I posted a picture of a beautiful mocktail on my Instagram account a few days ago and for a moment I thought that people seeing this would think that I’d fallen off the wagon. At a glance, it might appear that I was up to my old habits, leaning against a cool marble bar top at one of the area’s hottest speakeasy-style cocktail spots, snapping pictures of the gorgeous drink that sat before me. This isn’t a typical night out for me these days. It’s been months since I’ve set foot in a bar, since February to be exact. Hitting a cocktail spot isn’t exactly encouraged when you are getting sober and I can’t say that I would encourage it at any stage in sobriety as we all have different needs, but I had a motive.
This particular spot was a place that my husband had been wanting to check out for quite some time, but he was very patient about it while I found my sober feet. At no time did he ask me to go with him, as he knew I may never be able to. However, once I started mentioning that I was feeling ambitious about exploring places that might have mocktail offerings, he made the effort to get in touch with them. While they didn’t have mocktails on the menu, he was told that they would gladly mix something up upon request. During a particularly good day, I felt quite ready for an evening out and wanted to see what they might have in store.
As expected, the space was very nice, with stunning touches of art deco throughout. I’ll refrain from painting an overly detailed picture, as I’m not trying to glorify the cocktail bar experience for any sober people, but take my word for it that it was a lovely place. There was no question that this was meant for a legit classic cocktail experience, which I used to adore in my former life, but I found that I can still appreciate the atmosphere even now. The bartender approached with a glass of water in a pretty cut crystal glass while I fiddled nervously over the drink menu sitting in front of me, pretending to read it. When she asked the necessary question of what I’d like to drink, I timidly asked if a mocktail would be possible. I braced myself, believing they were going to look at me like I was being completely ridiculous for coming to a place like this and then requesting something without booze. I was ready for the eye rolls, the huffs, the you have got to be kidding me attitude, but none of that came. Instead, she was very gracious in accommodating my request without a single remark other than to ask about my flavor preferences. I watched her work her magic and was presented with a lovely glass of citrus and herbal goodness topped off with a sprig of rosemary, sans alcohol. This was leaps above my usual club soda and lime.
I was both relieved and surprised. There was an ease that took over and I was able to settle in and feel comfortable in a space that might otherwise have induced a great deal of anxiety. I’m well aware that I owe that, in part, to my nearly five months of recovery; however, those bartenders deserve credit for making this painless. No one wants to deal with alcohol snobbery, not even drinkers, and that didn’t exist here. My second mocktail order was much easier to work through and I found that all the bartenders were nothing short of happy to discuss alcohol-free options. I learned this wasn’t an altogether unusual request for them, which is what I was hoping for. I wanted to see how easy it might be to show up at this type of establishment and discover something that could work for a non-drinker. Something that would make us feel like we belong if we found ourselves at such a spot for any number of reasons. While I don’t envision myself bar-hopping all over the city on a given night and I particularly recognize that being in a cocktail bar might not work for everyone, I am pleased that there may be some solid options for non-drinkers around town. You also don’t have to be a card-carrying member of the sobriety club to get in on this. Someone mentioned to me recently that so many people worship at the altar of alcohol these days that it would be nice so show them that they can still be a part of the experience without the fuzzy head and hangovers. That is exactly what I intend to do.