Embrace the many zero-alcohol drink options out there and stop bloody serving OJ, writes Madeleine Chapman for The Spinoff.
How many times have you been at home, or at work, or at a concert, or at a birthday party, or at a formal event, and thought, "What would go really well with this experience is some orange juice"?
If your answer isn't "every time", please stop serving exclusively orange juice to non-drinkers every time. Non-alcoholic drink options at an event with alcoholic drinks barely even qualifies as an afterthought. Much care and thought will go into making sure to cater to the different beer and wine drinkers, plus that one person who will only drink Malibu for some reason, then half an hour before people arrive, someone will remember that not everyone drinks alcohol and someone else will mutter "just put out some juice" and that'll be it.
How did this happen? Is it that an orange beverage looks somehow classier than every other option? Did New Zealand as a nation strike a deal with Big OJ ions ago and now we're trapped in this citrus hell forever?
It's as if the very concept of a nice cold drink is rendered obsolete in the presence of alcohol. Serving only orange juice as your non-alcoholic drink option is lazy, not to mention cheap. There are so many ways to make up exciting, respectable drinks for your ADULT friends who happen to not be getting drunk with you. So next time you put on an event and spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on alcohol, put that four-litre bottle of Keri orange juice back on the shelf and consider these options instead.
Drinks that taste like drinks
Sometimes people who used to drink decide not to drink any more. Going from drinking a crate of beer in one night to drinking two litres of pulpy OJ is not the buzz. Thankfully, zero-alcohol beers are only getting better and are available where most beers are sold. For those who used to drink to excess, zero alcohol beers are a safe and tasty option when heading into a long night. "My favourite is Asahi Zero," said one former drinker. "Zero alcohol, zero carbs, and tastes decent."
"Heineken 0.0% is good for the barbecues," added another teetotaller. Asahi and Heineken offer the staple zero-alcohol beers, while Export Citrus 0% is a twist on the old classic.
Alcohol-removed wine is less popular than beer but still available. Edenvale has a line of alcohol-removed wines (though important to note that some still have traces of alcohol, so read the label carefully before serving to recovering drinkers). Honestly, it may seem el cheapo, but sparkling grape juice works really well at events where toasts will be made. Don't make people toast with a glass of water or, you guessed it, orange juice.
I'll be honest, I don't get this one. There are now non-alcoholic spirits available for making realistic mocktails but not only do they cost as much, if not more, than regular spirits, they also don't even taste like regular spirits. Don't pay $60 for a bottle of fake gin that doesn't taste like gin. You're better than that. Just make a regular mocktail instead.
One colleague, who definitely doesn't frequent day spas, offered up her favourite non-alcoholic drink mix: "Sparkling water with lemon, cucumber and mint. Makes you feel like you are at a fancy day spa (I imagine)." These ingredients are not hard to come by, and with just a smidge of effort, you can elevate your party from a kids' party to an adults' party.
Drinks for people who hate the taste of drinks
Lemon, lime and bitters is the classic. It comes in a glass bottle (wow, fancy) and has the peach look of a cocktail without any of the work. Again, remember that bitters is technically alcohol. It's hardly sophisticated but generic soft drinks aka mixers before they're mixed never go amiss. For those attending all-night events (eg bachelor/ette parties), energy drinks can work to keep up the enthusiasm for being awake, but drinking more than a couple, even throughout the night, can be just as bad as getting drunk. Said one formerly heavy drinker: "I used to drink a lot of Red Bull and energy drinks until I realised it also gives you a hangover."
If you don't want a sugar hangover (or an alcohol hangover) but you want to have a big night, have some coffee at your party. An iced coffee at a sunny afternoon event where you're not drinking? Mwah.
Of everyone I spoke to who attends events and doesn't drink, not a single person named orange juice as their non-alcoholic drink of juice. Come on, New Zealand, let's get out of the pocket of Big OJ and put a little effort in for our frankly more sensible friends.