Anything to drink?

Ah, drinking.

I miss you like sushi. And my waist. And stretches of sleep that lasted 7 hours. And having a deep and cavernous belly-button, the mysteries of which could only be guessed at.

Mind you, I don't miss it as much as I thought I would. In fact, all things being equal, if you asked me to choose between a california roll and a chardonnay right now I'd probably go for the crab meat. I'm as surprised by this as anyone.

What I didn't realise before I got pregnant was just how much pregnant women have to drink, generally. You may not be encouraged to "eat for two"* but when it comes to liquid intake it's a great time to get your (non-alcoholic) drink on because if human beings are generally "ugly giant bags of mostly water" then the pregnant are even more so. After all you have several extra kilos of blood and amniotic fluid to produce, not to mention the lovely watery cushioning you apparently need for your ankles, too. Maintaining all this requires drinking a lot, mainly water though I like to mix it up a bit with a ginger beer or diet soft drink.

This is my first real period as a non-drinker (in the boozy definition of the word) for, well, almost my entire adult life but I still like to go out and socialise (socialising without booze, it is actually possible!). I'm given to understand that my opportunities for bar-hopping will be few and far between in a month or so, so I'm making the most of it and the Silver Fox and I have been dining out a bit.

And here's the thing - the hospitality industry does not seem at all keen on selling me non-alcoholic beverages.

I mean, they will but they don't always make it easy. A long and exhaustive list of craft beers might be on the blackboard behind the bar but likely no booze-free alternatives are listed. On several instances in a restaurant I've struggled to answer the "anything to drink?" question as the drinks menu only has wine and beer on it. Almost as if the notion that someone might want to order something non-alcoholic is so unlikely they didn't think to plan for that eventuality. For an industry that sells food, booze and other drinks this seems a bit weird. 

I mean, imagine if Glassons sold, oh, I don't know...belts**, but kept them out the back where you couldn't see them and if you wanted one you had to ask an assistant to describe all of them to you and how much they cost. It wouldn't make you overly keen on buying a belt, would it? You might just settle for a nice scarf instead.

I suppose you could make an argument that the profit margin on non-booze isn't what you can make on lager, but then you pay $6 for a bottle of ginger beer and that argument's bum falls out. Though, I suppose there's no equivalent tipping point with ginger beer where you have three and then before you know it you've had nine and can someone call me a taxi please, and does anyone know whose pants these are? So in that respect I can see how beery beer is a much more lucrative product.

But that does rather make the whole idea of "host responsibility" a bit of a joke, doesn't it?

The situation of finding that the only way to know what non-alcoholic beverages a restaurant or bar has is to question a staff member at length has happened so many times now that it gets me quite grumpy. The last time, a week or so ago, I refused to order any drinks and had tap water out of spite. If the motivation for not making your booze-free options more accessible is a cynical one based on profit, then I'll not play along. If it's just out of ignorance then I can mention it to the wait staff.

Because the world needs belts and non-alcoholic beverages. For without them, how will we keep our pants on?

Have you noticed that ordering a non-alcoholic drink is more difficult than getting the boozy kind? It's okay if you haven't. I certainly never did. Is it just a no-brainer to include these on a drinks menu? Do we marginalise non-drinkers in Kiwi society?

*I'll just have the one icecream, then... this morning.

**Belts. I remember those fondly.

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