Don’t Drink, Don’t Smoke – What Do You Do?

Guess what, Snarklings! It’s time to answer a question from a reader! A question that gave the Lady of the Manners a chance to use an Adam Ant lyric for a title, but she is a bit surprised the query hasn’t come up before, actually.

Dearest Lady of the Manners,
Hello! I must say you are a huge inspiration to me, and I think you are just Wonderful! I’m writing to you with a… simple question. Like, overly simple. Is it practical to be goth and not drink alcoholic beverages? I’ve been goth for six years now, and chosen a very long time ago to follow a straight edge lifestyle (I assume you know that means no drugs, alcohol, etc), and until now this has not been any sort of problem. Now that I’m of age and can linger and whatnot with other goth individuals, the choice is starting to have.. not that great of an effect. It seems that a particularly favorite pass time of any goth that I meet is going out on weekends or Friday nights to clubs and drinking. I’ve tried going to the club with friends, them drinking and me not at all, all of us dancing and having a mostly good time, and while I’m not really scorned and made fun of for not drinking, it isn’t the same. I end up feeling like almost a third wheel, or getting the vibe that I’m not wanted around there occasionally. And I truly try not be a buzz kill!!! (Which isn’t too hard for me, considering my natural self is rather goofy and quirky) They’re all great friends, they just have different views on drinking than I do. Is there any advice you can give? Do you think I will be forced to give up one or the other? And while on the topic of beverages, do you know any non-alcoholic beverages that are particularly “gothy” and tasty?
Thank you for Everything!

Dearest KittyPirate, and any other Snarklings who may have been wondering about this: it is absolutely alright to be goth and not drink alcoholic beverages! Now, the Lady of the Manners understands how the confusion would arise, as a lot of goth social life is focused on going to night clubs and fancy events. Not to mention the fact that many of the historical roots of goth are strongly entwined around the notions of being transgressive, redefining what is beautiful, and being terribly, terribly decadent.

However, it is possible to embrace all of those notions while not intoxicated! And that in some ways, being a part of the goth subculture while not drinking is a more daring and rebellious viewpoint to hold than the alternative, because it means that your thoughts aren’t blurred by anything other than your own visceral reactions.

As to your feeling “like almost a third wheel, or getting the vibe that I’m not wanted around there occasionally”, the Lady of the Manners must ask you a somewhat pointed question: have any of your friends actually said such things? Or are you perhaps creating concerns that don’t exist? Perhaps the Lady of the Manners has been very lucky with her social circles, but she’s never heard of anyone she knows in the goth community excluding someone because they choose not to drink alcohol.

Try this: the next time you go out with your friends, don’t mention drinking. Don’t comment on your choice to not drink alcohol, don’t comment on your friends’ choices to drink. Try not to bring it up at all, try not to think about it, and then see how the evening goes.

However, if your friends have been making comments about not wanting you around because you’re straight-edge, then what to do is very clear: make new friends. The Lady of the Manners doesn’t mean that in a flippant way, she’s quite serious. Friends should respect your boundaries and decisions, even if they don’t share them. Spending time with people who don’t, or who mock you for your choices is a losing game, and you shouldn’t call those people friends.

As for suggestions for “gothy” non-alcoholic beverages, don’t feel you have to select anything, be it a beverage, a book, an article of clothing, or a friend, based on how goth it is. (Yes, the Lady of the Manners is sure you know that, but repeating that basic truth never hurts.) With that caveat out of the way, some non-alcoholic beverages that the Lady of the Manners is particularly fond of are:

  • Ask the bartender what they can make that is tasty and non-alcoholic! It’s easy to order a beverage that appear to be some sort of cocktail, but doesn’t contain any alcohol. Because sometimes people feel uncomfortable or judged if someone else is pointedly Not Drinking, even if that’s not what the non-drinker intended at all. So a beverage that looks like a cocktail can be effective social camouflage.
  • 7-Up or Sprite with a splash of bitters. The Lady of the Manners is fairly certain that every bar or club will have regular bitters for drink mixing, so requesting this type of beverage shouldn’t perplex whomever is behind the bar. (Be aware that bitters are made with small amount of alcohol, so if your goal is to completely avoid alcohol, you may want to skip bitters.)
  • Tonic water with a few wedges of lime. Mmmm, quinine! Plus, tonic water glows under black lights, which is always fun. If you don’t like quinine, or don’t want the sugar, club soda is also an option.
  • If you like tomato juice (some folks don’t), a “virgin” or non-alcoholic Bloody Mary is always an option. Plus, you can tell yourself that you’re having one of your daily recommended servings of vegetables and feel extra-virtuous.
  • Fizzy water with a dash of flavored syrup and a splash of bitters. The Lady of the Manners has a small collection of different flavors of syrups and bitters just for this purpose! Rose syrup with cardamom bitters, vanilla syrup with a splash of grapefruit bitters, or violet syrup with cardamom bitters are some of the Lady of the Manners’ particular favorites. Admittedly, your chances of finding a selection of fancy bitters and syrup at the local goth club are slim, but still ask!

Do any of you lovely Snarklings reading have a suggestion for tasty non-alcoholic beverages? Share them in the (moderated, as always!) comments!

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20 Responses to Don’t Drink, Don’t Smoke – What Do You Do?

  1. juliana says:

    As a point of interest – not all bitters are made with alcohol. Angostura, the most common bitter, and Peychaud’s, the second-most common, are – but Fee Brothers Bitters (in particular – there are quite a few non-alcoholic brands) are glycerin-based, not alcohol-based, so those are safe for complete teetotalers. Fee Brothers in particular has a wonderful bitter called Aztec Chocolate Bitters, which includes cacoa, pepper, and spices.

  2. Margrethe says:

    Hear hear! My darling husband does not drink, and he settles for root beer or lemon lime soda at venues, which they are perfectly happy to poor.

    Another possibility is fizzy water (or soda water) with some grenadine syrup, for those who prefer a sweet rather than bitter. Though any of the syrup/bitters can be done without the bitters per individual’s taste.

  3. Three cheers for this post! As a Goth mama who has been pregnant or nursing for the better part of 3 years (so far…), it’s great to have some drink options!
    Fizzy water with grenadine is DELICIOUS πŸ™‚

  4. Trystan says:

    What about non-nightclub activities? Picnics in graveyards, poetry-readings at cafes, stitch n’ bitch nights, tea parties, etc., all are less obviously alcohol-influenced. Create your own event & invite your friends. They can bring booze if they like, but when you design it, you can ensure that a bar is not the main feature, & thus your not drinking isn’t a big deal.

    Bonus: daytime events are a great chance to better show off fancy outfits that get lost in dark clubs or wear delicate vintage clothes that could get damaged in the club crowds πŸ™‚

  5. AJ Von Purr says:

    I too am sober but I have a blast going out with my friends to the club to dance it up! One does not need to imbibe in spirits in order to have fun. As a frequent DD, I can say that dressing up to go out and dancing my tail feathers off is much more fun than getting plastered. My friends never make me feel badly about not drinking. If your friends do, perhaps it is time for new friends…

  6. Kambriel says:

    Seconding Trystan’s suggestions about non-club-based & daytime activities. Creatively themed tea parties are a fantastic option & you can either host them at home, find a place locally that hosts them, or arrange one outdoors at a nearby park, beach, etc…

    In addition to having spent many years going to goth events perfectly sober, I’m a lifelong vegetarian ~ and not drinking alcohol with friends whilst out & about isn’t that different from going to dinner with others who order something with meat while I simply order something that doesn’t. As a nice side bonus, not drinking alcoholic beverages at clubs can also save a lot of $, so if you’re at a show, you can use that to instead buy a t-shirt/cd/poster & if you drive/have a car, you can offer to be the designated driver for your friends πŸ™‚

    Above all, don’t think it’s ever required to do/eat/drink/wear/etc… anything you don’t want to in order to “fit in”. As a goth you already know a lot about striking out on your own path rather than conforming to the norm, so just consider this aspect of yourself a further extension of that & enjoy! πŸ™‚

  7. Liberty Fox says:

    I wonder if it is also an age thing. I was out to dinner with some friends recently, and when some (alcoholic) drinks were ordered for the table, one of the friends remarked how we had moved past the stage of pressuring others to drink or take part in sculling competitions. And then we pondered the knowledge of the fact we had grown up. D:

  8. Cameo says:

    I don’t mind drinking the occasional alcoholic beverage, but since alcohol is more expensive than soda and I don’t like the taste of most kinds, I often find myself in the same boat as the teetotalers. I myself have a great fondness for unusual flavours and small ‘indie’ brands of soda. (Jones Soda being the most recognisable example.) You can’t necessarily expect a club or bar to carry unusual sodas, admittedly, so this may be better advice for another event, but I think black cherry soda is plenty goth.

  9. alumiere says:

    Other good drinks include virgin daquaris, a virgin madras (oj & cranberry), or sprite/gingerale & cranberry or oj. Add a shot of grenadine on top of a mix of oj and sour and you’ve got a virgin sunrise. And if the bars do irish coffees, you can get a lovely glass mug of coffee and whipped cream without the booze too. Your bartender probably has more suggestions based on their stock, so don’t hesitate to ask.

    And yes, if you’re willing, volunteer to DD… my boi doesn’t drink, and we frequently drive a carload of friends. Then no-one in your group is at risk of having one too many to drive. Also, quite a few bars give DDs free water or soda – they lose little to no money because those with you will probably have an extra drink since they don’t have to worry about getting home.

  10. ash! says:

    I also don’t drink, and often I will order ginger ale, or go in the cute direction and get a Shirley Temple! I’ve gotten raised eyebrows and “really?”s from bartenders, but I’m enjoying myself!
    The only time I’ve really run into awkwardness is when someone has insisted on buying me a drink — they sometimes make a ruckus when you get something non-alcoholic. But “yeah, I have to work in the morning, it sucks” covers many bases.

  11. Nicole says:

    Mocktail it!
    most places will offer some sort of mocktail for the designated drivers.

  12. Raven Vamp says:

    I’m never going to drink. Not for as long as I live. I swear on my own soul.

  13. Vitt says:

    I don’t like the taste of alcoholics, plus I’m too afraid to get drunk, lose control and then throw up (I suffer from emetophobia). all I can do is drink a little bit of light beer, and only while I’m eating.
    Last year a friend of mine invited me to a party with no food and no sodas, only alcoholics, and that made me quite unconfortable since she’s perfectly aware of my fears. I had to bring some coca cola with me!

  14. Jes says:

    I rarely drink when I go out. I almost always just get coke and nobody has ever once given me issue. Sometimes, they’ll even keep the refills coming for free if I’m the designated driver. πŸ™‚

  15. onix says:

    i normaly look for a good NA beer or get a cranberry and lemanade…both are tasty…though with the neerbeer i get more looks of “IS he drinking???most at my club of choice (including the bartenders and owners)know i dont drink any more.

  16. Fee says:

    Seconding some of the other suggestions and those of the Lady of the Manners – drink things because they taste good, but there’s plenty of drinks out there that don’t scream teetotal the same way a glass of tap water does. Being the designated driver is also very good advice, as free drinks. πŸ˜‰

    I would also suggest examining why you chose to be teetotal; I don’t want to dismiss it if it’s an important issue to you (or, indeed, a health concern), but if you decided ages ago that you didn’t want to drink and it’s doesn’t really apply to you any more, you can decide that you do actually want to drink a little (which a teetotal friend of mine recently did). But if you just don’t feel like drinking, that’s also fine. πŸ™‚

  17. Midnight says:

    As a lover of black light, I’ve found tonic water by itself is all right, but tonic water with lemon juice or lemonade makes a stronger glow and tastes better.

  18. Stormbringer says:

    I’m quite fond of pomegranate juice. If you can only get the concentrate, that’s fine too. Mixed with soda water or straight on the rocks it’s a very healthy, iron rich drink – I love it’s crimson colour too. It tastes slightly tart, like a yoghurt flavoured drink. Very nice.

  19. Infiltrator_N7 says:

    There is no rule that all goths must drink alcohol and smoke clove cigarettes. Those are just clichés and stereotypes. Sure a lot of goths do drink and smoke but not all. If your friends think you’re a third wheel and don’t really want you around because you don’t drink than I’m sorry but they’re not very good friends. True friends do not care if you have made the choice to not drink or not smoke or become vegetarian or whatever. A good friend would be supportive and still include you regardless. Don’t let anyone pressure you to do something you’re not comfortable with. I agree with the Lady of the Manners don’t bring it up, don’t highlight differences between you and your friends, just don’t make a thing of it and just be. Just let the night unfold and enjoy. You can still have fun with your friends at a goth club (or doing anything else) without you drinking even if they are. Whoever says you need alcohol to have fun lack imagination. There are other activities you can organise that aren’t alcohol-related and just as fun like the ones other posters have suggested. Also, some places do non-alcoholic cocktails (aka mocktails) which I recommend trying. You can get some really delicious flavours.

  20. Nick says:

    The list of my beverages of preference is rather short. I hate the taste of most industrialized juices, as they’re often watered down and sugared up, I avoid caffeinated drinks (they disagree with my brain, and make me bitterly regret having taken them for the rest of the day), and I never drink alcohol.

    Most of my friends know of my preferences, and I just insist that I don’t drink when people don’t know of it yet. Besides, I have a wonderful excuse to mimic Bela Lugosi as Dracula when people offer me a drink.

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