Save. Spend. Splurge.

The excuses I used to make and still make to get out of drinking socially

As if you need even more of a reason to think I’m odd, I don’t drink.


I don’t like the taste, I don’t like how I feel when I drink and the only ways alcohol will (generally) ever enter my body is:

  • if I have a cut and need to disinfect it
  • if it gets added to food to give flavour
  • if I am obligated to toast someone (with a glass of champagne for instance)
  • if I am curious and just want to taste this particular wine to see if I can tell the difference between other wines I’ve tasted (just a sip, not a gulp)

Otherwise, I refuse all offerings of alcohol, and half a cup is still too much for me to drink.

Lots of people get really uncomfortable when I say I don’t drink. It’s almost as though I am not part of the group, or the “team” if I don’t drink.

Or they think I’m a religious nut who treats her body like a temple and/or I have a personal problem with drinking that I want to start lecturing everyone on.

It’s just something that is foreign to them because.. EVERYONE likes to drink!


It’s even worse when I go to France. 😛

That whole country is full of wine-lovers.

No one can understand why I don’t drink wine, and BF’s cousin makes it his personal mission in good humour, to try coax get me to drink by telling me things like:

You are being awfully rude to the host if you don’t drink at least a bottle by yourself.

He never pushes me but he teases me about it.

In the past, I just made up socially-acceptable excuses like:

  • I am on medication
  • I need to drive
  • I’m allergic

Lately however, I’ve just been saying the truth: I don’t like it. 

It kind of surprises people.

There’s not much else to say to that other than: “Oh.

…but the only difference is now I’m treated like pariah because I’m the oddball who just doesn’t like the way alcohol tastes.

They might also think I’m just an uppity, rude snob.

*shrug* So be it.

I’m actually tired of making up fake medications and reasons.

Sooner or later, a liar always gets caught.

It’s better to be honest about something as banal as not liking alcohol than to lie about it. I don’t want people to think I’m a liar for everything over something as stupid as not wanting to drink.


The only part that could hurt me career-wise, is that clients like to go out and drink. There was a monthly bar hop that happened at a client I was at once, among all the workers, and I’d always decline.

I was pulled aside after a few refusals and told that I was not being a ‘team player’ because I wouldn’t go out to drink until 2 a.m. in the morning, and come in to work red-eyed and hungover.

That rather shocked me at the time because I thought it would be more professional to NOT get a hangover at work the next day, and to be productive to earn my keep.

Or am I wrong?

Anyway I learned my lesson. Turns out, drinking is also a social lubricant.

If you drink, you’re in. If you don’t… you’re on the outs.

Next time I encounter this kind of corporate culture, I’ll go on occasion and order a fake Rum and Coke (just the Coke), and then make up some lie about having to drive home.


  • Alea

    As a young single female stationed at an overseas military base (Japan), it can be extremely awkward being the only one not drinking. I do like to drink, but after a few bad experiences and making an ass of myself a time or two, I’ve toned it down quite a bit. Going out to the local bar row and marathon drinking is more or less a sport.

    Unfortunately, I have actually lost a lot of people I called friends because I stopped drinking and being the party girl. As girl, I think there is a lot more at risk with too much drinking. Recently I got into an argument with a friend about me not drinking and “hanging out,” because I don’t like to be the sober one taking care of obnoxious drunks. I feel like the old person, babysitting. It’s not fun.

    Maybe that’s what makes people uncomfortable? I think Americans at least, see not drinking as a characteristic of a much older person – someone that has gotten their partying out of the way already.

    I still drink every once in a while, and will pop a bottle wine with a friend, but the crazy nights out are waaaay too much.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @Alea: Yes, it’s a “sport” as you have so aptly named it. A sport that everyone partakes in.

      You are absolutely spot on in saying that is what makes people uncomfortable, acting like the old person babysitting a bunch of unruly drunks.

  • SarahN

    I was you back when I studied. After a year in France I learnt to enjoy wines – I think it helped that even house wine there is palatable. I’ve only ever vomited once from drinking and I’m in my late twenties (interestingly it was recently). Definitely felt like the weirdo when I declined offers for drinks – I think I disliked the implied obligation of drinks being bought for me too. However if I’m honest I’m pleased I’m more socially normal now cause it just makes life easier – I’m weird in enough other ways to sometimes get me down!

  • MelD

    The only thing I will drink occasionally to be sociable is a very small glass of champagne (you don’t get onto first name terms with people here unless you drink wine – they hate it if you “have” to drink water, makes them really uncomfortable, as if you wouldn’t be a friend worth calling by their first name if there’s no alc in it!!), and this is very rare for me, a couple of times a year.
    My middle daughter doesn’t like alcohol, either and never touches it (she’s 22). Neither does one of my best friends. So it’s not that rare, I guess! (I also don’t like coffee, which people think is weird…)
    My husband quite likes the taste and has a wine cellar and a whisky collection but they never dwindle because he so rarely drinks any LOL!!
    Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out because I don’t “go out for a drink” or have people over for ine-y dinners or anything. We do offer champagne, wine and digestifs to guests but of course, not drinking ourselves does rather put the brakes on the others… yes, we are not hugely sociable folk ;o
    If I’m out, I’ll have applejuice/mineral water mixed, which looks like white wine, and usually that passes… (or red grape juice!)

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Oh really!? Wow… 😐 Wine is more of a social lubricant than I thought. I know that here it is the same mentality — you have to drink to be a friend because then you can “drink together”…

      I don’t know what it is, perhaps it’s that we can BOTH make asses of ourselves (or at least there’s a chance), but it’s harder if one person is sober?

      I don’t like coffee either.. so maybe it’s just my not liking strong flavours?

  • femmefrugality

    I have a friend who is allergic to alcohol, but I’ve been wondering for a while if it’s just an easy excuse to pass on the drinking. She’s super fun, drink or no.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Some people are legitimately allergic to it, so unless you’ve caught her drinking once in a while or sipping it, she is probably allergic.

      I sip/drink wine to taste but I don’t want to drink it. I only use my allergic excuse around clients.

  • Gen Y

    Hi Mochimac!
    I’ve just discovered this great blog of yours, very entertaining and enlightening reads.
    I’m been lucky that all my friends have been very good about not pressuring anyone to drink, so when we go out I’d usually just go for water or a fruity cocktail (I don’t mind those). Outside my friend cycle, however, I have met people who think just because you don’t drink, you’re too uptight and don’t know how to have fun. It’s so ironic because it says something if you need to drink in order to ‘have fun’.
    Personally I find most people I’ve known in Toronto and Montreal (the only two cities I’ve lived in since reaching drinking age) are not judgmental when it comes to whether I drink or not.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      The culture of needing to drink just to be seen as fun bothers me, because it automatically excludes people who choose not to drink and get smashed with a hangover the next day. Who wants to feel like crap?!? It never made sense to me, thanks for coming by.

  • Clare

    As a sober person because I’m a recovered alcoholic, I’ve taken the route of, “I don’t drink. If it bothers you, your problem.”

  • Brandy

    I almost never drink, mostly for the calorie aspect. No sense in drinking calories when I could eat chocolate instead. LOL

    If it is strangers harassing me, I tell them that I am pregnant. That usually shuts them up. Most of my friends know that I don’t drink a lot so they don’t give me a hard time.

    I was at a party a couple of weeks ago and this guy told me he didn’t like me simply because I wasn’t drinking. I was so flabbergasted, I didn’t know what to say to him. Thanks for sharing?

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      That’s kind of the response I get too: “You aren’t fun if you don’t drink.”

    • Alea

      @Brandy: I was reading recently ( I think on body don’t recall the article), that for an average night out for a male, drinks and dinner, was over 4000 calories in one night. No wonder they call it a beer belly!

  • Tracy

    In a corporate environment where people (especially clients) drink, I think it’s bad to stick out for not drinking. I’m talking about the people who will not touch a drop of it. I always feel like they are so uptight to the point of being suffocating. Why draw attention to yourself when it’s supposed to be an opportunity to get closer with your peers/clients?

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      True, but that’s when I throw out the lie that I’m allergic (partly true, I get a rash all over my body).

      I wouldn’t drink in a corporate environment, or if I did, I’d pretend to take a Rum & Coke (minus the Rum).

      I just don’t like the taste but people feel the need to make me drink so that they feel better.

      I don’t care either way.

  • Leslie Beslie

    This is one of those things that I always hear about, but I never see. I have friends who don’t drink for whatever reason and I’ve never seen someone give them a hard time about it. They still socialize with co-workers, they just don’t drink alcohol. I have never seen anyone directly judged about this. There are definitely nights I don’t feel like drinking and no one bothered me about it.

  • The Asian Pear

    To be honest… Meh. You don’t drink. I don’t see the issue or how that’s weird. Lots of people don’t drink. o___o? I didn’t think drinking was THAT mainstream. (Or maybe I’m weird too.)

    I used to drink more often when I’m younger. Now that I’m a bit older, I’m fine with water usually. Sometimes I might order a cocktail but at best, it’s usually pop or iced tea.

  • Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies

    I’m not a drinker and love the fact that in the US that’s never been something of note or a curiosity. In the UK on the other hand…

    At corporate events where I’m not footing the bill, I’ll happily order a glass of wine to have in front of me and occasionally take a sip. With friends, they know not to expect me to drink and it’s not a big deal.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      At corporate events it is where I lie the most to be socially polite. With friends I don’t drink, and don’t like it (insert raised eyebrows!), and they’re okay with it but think of me as a party pooper for NOT wanting to get plastered and throw up.

  • Tim

    You are not normal…I suggest celebrating that fact!

    FYI – with cooking because of the low boiling point of alcohol almost all of the time you actually have no booze left in the dish when you serve it. If you boil or bake the item the booze is gone.

    I’ve often said if I could drink with out the booze I would be in heaven. I like the taste of many wines, beers, spirits, but I don’t like the change to my body (I get sleepy after two drinks). So I end up being a social drinker.

    Not drinking at all would be a bit more obvious, so I understand the confusion from people. Do what works for’s hard some times, but you will be happier in the long haul.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Haha I just read your post on not being normal too 🙂 Two peas in a pod?

      Yes, in food I know that the booze is pretty much gone, which leaves the flavour and makes me totally fine to drink it.

      What I do enjoy in food is the residual taste because sauces taste better with some red wines in them.

      Oftentimes, I just take a glass to be polite and then end up pouring it into BF’s glass to pretend I drank it.

  • Sense

    I’m with you! If you think France is bad, try socializing in England or a pub-centric country! NZ is pretty intense. I’m surrounded by major drinkers! People here DO count the number of drinks you have, and it IS a contest. I constantly get crap about how slowly I drink.

    I don’t like the taste either. Wine gives me an instant headache, so I just tell people that I’m allergic. I hate beer unless I’ve done a long, hard hike or fieldwork earlier that day (then, somehow, it is acceptable to my palate). I much prefer cider and cocktails. They at least mask the taste of the alcohol with sugar or other mixers! 🙂 Mostly, I hate the feeling I get the next day. 1-2 cocktails or ciders (yum) taste and feel good for a while, but anything more than that, and I’m paying the next day. I respectfully decline most alcohol, but it is definitely helpful to my career to get drinks with coworkers on Fri evening. I just have to suck it up and do it!

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      England was crazy.. I went there to visit a friend and it was like a serious business to be drinking in the pub. I would not have lasted long there in a working environment, I think.

      I just think it’s rather sad that people will feel the need to rib you on drinking MORE, as if MORE is better.

      For me, quality counts over quantity. A ton of bad vodka (think: grain alcohol-quality) will be far worse for your stomach than the good stuff.

  • Ani

    Try doing what my dad used to do. He would order a glass of beer and fake small sips of it through out the gathering and seeing an opportunity will pour some of it in another glass and pass it to a waiter when he went from group to group. The one glass will satisfy the clients as he is taking part in their gathering and drinking.No one cares or counts to see how many glasses you have drunk as long as there is a glass in your hand.
    For family gathering be honest, they will understand.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.


      Perfect. I will definitely do that next time (although I hate the idea of wasting money on a beer to begin with).

      I normally just carry a glass around and pretend I’m drinking. My other trick is to ask for a “Rum and Coke, but hold the Rum”… and I pretend it’s alcohol.

  • matthewchat

    I strongly dislike the taste of coffee – even mocha turns me off. Makes me gag and tastes like burned motor oil. If you think not drinking alcohol is socially damaging, try refusing coffee. Everyone offers me coffee – I have to either decline, or hopefully they have tea.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I too, hate coffee.

      I just tell them the caffeine in there makes me throw up (and it does, it makes me dizzy and I DO throw up from the overstimulation), which inevitably makes them say to me: BUT YOU DRINK TEA!

      “Yeah well tea has less caffeine than coffee”, I normally reply.

      “NO IT DOESN’T! Tea has MORE caffeine than coffee!”

      Then I go into a whole lecture about how tea LEAVES have more caffeine than in a coffee bean, but when you drink actual tea, only a small amount of that caffeine is water-soluble, so unless you eat tea LEAVES, you won’t be taking more caffeine (by a long shot) than in a cup of coffee.

      … and that is why I don’t tell people that coffee makes me sick, I just tell them I’d rather have a tea. 🙂

  • Ming

    I am exactly the same way. I’m curious about wines and beers and will taste them, but I very rarely drink because I hate how it feels and at the end of the day, most alcohol doesn’t taste very good to me. (I have exceptions. a little red wine + italian food, Lindemann’s Lambics – really low alcohol – tastes like delicious juice) Plus my siblings ended up being allergic to alcohol (full body hives etc..) and I’ve just been lucky so far… My work friend crowd is delightful. I used to dislike going to bars to drink with them, but I’ve discovered that no one really questions me and they just accept that I’m probably going to drink seltzer or ginger ale/beer(non alcoholic) and no one bothers me about it. As someone who is only in her third year in the adult working world, I find it funny/odd how many social interactions happen around alcohol for adults….it’s nice to find someone who has a similar view towards alcohol. 😉

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Yep. I like drinking stuff that says “chocolate beer” because I want to see if I can taste any chocolate…

      There are a LOT of social interactions around alcohol as an adult, a fact I found out during college and realized it made people see and react to me differently because of it.

      For me, it’s like not wanting to eat brussel sprouts. I love them, but I’m not going to force someone to eat them if they don’t like it. Alcohol for me, is the same thing.

  • tomatoketchup

    A great beverage for non-drinkers at a bar is soda water with a wedge of lime. It’s quite tasty and looks totally legit 🙂 A lot of bartenders will assume you’re the designated driver and won’t charge you anything either.

  • cj

    Mochimac! What an intriguing post. I love craft beer, just to be up front. But I think it is far more important to be pleasant and fun to be around. It is far more important to have something intelligent to add to a conversation. And although I love to have a few, I do it exclusively on nights when there is no work the next day. Going to work with a hangover is plain stupid. There’s nothing cool about it and it makes the day miserable and interminably long.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      Oh you like those independent beers eh?

      I’ll go there with friends to see how it’s made, and take a sip, but I just don’t like drinking in general.

      I don’t like drinking for the taste, but especially not to get plastered.

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