BETWEEN HARSHER drunken-driving laws and the rise in racquetball tournaments, alcohol has lost some of its allure. People want to feel better and live longer than liquor might allow.
"There's an acute awareness on the part of our patrons," says Shooter McGee's owner Michael Anderson. Instead of ordering three drinks, he says, customers at his bar will order one or two and some food; they're ordering "a little bit more" sodas and waters and, in general, "being more moderate" in alcohol consumption.
It's true. Liquor people say that the overall picture hasn't changed, that people still drink, a lot, especially over the winter holidays. But the tenor has changed. In addition to stricter enforcement of drunken-driving laws, there's the California ethic at work. Runners don't want hangovers to affect their personal best times; racquet sportsmen meet at the courts instead of the bars after work. And anyone worried about his weight knows nightly martinis rack up the pounds.
People are drinking, but since bottled water has made soft drinking both chic and expensive, more people choose the lighter road to bar-hopping. Peter Waldren, general manager of the bar at Bullfeathers, says that 10 years ago a bartender would "throw you through the front door" if you ordered a club soda. "It was the equivalent of ordering a glass of water," he says.
Now, "the sternest of bartenders woundn't even blink if you ordered club soda," he contends, and says the trend is primarily due to Perrier, a water expensive enough to warrant tips for bartenders and swish enough to show drinkers' class.
Having a holiday party without soft alternatives is like lighting a cigarette in the looker room -- definitely declasse. Hosts who lay out trays of raw vegetables instead of Ruffles and onion dip would be delinquent if they didn't fill the bar with nonalcoholic alternatives.
But somehow, soft drinks just don't fire the imagination. No one ever emphasizes the soft bar, so stocking one proves difficult. To counteract the lack of precedent, a list of suggestions follows:
* Make punches ahead, but add club soda and other canbonated drinks to the punch bowl at the last minute.
* Make sure that accessories are accessible. Zest of citrus fruits, chunks of lemon, lime and orange, grenadine and nonalcoholic mixers should be readily available so that mixing a drink isn't a cumbersome ordeal. Offer guests "twists" of lemon or lime with their drinks.
* Provide interesting glasses. Many dieters often prefer to drink club soda and lime out of wine glasses, for instance. Pouring a Coke into jelly glasses doesn't lend the same class. Punches are easy to prepare, but the little glasses with tiny handles are difficult to hold. Consider serving soft mixtures in more practical glasses or mugs.
* Keep mulled teas or ciders hot in electric crockery cookers or in an attractive pot set on a warming tray.
On damp, cold winter nights, offer spicy teas and ciders or fancy coffees as a festive alternative to strong drinks. 1. SANGRIA (6 to 10 servings) 4 Cups red grape juice 2 cups apple cider or cranberry juice Juice of 2 lemons Juice of 1 orange Thin slices oranges and lemous
Combine ingredients in pitcher or punch bowl. Apple juice makes a sweeter drink, cranberry juice a less sweet drink. Multiply recips as needed. 2. GAME POINT (6 servings) 12 ounce-cans frozen grapefruit juice concentrate 2 ripe bananas 2 1/2 cans cold water
Blend concentrate and bananas together. Add water and blend briefly. Pour into pitcher and serve over ice.
From The Non-Drinker's Drink Book 3. THE CAROLER (8 drinks) 4 Cups apple cider 5 cups water 2 cinnamon sticks 4 whole cloves 4 orange pekoe tea bags 2 tablespoons honey, (optional) Juice of one lemon plus lemon for garnish
Heat apple cider. Heat 5 cups of water with cinnamon and cloves. When the water boils, turn off fire, add tea bags and allow to steep several minutes. Combine hot cider, tea, honey if desired and lemon juice. Pour into mugs and garnish with lemon slices. 4. SPRING FEVER (4 servings) 6-ounce can limeade concentrate 2 bananas 8 to 10 ounces water 20 ounces whole frozen strawberries (unsweetened)
Place limeade in blender. Add bananas and blend briefly. Add 1/2 cup water, then add strawberries, a handful at a time, blending well after each addition. Serve in large stemmed glasses. 5. HOLIDAY (3 to 4 servings) 20 ounces club soda 12 to 16 ounces cranberry juice 1 orange
Place a couple of ice cubes in double old-fashioned glasses. Divide club soda among them, and then cranberry juice. Cut thin slices from the center of the orange and float these on the drink. 6. THE JOGGER (3 to 4 drinks) 24 ounces club soda 8 ounces orange juice Lime slices
Place ice cubes in tall glasses. Divide club soda among the glasses and top with orange juice. Garnish with lime slices. Good any time but especially after running. 7. INDULGENCE (6 servings) 4 cups very strong coffee 2 cups hot chocolate 1 cup heavy cream, whipped Ground cinnamon
Combine hot coffee and hot chocolate. Pour into mugs and top with generous amounts of whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon. CALORIE COUNTER BEER AND WINE (TABLE) Light wine(COLUMN)60(COLUMN)4 oz. Dry white wine(COLUMN)80(COLUMN)4 oz. Dry red wine(COLUMN)85(COLUMN)4 oz. Light beer, avg.(COLUMN)97(COLUMN)12 oz. Beer, avg.(COLUMN)149(COLUMN)12 oz. LIQUOR (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey) 80 proof(COLUMN)97(COLUMN)1.5 oz. 86 proof(COLUMN)105(COLUMN)1.5 oz. 90 proof(COLUMN)110(COLUMN)1.5 oz. 94 proof(COLUMN)116(COLUMN)1.5 oz. 100 proof(COLUMN)124(COLUMN)1.5 oz. MIXED DRINKS * Bloody Mary(COLUMN)125(COLUMN)5 oz. Martini(COLUMN)130(COLUMN)2 1/4 oz. Manhattan(COLUMN)140(COLUMN)2 1/4 oz. Whiskey Sour(COLUMN)160(COLUMN)2 1/4 oz. Old Fashioned(COLUMN)160(COLUMN)2 1/4 oz. Tom Collins(COLUMN)175(COLUMN)8 oz. Gin and Tonic(COLUMN)195(COLUMN)8 oz. Rum and Coke(COLUMN)210(COLUMN)8 oz. Screwdriver(COLUMN)230(COLUMN)8 oz.(END TABLE) (FOOTNOTE)
* Figures calculated using 86 proof liquor.(END FOOT)
Reprinted from Nutrltion Action; based on recipes in Mr. Boston Deluxe Official Bartender's Gulde
(Warner Books, N.Y.) 1981.