Ideas for what to order at a bar when you don't want booze

For health reasons, I have been trying to avoid alcohol. But sometimes I’m at a bar or out to dinner and I really want something other than seltzer or soda, something more interesting and more festive feeling. I love mojitos, anything with ginger or mint, mostly a gin drinker in the past. I don’t like anything too sweet-- more of a sour/bitter person. I don’t like anything spicy (other than ginger) in my drinks and I’m mildly allergic to pineapple. Any ideas of festive non-alcoholic drinks to order? I’m going to a cocktail bar tonight in Manhattan and I’m hoping they’ll come up with something creative for me but for more generic places I’d like to have something specific to ask for.


A good cocktail bar in NYC should have some nonalcoholic drinks.

What bar are you going to?

Seedlip is starting to come on the market, not sure if it is in NYC yet. It’s supposed to be good. It’s a “nonalcoholic spirit”.

You may want to get some of the nonalcoholic drinks books out there. One is by a friend of mine, Natalie Bovis “Preggatinis”.

I’ll see what others to recommend.

Some of these sound interesting.

My standard order in a pub is a pint of lime & soda. Also works well with spicy food, replacing beer (which I havent drunk for many years).

The problem, which I see you share, is that most non alcoholic drinks are sweet and it is not want I want if I’m going to be in a bar for any length of time. I may sip a tonic instead. A good cocktail bar should be able to offer a range of drinks - see if they can make a “virgin mojito” - all the base flavour notes but no booze. I like it.

Adding a little bitters to seltzer or soda can make you feel like you’re drinking a cocktail too.


Thanks. We are going to Raines Law Room. I’m assuming they’ll be able to make me something interesting. I’ll check out the links you listed.

I read that a mojito is decent sans alcohol so I may try that. I agree on the sweetness. I hate drinks that are too sweet so I don’t want to end up with a sugar bomb. Thanks for the ideas.

Apparently, one thing bartenders, errr… mixologists, dislike hearing most is “not too sweet”. It makes you wonder why they hear that request so often.

I like grapefruit juice, soda water, and a splash of bitters. A virgin mojito made properly is also great.

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Super basic . Order a San Pelligrino . It’s a simple Italian soda. My bar as I frequent I bring them in as a mixer. Works well all by them self. Looks like you are drinking a hip cocktail also.

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Thanks for the ideas everyone. Last night actually worked out great at this particular cocktail bar. I asked what they could make me without alcohol and the server asked what flavors I was in the mood for and I told him ginger, mint, and lime. He came back with an amazing strong ginger concoction that he said was made with in-house made ginger syrup and citrus syrups along with mint, and soda water I assume. It was more bracing than sweet and just spicy enough from the ginger to make it slowly sippable like a real cocktail. As I said this place is the real deal so it was a good place to leave it up to them, but I will definitely try some of your suggestions the next time I go out!


If you find yourself at a place where the bar isn’t that well-stocked, and/or the bartenders aren’t as interested in being creative, a bottle of bitter lemon is a good choice.

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Ginger ale with a dash of Grenadine, a splash of Angostura bitters and an orange slice.

I don’t think I have ever seen a bar in the US that serves Bitter Lemon. Hard to find in most supermarkets these days. And from what I tasted recently, it is nowhere as good as it use to be.

Raines Law Room, and all the bartenders, are pretty good. Meaghan Dorman, the beverage director for RLR, RLR at the William, Dear Irving, and the Bennet, is really good.

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It’s the preferred drink of one of my friends, who’s in recovery. I’ve seen her order it many times, and although I don’t have a crystal clear recollection of where, I know we’ve been drinking together at The Bitter End, The Whiskey Trader and The Swift Hibernian, all in Manhattan. It tastes fine to me, but I’ve only had a few sips over the past five-ish years, so I don’t know how it compares to the way it used to be.

I have a lot of friends and family who don’t drink alcohol. You can easily get some non-alcoholic options at any bar or restaurant.

Juice + soda, tonic water, or 7up is a solid choice. Add lime if you want. Easy options would be cranberry juice or OJ.
Many drinks can be made virgin – mojito, margarita, pina colada, etc. If the bartender seems confused on omitting/replacing the alcohol, suggest 7-up in place of the booze.
Moscow Mule, hold the vodka, so ginger beer with lime. Ask them to serve it in the chilled copper mug.
Ask the bartender to create something. One of my friends always asks the bartender to create a drink. It’s an easy way to try something new. A couple weeks ago, she ended up with a really good cucumber basil soda drink.

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I went to a restaurant last night and I told the waiter I wanted a mocktail and he immediately offered a virgin mojito (as many of you suggested) so I guess this request isn’t as unusual as I thought! It was so good that I barely missed the alcohol. They didn’t make it too sweet at all and I love anything with lime and mint so it was perfect. Can’t wait to try more of your suggestions!


Cranberry juice and soda made in a martini glass
Bloody Mary sans alcohol

If you ask the bartender to make the drink in any glass other than a soda glass, most drinks can pass as a cocktail.

Curious (seriously, not judging) why does a non-alcoholic drink have to “pass” as a cocktail? Sometimes I have a soft drink, sometimes a beer, sometimes a cocktail, sometimes wine. The same could be said for those with whom I dine. I cannot imagine judging others by what they choose to drink (or not).

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Not judging just offering a tip for those who wish to blend in. I have friends who do this to avoid the jokers who insist on asking why you’re not drinking.

If it was easy to avoid busy bodies life would be so simple!