The reception at the Old Executive Office Building wasn't like most Washington cocktail hours. After all, when the National Commission Against Drunk Driving gets together with over 150 members of insurance companies, restaurant associations, beverage companies and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "mocktails," not cocktails, become the appropriate offering.

The reception Dec. 11 was a kickoff for Great Alternatives, a new Washington organization formed to educate social and commercial hosts on how to prevent drunk driving. The group is not against consumption of alcoholic beverages nor does not believe that legal reform is the way to curb the problem; according to Great Alternatives director Carol Markowitz, its goal is to change social behavior surrounding drinking.

Wearing "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk" buttons, guests washed down happy-hour tidbits such as pork brochettes and salami with no-alcohol beers, wines and punches. The food, provided by five Washington restaurant/bars, was designed to show how high-protein, high-fat hors d'ouevres can be served to slow the absorption of alcohol and lessen the degree of intoxication.

Some tips for holiday entertaining from Great Alternatives:

* Suggest driving alternatives for guests in advance of the party.

* "Sell" non-alcoholic wines, beers and champagnes to driving guests by mentioning their lower calorie advantages over alcohol.

* Think of games, entertainment or "themes" instead of overemphasizing alcohol as the only fun thing to do at a party.

To forget the alcohol and fatty hors d'ouevres altogether, serve the following cold weather "mocktail" instead: HOT FRUITED CIDER (6 servings) 1 quart apple cider 1 cup orange juice 1 cup pineapple juice 1 teaspoon whole allspice 1 teaspoon whole cloves 2 2-inch cinnamon sticks Cinnamon sticks or orange slices for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer 10-to-15 minutes. Strain. Serve in mugs garnished with a cinnamon stick or orange slice.

From "Non-Alcoholic Drinks for Driving: Recipes & Tips for Responsible Hosts"