Friday, 20 November 2009

Ostentatious non-drinking

A growing phenomenon nowadays is that of the “ostentatious non-drinker” who, in a public setting, makes a point of ordering soft drinks and being seen to do so, hoping to make those degenerates who do have a glass of beer or wine feel vaguely guilty. However, very often he or she is someone who is known to like jugging it back in private.

This can’t do anything to help the pub trade, and I’m convinced a major factor behind it – and the overall movement away from pub to at-home drinking – is the ever-increasing official demonisation of alcohol.

People may not be drinking less in total, but they are much more reluctant to let their image slip by being seen drinking in public, so they compensate by doing it at home where there is nobody around apart maybe from family members to disapprove. Drinking should be a sociable activity, but making people feel bad about it only serves to encourage furtive, solitary tippling.


  1. As a teetotaller, I would have more sympathy with your argument, if I were not being robbed blind by pubs pricing of soft drinks. A pint of diet coke costs well in excess of £2 in a pub (and comes with half a glass of ice if you don't request 'no ice'), and it often comes poured from a 2 litre bottle that can be bought in a supermarket for £1. The cost of the syrup based systems is even lower. The profit margin on soft drinks must vastly outweigh that on beer.

    I notice that Wetherspoons now sell more soft drinks and coffee than beer, and it doesn't seem to be harming their profits either.

  2. Remember that pubs have to cover their overheads so inevitably will charge more for drinks than they cost at Tescos.

    And pricing is based on what people are willing to pay, not on some notion of a "fair" markup.

    Are licensees growing fat on profits from soft drinks? I don't think so. And should they charge even more for beer so they can sell Coke cheaper to appease the politically correct?

  3. of course pubs should charge a lot for soft drinks, but i do object when it's that revolting syrup stuff, which usually comes out flat.

  4. I certainly don't feel bad about drinking in public - or at home for that matter!!

  5. Soft drinks? I've seen people ordering pints of plain water. And not just once.

  6. Genuine question - what is the mark up on lager say? When I order a pint of diet coke for myself and a pint of Fosters for my friend, which makes the landlord the most profit?

  7. Too true and one of the reasons we have seen the decline of great British institutions like the swift lunchtime pint. But at least they are still enjoying the conviviality of the pub. And to be honest with all the scaremongering about alcohol in the press its not a surprise that some people are less then glad about being branded a 'drinker'.

  8. Martin, Cambridge21 November 2009 at 11:47

    Don't know about your work/drink policy PC, but inm my job a pint at lunchtime would lead to an official warning at least !

  9. No wonder things are bad when in a beer blog, a poll of readers shows nearly a quarter haven't been in a pub in the last month.

    That's eye popping.

  10. It must be all the stay-at-home smokers :p

  11. Actually, on the poll, there are rather more lunchtime and especially before-noon drinkers than I would have expected.

  12. Surely it's an Englishman's right to be able to go for a pint at lunchtime. Bugger all this 'elf n' safety nonsense!
    It's not something I do everyday (mainly for financial reasons), but there's no problem where I work about nippimg out for a pint!

  13. "Blogger Curmudgeon said...

    It must be all the stay-at-home smokers :p"

    For many smokers, pubs no longer or barely exist. Can of course talk only about my own personal experiences but have no doubt many others doing what I am and most people in my circle of friends doing.
    More and larger parties at home or friends place.
    Things like Our weekly tennis games use to end with a few beers at a bar, now ends with beers served at home or one of the other players home.
    Automatic things which use happen at pubs are replaced.
    Also have impact on nonsmoking people We have contact with.
    For example: sometimes I was the only smoker in the small group of Us who play tennis.
    Another time an annual get together event by the company turned into a picnic in a park and the manager was pleased with the amount of money saved. The suggestion came from a smoker after some discussion in Our outside smoke shelter.
    A friend told me about their award presentation event was originally switched from a pub to the board room in His place of employment.
    The sales manager, who is His brother propose it because He didn't want to step outside for a smoke. Received a $50 bonus for His money saving suggestion.
    Find this blog interesting even though I am from Canada.
    The internet does make Our planet appear so much smaller.



Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval. See here for details of my comment policy.