Ways to Toast for Teetotaling Hosts
Updated: Aug 4
The holidays are upon us! We've waited all year, and they are finally here. I cannot express how gleeful I am. Rachel and I spent our Friday date night wandering around Philadelphia's Christmas Market, we'll be getting our tree next weekend, and last night my high school friends and I had our annual boozey-cookie making party. Everything is awesome.
As Christmas approaches like an adorable fuzzy forest creature that you desperately want to cuddle, you might start stressing about the finer details of the holiday. What is going on your wish list? Where are you going to get your advent calendar? When should you order the reindeer meat that you are eating this year? Holidays are fun, but certainly not without big life questions such as these.
A few weeks ago, Rachel and I were hanging out with our friends Holly and Dave (of Spifftacular and Munson's City). This was soon after the election, and we were getting together partly to drown our troubled thoughts in the emotional quicksand that is hot chocolate. We were going to get messed up on cocoa. Holly and Munson are LDS and don't drink booze, but in the sweetest email I've ever received, Holly said, "I have searched in vain on Emily Post's website to find etiquette and ideas re. a teetotaler hostess serving drinking guests."
Where Emily Post fails, Queer Martha picks up the slack!
It's a great question - especially as holiday hosting swings into full gear. I've done some research with fellow boozers, and we've compiled a list of the most effective ways for non-drinking host/esses to throw a swanky party for their drinking and non-drinking friends alike.
Queer Martha's Ways to Toast for Teetotaling Hosts
1.) Classic mocktail with options
If you want to impress your guests with your classy bartending skills and watch them ogle at your bicep pumping in the air as you brandish the cocktail shaker that they didn't expect you to own - this is the option for you.
Choose one signature cocktail for each season. Memorize that cocktail recipe. As soon as December rolls around, go out and buy all the ingredients you need for a Winter's Revival, for example. The key here is to choose cocktails that are as delicious without booze as they are with. We won't be serving a martini, but we can serve a Rubies and Thorns.
This option allows you to only have four or fewer bottles of booze in your house. It also allows you to become an expert at your signature cocktails even though you won't be able to test them. Finally, because you are mixing one drink at a time, you can prepare yourself the same drink as your guests, but without the strong beverage.
2.) There is no shame in a BYOB
This option is similar to option 1 - you can still do fancy mixing and impress your guests with your bartending skills. The difference here is that you can tell your guests what cocktail you are making, then encourage your drinking guests to bring their own booze and dose their own drink. It is pretty typical to bring booze as a hostess gift when the hosts are known to drink alcohol, so few people will find this too onerous a request.
The pro of this option is that you won't have leftover alcohol in your otherwise dry home (perhaps especially important for people who are only temporarily not drinking due to pregnancy or diets - there is no temptation left after the party).
The con is that your guests, left to their own dosing devices, might get weirdly drunk. This might happen anyway, though.
3.) Just serve wine (and/or beer)
If the thought of picking up bartending skills is daunting (it is for many drinking people, too), this might be your option. Forego the cocktail shaker altogether and just present your guests with a bottle of wine and/or a selection of beer. Wine is always classy, and beer is always fun. Go to your local wine store, tell the workers what you are cooking, and allow them to suggest accompanying beverages.
Worried that you won't choose the right bottle? The fact of the matter is that most drinking people have absolutely no idea what they are drinking. Just tell them that the wine has notes of cherry and chocolate with undertones of worn leather and the microbrew in the cooler was made with local barley and everyone will be very, very impressed.
4.) Everybody loves wee bottles of booze
There is no reason that you should have a full bar in your non-drinking household. If you don't want to stock up on big bottles of alcohol and you feel uncomfortable asking your guests to bring their own booze, this option might work for you.
Head to the liquor store and stock up on wee bottles of various liquors. These wee bottles - which you can often find near the register - run about $2 each. They are adorable, and everyone loves them. Put your collection of wee bottles in a pretty basket next to the non-alcoholic mixers you bought for your party. If you want to get really twee, you can even tie ribbons around the necks of the wee bottles to make them look even more festive and adorable. You guests will be delighted to see a basket of booze with which they can mix their own drinks.
I'm serious - everyone loves wee bottles of booze, and people will think you are the shit for enabling them to experience the joy that is week booze bottles.
5.) Simply tell your guests that there is alcohol in their non-alcoholic drink
Then watch as your guests get "drunk." I'm serious! If you make a cocktail with interesting flavors, people will have absolutely no idea that there is no alcohol in their glass, and they will proceed to start acting drunk as they drink more of your booze-less concoction. Multiple drinking people have confirmed this phenomenon exists. It works reverse, too. The other day I mixed up my virgin mimosa with my friend's full-of-champagne mimosa and did not notice until my friend called me out. The drink was half gone.
Try it out! Make a big punch in a beautiful punch bowl. Label it "Fish House Punch: Cognac, Peach Liquor, and Rum." Don't tell anyone you have actually used sparkling apple cider, peach shrub, and lemon simple syrup. Watch how your power of suggestion is more potent than the potables.
They will thank you the next day when they don't have a hangover.
6.) Look the part
The last tip is this: if you are going to go to the trouble of learning how to entertain your booze hound friends, invest in a cool cocktail shaker. You might not know what you are doing, but dammit you are going to look good doing it. Buy a cool retro shaker from an antique shop. Get this weird pineapple one. Get this super legit Boston Shaker set to look like a pro.
Most importantly - you are never obligated to have booze at your party. If your drinking friends are actually unable to have fun at a dry party, that says more about their drinking problem than your hosting skills.
Happy hosting, and let the holidays begin!!