Menu Close

What Non-Alcoholic Drinks Can I Order at Bars in Recovery?

Claim Your Recovery Today!

What Non-Alcoholic Drinks Can I Order at Bars in Recovery?

So, you know how to socialize, have fun, and call Jason out for being notoriously bad at talking to women.

non-alcoholic drinksBut what about drinks?

Before you got sober, maybe you were used to buying a round of shots or taking turns paying for pitchers for the table. (Although, those nights were also accompanied by dangerous blackouts, killer hangovers, and endless passive-aggressive fights with your family). So, what can you order now that you’re sober? You’re in luck! There are insane amounts of non-alcoholic drinks and mixers that taste amazing, look sophisticated, and are just plain fun to drink.


Bars are a huge trigger for relapse. If you’re still in early recovery or you have a history of relapse, I do not recommend going to a bar. Either hold off until you’re completely confident and comfortable in your recovery or try and find new places to hang out with friend. But, if you get invited to go out and you feel that your foundation in recovery is strong and solid, there’s no reason that you can’t have fun with the rest of your bros on a night out.

Anxiety Over Ordering in Recovery

It’s very common for people to experience feelings of anxiety when ordering at a restaurant or a bar in recovery. (Again, stay away from those places if the anxiety is too much). Recovering alcoholics often worry that others will make a big deal about them not drinking. They also might worry about looking “un-cool” to the bartender if they order non-alcoholic drinks. “Can I get a virgin margarita?” doesn’t really seem too manly to most people. But you know what is cool? Realizing that your alcoholism hurts yourself and your loved ones… and, honestly, a tropical mocktail actually tastes much better than something infused with awful amounts of well vodka.

If your friends are true friends, then they’ll support your recovery. They may slip up and accidentally offer to buy you a drink, but a quick “water would be great!” will probably tip them off without you having to explicitly remind them. If you’re really concerned that your friends will give you a hard time about your non-alcoholic drinks, you might want to consider sitting this one out. A night out with your buds is not worth putting your hard-earned recovery in jeopardy.

As for the bartender or server… they really don’t care. They have a job to do and that’s sell drinks. That doesn’t just mean alcohol. As long as you’re buying something – soda, a virgin mojito, cranberry juice on ice, etc. – you’re helping them. And if you want to stick with water, they won’t mind. It takes virtually no time to fill a water glass.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Recovered Alcoholics:


Tonic Water and Lime

This is one of the easiest and most popular non-alcoholic drinks to order at a bar. Tonic water (or citrus soda, soda water, seltzer, etc.) is a classic alcohol mixer. But you can also drink it sans alcohol. The added lime will give it more flavor and you don’t have to deal with the vodka burn in your throat. And what’s more, the bartender will likely just ring it up as water, which is free!

Craft Sodas

A lot of bars will have a selection of cool craft sodas, like ginger ales and root beers. I definitely recommend trying one if the bar carries them. Craft sodas generally taste a lot better than your generic Coca-Cola products. You’ll also seem knowledgeable and sophisticated to your buddies who guzzle Coke Zero and likely had no idea that “craft soda” was even a thing.

Virgin Mojito

Some people don’t feel comfortable if they stand out. They think that drinking water, juice, or soda screams: “I’m not drinking!” In that case, a virgin mojito might be the way to go. The muddled garnishes make it look like your drink has alcohol in it. But in reality, you’re sipping on a cool, refreshing mocktail.

Virgin Mary

Bloody Marys are definitely an acquired taste. Some people love them and some people hate them. But if you like tomato juice and enjoy spicier drinks, a Virgin Mary is a good way to go. You’ll still get all the fun garnishes (olives, celery, pickles, etc.) and it’s one of the more exciting drinks at a bar, regardless of whether or not it’s made with alcohol.

Virgin Collins

A Tom Collins is the classic gin-mixed drink that your buddy’s uppity girlfriend always orders. But, don’t let that stop you from ordering the virgin version of this drink. A Tom Collins without the gin – a Virgin Collins – is a combination of soda water, lemon juice, and sugar syrup. It’s one of those classic non-alcoholic drinks that are sweet, refreshing, and easy to sip on. Plus, you can customize it by substituting the sugar syrup for something like grenadine or a non-alcoholic cordial, like elderflower.

Spice Up Your Shirley Temple

A Shirley Temple is the infamous “Sober Sally” drink. But let’s be real… Shirley Temples are delicious! We all know the base for a Shirley Temple: lemon-lime soda or ginger ale, grenadine, and a maraschino cherry. But you can easily ask a bartender to spice up the drink for you. Try it with soda water for a drier, bitter taste. Or splash some lemon juice in there for a citrus kick. Think of it as “Shirley’s (Sober) Sister” – who is also more responsible and healthier but still just as fun!


I promise, recovery does not take the fun out of things. If actually enhances them. Even going to a bar with your friends can be more fun sober. You’ll like the taste of what you’re drinking, you’re still socializing, and you’ll actually remember everything that happened when you wake up the next day.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism or another substance addiction, New Start can help. Call us at 855-737-7363 for a free and confidential screening or talk to us on our live chat.

Posted in Addiction, Alcoholism, Culture, Recovery