How survive Dry July in every social situation

A selection of Phil Gandevia's brilliant non-alcoholic pairings at Bentley, Sydney.
A selection of Phil Gandevia's brilliant non-alcoholic pairings at Bentley, Sydney. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Don't listen to the bells of the booze wagon chiming just over the hill: 'Come aboard! Join us! We have Malibu!'

Here's a bunch of tips to get you through the tricky, sticky waters ahead.

The Pub

The Unicorn, Paddington.

The Unicorn pub in Sydney's Paddington. Photo: James Alcock

A difficult place to navigate sober, but not impossible. Drink diversity is key. You don't want to down Coke all night because it's bad for your teeth and you'll get bored. One Coke is fine, then shift gears to a lemon lime and bitters followed by Italian soda mixers. Santa Vittoria chinotto for the win. A word of advice on drinking lemon lime and bitters during Dry July: there will always be a wonk to tell you bitters contain alcohol and you're breaking your sobriety vows. This person will likely be wearing a Jays Jays fedora and they deserve a slap. Yes, some bitters contain alcohol, but a drop of Angostura is fine. Just don't shot the stuff.

The Bowling Club

Bedford Bowling Club, Western Australia.

Bedford Bowling Club, Western Australia. Photo: Aleisha Orr

The local bowlo is your moment of zen on a Saturday afternoon when you can nurse a pony of mid-strength and reflect on life, love and whether it's a good idea to buy a washing machine from Aldi. This reverie can't be achieved with Fanta or water. Avoid.

The house party

Any non-alcoholic drink goes, really. Except kombucha. If you rock up to a house party with kombucha, everyone will judge you as a grade-A terry and they'd be right. Also, those booze-free Coopers they sell at Coles and serve at strip clubs. You shouldn't drink those either, but only because they're gross. Best bet is Bundaberg ginger beer. Peel the label off and pretend it's VB.

The bar

Shirt loads of bars have non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails that are actually delicious. Frog-in-a-blender mocktails of the late nineties are an endangered species and the bar is actually one of the easiest places to remain sober and have a nice time. Drivers be warned: leave at least an hour before lockout, otherwise risk giving lifts to every friend-of-a-friend in the joint. Being at a bar with shickered mates is tolerable. Driving a car full of them is not.

The wedding

Yeah, OK. You're in a bind here, sunshine. I'm sorry. Do you have someone who can sponsor you a Golden Ticket for a day on the sauce? Now is the time to use it. If you're still determined to get through the day bone-dry, I'd be wanting to spend as much time with Great Aunt Doris as possible and request the Special Edition version of the time she went to Goondiwindi and met Aussie Joe Bugner in a cafe but it turned out it wasn't Aussie Joe, it was a rissole. She will be the most sane person in the room. The difference between a drunk adult and sober child at a wedding is negligible.


The restaurant

Momofuku's juice pairings.

Momofuku Seiobo's juice pairings. Photo: Edwina Pickles

A fair few high-end, tasting-menu-only joints offer juice pairings as an alternative to wine matching. We're talking fermented apple juice with juniper oil, by the way, not a Passio Nectar popper (although that would be pretty great). If fancy juice isn't an option, tea is your friend. Hot drinks should pair better with hot food anyway, right? I assume yum cha is an excellent option for when you're off the cans, but I've never ordered chicken feet from a trolley and not been hungover six ways from Sunday.

The Sunday barbecue

This is an easy one. Sure they can get messy, but afternoon backyard barbies are usually a somewhat sober, no-more-than-a-six-pack affair and you won't feel too left out as a teetotaller. Maggie Beer has a non-alcoholic sparkling cabernet that suits sausages and warm sun and it's what you should be drinking. Keep a few bottles in the fridge all year round to confuse your drunk future self it's actual wine when getting in from the pub at 3am and frothing for a belter.

The music festival

Cask wine - not the classiest of choices but a great Australian tradition.

An Aussie rock classic. Photo: Paul Rovere

Heading to Splendour in the Grass and camping with mates? Ee gads. This initially sounds worse than the wedding as a scenario for not drinking, but you'll be fine. Just stick to the waters and have a dance. Everyone will think you're on the ol' Persian rugs, but no matter. Think about the smugness that will drip from every pore when the weekend's over. Especially when your friends are trying to keep a sausage McMuffin down and you're stopping to buy honesty-box fruit on the roadside. Probably bring earplugs for sleeping though.