A bartender's Dry January tips

Anonymous bartender | January 2020 | 7 minutes

In this blog, an anonymous bartender gives his suggestions for how you can go to bars without drinking, and without feeling out of place!

Just because you’re taking part in Dry January, or attempting another period alcohol-free, that doesn’t mean you should avoid your favourite pub or bar. Although visiting those places without the intention of drinking alcohol can often feel daunting, it doesn’t need to! It's easy to assume you will be judged by your friends, the bartender or other people there, and you might even worry you’ll feel unwelcome. I’m writing this blog to relieve you of those worries, and make sure you can confidently walk into a bar and leave it sober, having had a great time. Because why shouldn’t you have the confidence to go out and enjoy everything bars have to offer during Dry January and beyond?

"People visiting my bar who are choosing not to drink are often a welcome breath of fresh air!"

Having worked in bars for the best part of my adult life, I’ve seen all of the worst that drinking can bring out in people. And having experienced all of this, people visiting my bar who are choosing not to drink are often a welcome breath of fresh air! I know that someone who isn’t drinking is almost definitely not going to cause other customers, the bar or bartenders any problems. There’s no need to feel like a burden to staff – they’re certainly not viewing you as one!

"The bar staff are always there to help you."

On top of this, although it might seem like our job as bartenders is to get people drunk and encourage them to drink alcohol, in reality our biggest concern is that people are enjoying themselves. This includes people who aren’t drinking, or who are limiting how much they’re drinking.

One of the most important things to remember is that the bar staff are always there to help you. So if you’ve never been to a bar with the intention of staying alcohol-free and you don’t know where to start, you can always ask your bartender for a recommendation. They can give you a rundown of what options they have available. This could be non-alcoholic beers, wines or spirits. It could be their range of soft drinks and juices. Or it could be a designated non-alcoholic cocktail list.

They can also help you if you’re around people who are drinking and you’re worried that they’ll treat you as though you’re not participating fully in the evening by not drinking alcohol. The bar staff will gladly serve your favourite soft drink in the same glass as a spirit and mixer if you ask them. No one else needs to know there’s no alcohol in your glass! This also works if the place you’re in doesn’t have any alcohol-free beer on draught, only bottles. Just ask for a couple of those bottles of alcohol-free beer to be served in a pint glass. These are great ways to feel more comfortable being in an environment where everyone is drinking without feeling like the eyes are on you for having a soda and lime. But there’s no harm in brushing up on your drink-refusal skills and how to resist cravings, just in case someone offers you an alcoholic drink.

"Not only can visiting bars in Dry January be just as fun as any other month, it can also give you a great incentive to go out and try new bars!"

Not only can visiting bars in Dry January be just as fun as any other month, it can also give you a great incentive to go out and try new bars! If you find that your go-to pub or bar doesn’t have the selection of non-alcoholic options you’d hoped for, check out some other venues in your area. Social media is a great place to see who is shouting about their alcohol-free options, and many places will have lots of new options to try in January. You can use this as a perfect excuse to finally go and try a new bar that’s just opened, or to visit a cocktail bar and see what their mocktails are like. You can even go to that new gastro-pub and spend some money you’re saving this month on treating yourself to a nice dinner rather than drinks.

These are just a few ways you can explore bars and pubs during Dry January (or any dry day/month/year!) without feeling out of place. It’s completely possible to go out and have a great time, and not drink any alcohol.