When the Guests Want a Drink, but They Don’t Drink…

24 August 2010 By Kelly Sanford

Cocktail hour and yachting go hand in hand, but you may, over the course of your career, come across guests or owners who don’t drink. They may not like the taste of alcohol, they may not drink for religious reasons or they may be recovering from an alcohol addiction. Whatever the reason, it helps to know of a few good drinks to serve guests who don’t drink. Non-drinkers generally fall into three categories, the secretive non-drinker, the unapologetic non-drinker, and the principled non-drinker.

You may encounter a group of guests who enjoy cocktail hour but among them is one who – for whatever reason- does not drink alcohol and does not want to debate it with his or her companions. There could be an underlying health issue or moral issue which the non-drinker would like to keep out of the conversation. For the secretive non-drinker, who does not want it make it obvious that they are a non-drinker, suggest beverages that look like alcoholic drinks: club soda with lime, ginger ale, cranberry juice, soda etc. For the secretive non-drinker, it is often appreciated when crew can discretely offer them a refill without divulging their no-drinking secret. Simply ask, “Care for another?” or “The usual?”

Unapologetic non-drinkers typically don’t have an intriguing reason why they don’t drink, they simply don’t like to drink alcohol or perhaps they are not yet old enough to drink. For the un-apologetic non-drinker, virgin versions are always a good option: mojitos without rum; boozeless pina coladas, margaritas or daiquiris; virgin Marys. For large groups of unapologetic non-drinkers, offer exotic teas or make pitchers of custom punch with slices of fresh fruit added.

Principled non-drinkers are often people who used to drink but are not currently drinking. The most common principled non-drinkers are recovering alcoholics, pregnant women and religious individuals. When you have guests aboard who enjoy drinks like beer and wine, but cannot drink alcohol, it is good to know of a few premium alcohol-free varieties of wine or beer.

In the realm of non-alcoholic wines there are three big players: Fre by Sutter Home, St. Regis and Ariel wines. “Though I do not personally produce any non-alcoholic wines here in California, Ariel has a very good reputation,” says master wine-maker Joel Burstein with Marilyn Remark winery. Across the pond, two German vineyards are producing non-alcoholic wine available in the EU: Eisberg Vineyard and Carl Jung Vineyard.

Major label varieties of alcohol free beers include Anheuser Busch’s O’Douls, which comes in green label and amber, Miller Brewing Company’s Sharps, St. Pauli Girl’s St. Pauli Girl N.A., Guinness’s full bodied non-alcoholic beer called Caliber and the “disappointing -but better than nothing” Buckler by Heineken. In addition, because of the growing popularity of NA beers, regional microbreweries may offer their own varieties of NA beer, ginger-beer or root beer. It is worth checking with your purveyors for regional options.

The real key to placate a non-drinker drinker is to adapt your mixology repertoire to include non-alcoholic beverages well suited to a grown-up palate. When put to the challenger, bartender Kevin Doyle at The Hangar on the Wharf Bar in Juneau, Alaska offered up a drink he calls a “Mature Eagle.”

Non-Alcoholic Mature Eagle Cocktail

5oz. Apple Cider

2.5oz. Ginger Beer

Stir gently and serve over ice in a highball glass.