Dear Sober Abbi: Taking On The Bars

April 20, 2016 | By | Comments (6)


This is not real footage of Sober Abbi at bars, because Sober Abbi actually enjoys going out.

This is not real footage of Sober Abbi at bars, because Sober Abbi actually enjoys going out.

Dear Sober Abbi is a millennial’s celebration of sobriety beginning in 2016. As of this post, Abbi is 110 days alcohol-free. She’ll answer your questions about navigating social settings, crises, and pretty much anything else if you comment below.

Yesterday, I had visions of sugar plums and piña coladas in my head – so I thought it’d be a good time to keep myself accountable and write another post. Thank you to everyone who has written me questions! As promised, here is a continuation of my sober journey.

Q: What do you do at bars?
So, a couple things with this. I am a firm believer that if you’re going to go to an establishment and spend four hours enjoying their music and environment and having fun, you should pay the people that are working there. This in itself poses a little bit of a problem – because you’re usually not charged for drinking water. And, if you order a Diet Coke, the bartenders usually take pity on you, assuming you’re the DD, and you’re charged $2. Most of the time, it’s free.

My solution? At the end of the night, I make sure to tip generously. Last weekend, I actually had to ask the bartender to charge me for a soda, so that I could tip him on my card. And, people are happy to do this for you. An extra bonus – even with a large tip, you’ll save a ton of money when you go out, because drinking is expensive. Also, I have never ever had to worry about being sober enough to drive home, or my friends getting home safely, or waking up with a hangover. These three things alone are completely worth it to me.

Q: Do you order anything? Do you just walk around empty-handed?
I order club soda with lime, without fail. Occasionally I’ll swap it out for a Diet Coke if I’m feeling adventurous. Drinking a club soda with lime gives the appearance that I’m drinking a gin and tonic, so it lets me feel like I’m still fun and not the odd one out. You can even go so far as to ask for your Diet Coke in a rocks glass, if this would make you more comfortable.

I want to note, here, that by no means is this a way of demonstrating that I (or you) should be embarrassed that I (or you) have given up alcohol. I’ve simply found it means less pressure and less questions. Then, you can choose to tell and explain your choice to whomever you’d like; they don’t just automatically know or judge you for it. Plot twist – you can appreciate people much more when you’re sober.

Q: How do you buy someone a drink?
You people overestimate me. Hypothetically, I have no problem actually purchasing alcohol – it’s the consumption I’m staying away from.

I would actually like to flip this around to be “What do you do when someone asks to buy YOU a drink?” because I have an answer for this. I say, “I actually don’t drink, but I appreciate the thought! I’d love another club soda with lime.” (And, I voraciously suck down my current club soda with lime.) If you’re not comfortable with this, you can always go with the “I’m the designated driver!” route. This is actually a great way to weed out the men you should stay away from at bars.

Responses I’ve gotten:
“That’s weird.”
“That’s really cool! How long has that been going on for?”

Ding ding ding! We have a winner, ladies and gentleman. If you’re meeting strangers at bars, the ones that are worth your time will respect and appreciate your choices, and will be happy to bring you another club soda with lime.

Q: Have you had any issues with friends no longer calling or asking you to do things just because you no longer drink?
Thankfully, no! I have some terrific people around me in that regard. To be honest, I think my friends actually want to go out with me MORE, because they know that there’s a sober driver/friend to look out for them.

If this is an issue for you, I’d try recommending places where there’s more to do than just drink. Maybe there’s a bar with some pool tables, darts, or corn hole that you can play. Maybe y’all go out for that drinking + painting combination deal. There are always other options that don’t revolve around drinking, and hopefully your friends will respect that decision and compromise.

Stay tuned on Dear Sober Abbi’s journey for:
How do you stay accountable?
What do you do after a bad day?
Have you replaced alcohol with something else in your life?
What do you do during toasts?

Earlier: Dear Sober Abbi: Why, Though?


  1. Dear Sober Abbi: Working For The Weekend | Cooking Light

    […] the not-drinking-part keep me from anything I want to do. Even with coworkers, I would order my go-to bar drink, and have a good […]

    May 18, 2016 at 6:00 am
  2. Bec

    Great job. I too. like Ellen feel that I left too much of my young life in bars with little return. Sure dancing is fun and so is darts but the man of my life was not met in a bar – but alot of the pains in my life were…

    April 24, 2016 at 8:54 am
  3. Kp

    First of all, congrats on your sobriety.
    Secondly, a suggestion: if you want to be really nice to your server or bartender, leave a cash tip. No paper trail for taxes.

    April 23, 2016 at 12:30 am
  4. Ellen Wells

    First, congratulations on your sobriety! My question would be, why do you go to nightclubs and bars? I never go to either, even on vacation. And I am a moderate drinker. I spent many nights wasting my life in bars and nightclubs. Today, I would rather go to book signing/readings, plays, spend my time volunteering and so many other things. I would sooner spend time at home than in a bar. Life doesn’t happen in bars. Trust me. I’m in my late 40s and I’ve never had the same joy in a dank bar that I have felt doing tons of other activities.

    Good luck and live life to the fullest!

    April 22, 2016 at 11:31 pm
  5. Stephanie

    I’m newly sober. I have tried going to bars to drink diet soda but it lasts only for so long before I pick up a drink. I’m taking the advice of others in sobriety and not going to bars at all. If they don’t serve food, I really have no business there. If I am somewhere for a special event, I bring sober friends with me so I’m not the odd man out. I think it’s better for me to be safe than sorry later. Not drinking feels great and I don’t want to risk it.

    April 22, 2016 at 10:26 pm
  6. Marie

    I wish I would have read an article like this in my younger drinking days( it might have prevented some bad nights/mornings). Baby bommers parents didn’t talk too much to thier kids about things like this. Don’t know if I would have not drank at all but the article has goods tips. Definitely forwarding this to my college boys. Thanks

    April 22, 2016 at 6:33 am

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