Tips and templates
To get a YES
Going out alcohol-free can be a challenge
But it doesn’t have to be. For way too long non-drinkers have been presented with hugely limited options. Juice, water or soft drink. If you’re ‘lucky’ you might find a fruity ‘mocktail’ loaded with sugar and a token mint leaf. That’s usually about it.
In the past my experience of not drinking at an event or venue meant NO FUN!
So, after deciding to be alcohol-free, I was determined to find a way of socialising that was enjoyable.
In November 2019 I made my first call to a restaurant in Noosa ( full story here). They had no alcohol-free drinks that I liked, and they said no to my BYO request…at first.
Since then I have developed a few tactics for getting an easy yes that I’ll share with you here.
If you’re comfortable with the phone I suggest this as your go-to. It’s easier to reach the right person, and harder to say no to a voice rather than an email.
Check the menu. Many have a non-alc section that they will reference on the call,. You need to be sure there’s nothing on there that you would be happy with.
Call and ask to speak to the Manager with a special request. If they are not free do your best with the person you get on the phone.
You – I’m looking forward to coming to your venue on ‘insert date/time’ however I don’t drink alcohol and I can’t find any alternatives that I like on the menu. I would be really grateful if I could bring my own alcohol-free beer/wine, would that be OK?
Them – Sure no problem ( best outcome!)
Them – We don’t do any BYO ( normal response)
You – Yes, I completely understand. As a non-drinker it is still really hard to find places that stock alternatives. I am more than happy to pay corkage because I love having a beer/wine with my meal, I just don’t like it to have alcohol. I’m not a fan of water, juice or mocktails so I’d be really grateful if you could help me out?
Them – Let me check with the Manager ( if they are not the Manager)
You – Thanks so much, I’d really appreciate it.
From here my experience is they say yes 90% of the time, but they always make it clear it’s not normal policy. You can have a bit of fun here by saying you’ll let them have a taste. Tell them many venues are now stocking AF options and you can’t wait for it to be the norm. End on a note of gratitude. I often tell them my friends are drinkers and will be delighted we can all enjoy the event/meal together.
The friendly email
I’ve had quite a lot of success with this approach. Here’s an email template you can copy. My friend and fellow BYO AF advocate Kate Toon penned this one.
I’d love to book a table for dinner on <INSERT DATE>.
I just wanted check what alcohol-free drinks options you have? ( or follow step one above)
Please could you let me know if you have alcohol free beers, wines or AF cocktails on offer?
(I can see from your website that you offer soft drinks but I’m hoping for something a little more adult.)
Alternatively do you allow BYO alcohol free corkage?
Thanks in advance
By the way if you do offer AF options I’d love to connect you with Sarah Connelly at Tapped In, she has a directory of venues on her website that offer Alcohol free drinks.
The BOLD approach
As time has gone on and I’ve grown tired of calling ahead and emailing I now often turn up with my AF drink in hand. It’s a bit bolshy but I have yet to get a no.
Here’s my pitch
- Find the Manager
- ‘ Hi, I hope you won’t mind but I’m a non-drinker and I love my AF wine ( wave bottle at them). I’ve just grabbed a bottle of my favorite to have with my meal. Would you be Ok to pop it in the fridge? Happy to pay corkage of course’
- Not once had a no. Worst case was $50 corkage after I pointed out that they had a 12 page drink menu with not one AF option on it. It got a bit heated :).
It’s always worth a try. If it’s important to you, and you are going to be spending money at a venue, then I see no reason at all not to ask. After all, you want to have as much fun and enjoyment as possible. If that means having an AF drink you love, then why not ask?
If you do get a hard no then you can choose not to go and seek out a venue that is more progressive. I see change in the air and the more we ask the more venues will start to realise this is a market they can’t afford not to cater for.
Check out the venue guide here for listings of venues in Australia that are doing their best to cater for us and PLEASE let me know if you come across a good one so I can add them in!