
3). Virgin Piña Colada
Pineapple and coconut go together like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. They’re different, but they work together so well! That’s why the piña colada has become such a beloved staple in American culture (as well as getting caught in the rain), the sweet and tangy pineapple perfectly complements the rich and nutty coconut, creating a moment of tropical bliss without the tropical debt. No need for special requests here: just ask for a virgin piña colada and the bar tender will know exactly what to do. Bonus points: the drink is also dairy free (the creaminess only comes from the coconut milk), so you can even bring your vegan friends along to indulge with you.
4). Strawberry Agua Fresca
As if Mexican fare couldn’t get any more delicious, now we can enjoy aqua fresca (“fresh water”), a non-alcoholic beverage consisting of sugar, water and fruit blended together. There may be liquid versions in a few fast-food places, but true aqua fresca somewhat resembles a fresh fruit smoothie. You can try any fruit you want, but we personally recommend strawberry because it pairs well with a lot of other flavors and blends seamlessly (so it’s not likely you’ll be getting a bunch of strawberry seeds in your drink).
5). Blackberry Sparkling Lemonade
While Red Robin boasts a mean Freckled Lemonade, you can be sure you’ll find a variation on the sparkling lemonade drink nearly anywhere you go. Fresh squeezed lemonade is one of those simple pleasures in life that never seems to disappoint, and adding carbonation and fresh blackberries to the mix will only produce a delectable result. If you’re at a good bar, chances are that the bar tender will hand-squeeze the lemons right in front of you, so you can be assured that what you’re drinking is fresh. Blackberries not your thing? Try raspberries, a mint sprig or two, or even a hint of flavored syrup (rose is not a bad option) to jazz up your beverage.
6). Shirley Temple
As your pals try to convince you that the grown up “Dirty Shirley” is much better than its alcohol-free counterpart, order this classic choice and prove them very wrong. For one thing, the way the red pomegranate grenadine syrup swirls through your tall cup of ginger ale is just so aesthetically pleasing that you can’t help but want one when you see one. For another thing, you just can’t beat the nostalgic taste of Shirley Temples. Honestly, we’ve forgotten why we even started ordering plain old 7-up instead of this marvelous drink.
7). Soda Mimosa
Impromptu brunch ahead? Mom treating you to a fancy breakfast? Such an occasion calls for a fancy drink! Our suggestion? Go for a mimosa-only substitute the champagne for Seven-up or sprite. This way, you’ll get the lightness of the mimosa without the light-headedness of the alcohol. Can’t get enough? Stock up on fresh orange juice and lemon-lime soda (as well as mix-ins like cranberry juice) to make a tantalizing morning treat for your room mates.
8). Bottle Of Premium Sparkling Water
We’ll admit, this option’s a bit more on the plain side, but it’s totally legitimate if you’re trying to steer clear of booze! You can order a big glass bottle for the table and watch it pour elegantly into your water glasses, or simply ask if they carry your favorite La Croix flavor. Not only is this drink elegant, but it’s also calorie and sugar free, so you can go ahead and split that chocolate lava cake with your BFF.
9). Booze-less Mai Tai
Here’s another popular tropical drink that tastes just as delicious without the ethanol (we mean, alcohol). All you need to have a virgin Mai Tai of your own is to ask for a mix of orange and pineapple juice with a splash of grenadine syrup (as opposed to curaçao) and make sure they hold the rum. Now your drink is all flavor and no bitter aftertaste!
10). Italian Soda
Last but not least on our list is Italian soda, which can be pre-made (we love San Pellegrino Aranciata) or custom-made with sparkling water, flavored syrup, and whatever garnishes you please. You can even add fresh cream (regular or flat) for a rich counterpart to your bubbling raspberry-peach combo. Now if we could only get a big plate of Fettuccine Alfredo to go with our soda…