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The Metro Bars & Clubs 2003 Guide
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Thanks, Designated Driver!

An appreciation, and some tips, for the nondrinker

By Yoshi Kato

IT'S THE SAME dilemma that a vegetarian might face at a surf & turf restaurant or a declared non-sports fan confronted with an afternoon at the ballpark: What does the nondrinker do at a bar?

For starters, designated drivers (DD) should speak up. Bars such as Paul & Eddie's in Cupertino offer free sodas to car key keepers. Dubbed "designated losers" in high school, DDs are now universally respected by bartenders, owners and pretty much all those old enough to drink.

Those who are not on DD duty but who still aren't drinking can enjoy the bar experience nonetheless, particularly since most have gone nonsmoking according to California state law. (Nondrinking smokers can always take a puff outside, even at special patio areas outside certain bars.) As most "Amenities" sections of this very guide will show, there's plenty to do without having to lift a glass--pool shuffleboard and Megatouch Maxx don't require spirits to enjoy.

For those who want to enjoy a nonalcoholic beverage, there are several alternatives. Most establishments can make nonalcoholic versions of most of their drinks. (Manhattans and Long Island Iced Teas are among the drinks that can't authentically be modified.) These drinks are more like liquid desserts than drinks, so there's no reason an adult nondrinker shouldn't enjoy a nice Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri, Chocolate Banana or Pina Colada. It should bring back memories of either one's last tropical vacation or one's first trip to a Mexican family eatery chain.

Also a possibility are Virgin Margaritas with salt. Yes, it's a lower-impact drink than its "real" sibling, but the mixing of the saltiness of the rim and the sweet spryness of the drink make for one of life's nicer contradictions. Or try asking for an Innocent Passion, which, according The Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide, contains mostly passion fruit juice and club soda with a touch of cranberry and lemon juices.

The Virgin Mary is the "extreme" version of a Spicy V-8; it's fun to watch a bartender create one. Some will ask how spicy to make it, so fans of the drink should learn how much Tabasco and sometimes horseradish is preferable for their tastes.

Finally, a word about coffee: Most bars carry the same industrial-strength coffee grinds that one might find at an office with a Staples account, not one with ties to the local Peet's. It's there to sober customers up, not to please discerning coffee drinkers. So play it safe and stick to the cafes for good coffee or espresso drinks.



Metro Bars & Clubs 2003 Features

Five Terrifying Minutes of Fame: Friends don't let friends sing, "Dude Looks Like a Lady" ... and other karaoke tips.

Caffeine Nation: A list of coffeehouses--the cream of the crop.


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From the June 19-25, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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