How to not drink in drinking spaces

Experience the atmosphere without the alcohol

There’s no shortage of drinking spaces in Portland. From restaurants, bars and clubs to concerts, events and parties, Portland seems like a drinking city. But for those who’d rather experience the atmosphere without the alcohol, here are tips on how to not drink in drinking spaces.

Opt for the usual soda such as Coke, Dr. Pepper, Sprite, etc. as an alternative when out with friends. Besides soft drinks, there are many other creative substitutions for alcohol.

For brunch, instead of having a waitress take drink orders, go to the bar and ask for a virgin Bloody Mary or an Apple Citrus, which looks like champagne but tastes even better.

At a club, the best substitutes for mixed drinks are simply tonic water with lime or soda water with lemon. Both drinks are alcohol-free (but still appear alcoholic), and most bartenders won’t charge for just soda water or tonic water. Plain ginger ale or Perrier in a cocktail glass is another alternative. For all other drink orders simply ask the bartender for whatever cocktail minus the alcohol. For example, “Sex on the Beach” without the alcohol will translate to a cranberry and orange juice mix without the vodka, schnapps or liqueur.

The usual dive bars and breweries will almost always offer nonalcoholic beers. Ask for Kalibar, Clausthauler or Erdinger, all completely nonalcoholic and delicious. Opting for kombucha is another nonalcoholic alternative to beer.

When on a wine tasting tour or at a wine bar, most of the time nonalcoholic red and white wines are available. Ask for a pour of Fre white wine or Ariel Cabernet Sauvignon red wine. Ariel offers flavors and aromas found in usual red wines such as black currants, cherries, blueberries, chocolate, with soft tannins and a dry finish, and without the actual alcohol content.

When dining at a restaurant bar it’s possible to get a little more creative with nonalcoholic drinks. The usual Shirley Temple mix in exchange for cocktails is a traditional substitution. There’s also pink lemonade or pomegranate lemonade, Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half iced tea), or Tiger Woods (⅓ lemonade, ⅓ iced tea, ⅓ pomegranate lemonade) as a not-too-far-fetched replacement to the usual fruity mixed drinks. Ginger beer with cranberry juice or seltzer, cranberry juice and a slice of lime are among some of the substitutions available. Other creative alternatives include iced tea or ginger ale with a dash of Angostura bitters; the bitters do have a miniscule amount of alcohol, but overall it’s a viable nonalcoholic substitution.

At concerts, order the well drinks without the alcohol. Ask the bartender for a Tequila Sunrise without the tequila, which is orange juice, grenadine and cherries.

Even speciality drinks can be easily made nonalcoholic. Virgin espresso martinis (which is espresso and cream in a martini glass), piña coladas, margaritas and mojitos can be made virgin, losing the alcohol but none of the flavor.

Remember, most alcoholic cocktails can be made without alcohol, and most drinking spaces will accommodate those nondrinkers with appropriate alternatives.