Saying No To Alcohol: 16 Ways To Turn Down Booze – Surely
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Here are the best 16 ways to say “no” to alcohol [sans awkwardness]

Here are the best 16 ways to say “no” to alcohol [sans awkwardness]

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If you’ve hit pause on drinking or cutting back on alcohol, it can be awkward to navigate saying no to alcohol. You can certainly make it your mission explore all of the sober activities out there, but at some point, you’ll likely be asked whether you want a drink.

Some people may even ask why you’re not drinking, even in an innocent way. Our best advice is that there is no wrong way to say no to alcohol. Whatever makes you feel the most comfortable is the right way. 

If you’re at a loss, we have some ideas that cover the bases of polite, casual, and creative excuses for any social situation.


1. Be honest.

Peer pressure isn’t cool, and if you’re hanging out with friends or loved ones you trust, you should be able to be honest and upfront with your plans to cut back. That said, if you’re not comfortable talking about your drinking habits, don’t force it.

How do you say no to alcohol without hurting someone's feelings? You can say no to alcohol without hurting someone’s feelings by letting them know that you’re not here to police their own alcohol use.

Just because you’re cutting down on alcohol in your own life doesn’t mean you’ll judge the alcohol consumption of everyone around you. Your friends should understand no matter what your reasons for drinking less or not at all.

2. “I’m the designated driver.”

No one’s going to mess with you after this one. You may even get a pat on the back for being so responsible! 

If you’re fudging the truth here, you can offer a ride to someone who needs it at the end of the night, but don’t feel guilted into doing so if you just want to head home.

3. “No, thanks. I’m good.” 

How do you politely say no to alcohol? You can politely say no to alcohol with a quick “no, thank you.” This quick, polite refusal should suffice in most situations.

You can follow that up with a qualifier like, “I’m taking a little break,” but that may invite more opportunities for drink offers later on in the night. 

4. Drink a mocktail instead.

The inventive mocktails of today are an easy way to replace alcohol and not be so obvious about it. Even if you’re not at a sober bar, most bartenders are ready and willing to whip up something delicious with fizz and flavor.

If you’re at a house party, there’s no shame in bringing your own mixers. A non-alcoholic sparkling Brut is a great base for an alcohol-free but still very classy French 75 mocktail.

5. “I’m on a cleanse.”

Tell anyone who asks that you’re on a wellness journey. You’re trying out a new diet or kicking things into gear with a Dry January, Sober September or Sober October

This one is super easy if you’re actually coming up with excuses in those months, but if anyone can make a Sober April happen, it’s you.


6. “I have an early morning.”

Maybe you have breakfast plans with a family member. Perhaps you’ve signed yourself up for a regular schedule of morning hot yoga. If it’s a weeknight, this one is easy: Your work schedule is packed tomorrow.

Remember, your choice not to down alcohol all night is your choice. Even if you don’t have plans early tomorrow, using an excuse like this can be easier than getting into the details of your sobriety with people you’d just… rather not.

7. Pretend that you’re drinking.

If you missed your calling as an international spy, this one may be right up your alley. You don’t even need to order a non-alcoholic drink from the bar if you don’t want one. “Nurse” that cocktail or offer it to another drinker in the group as a gesture of goodwill.

8. Blame it on the night before.

With friends who tend to drink a lot and may not respect your decision to cut back? Pretend like you’re still hungover from the night before. No one has to know you’ve had some of the best sleep of your life since you started moderating your drinking

(Fun fact: You may think sleep comes easier after a couple drinks, but you’re not getting high-quality sleep after alcohol.)

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9. Brag about your sobriety.

If you’re proud to be sober, tell your friends about it! Share all about the new sober hobbies you’ve picked up since quitting alcohol. Tell your friends about the cool sober celebrities out there. You may find that your pals are more sober curious than you think.

10. Drop hints about it on social media.

You don’t need to become a mocktail influencer to drop subtle hints about the teetotal lifestyle you’re trying. Post photos of yourself with a glass of non-alcoholic sparkling wine or talk about how much fun you had at a dry wedding last weekend. 

OK, you don’t need to be that subtle… but if your friends follow you, they may pick up on your clues and give you a break.

11. Change the subject.

Try a quick “No, thank you,” followed by a question about the new and exciting things going on in that person’s life. Most people love being asked questions about themselves, and they’ll quickly forget all about asking you what you want to drink. 

12. “I’m on medications.”

This may lead to more follow up questions about whatever health conditions you’re dealing with, but that just means you’re dealing with some real busybodies. 

Follow that with an, “It’s not serious. I just can’t drink tonight,” if you’re worried about causing alarm with that new health information.

13. Use body language.

A hand over your glass or a quick shake of the head are easy ways to let people around you know that you’re good, especially if you’re in a loud environment. You can also keep a non-alcoholic beverage handy and point to that if you’re asked whether you’d like a drink.

Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Brut

Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Brut


Award-winning alcohol-removed bubbly white. Hints of lemon, peach and passion fruit with dry acidity. Better than champagne.TASTING NOTES: The vibrant combination of lemon, peach, and passion fruit create a rich flavor counterbalanced by full acidity creating a delightfully dry profile.FOOD… Read More

14. Go home.

If you’re feeling tired of justifying your choices or in a social setting that’s all about drinking, it may be time to call it a night. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid all social situations that involve alcohol, but it may be time to incorporate activities outside of the corner bar into your routine. 

15. “I don’t drink.”

It’s simple and straightforward. An “I don’t drink” can quickly shut down conversations about whether you’re ready for another. Your business to go alcohol-free is yours alone. If you’re feeling brave, this is a way to let everyone know you’re keeping it sober at the next social event, too.

It’s important to note here that navigating the sober landscape will look a lot different for someone dealing with alcohol abuse or an alcohol addiction. If your reasons for quitting are linked to binge drinking or a substance use disorder, you don’t have to do it alone.

It’s important that you have a support network that understands where you’re at and won’t pressure you to drink at social settings. For help with addiction treatment programs, contact these support providers:

16. Sip on non-alcoholic wine.

Finding alcohol alternatives that you want to share with others is one of those simple ways to say no to alcohol without even trying. If your friends love a good wine night, non-alcoholic wine is a natural place to start.

High-quality non-alcoholic wines taste a lot like conventional wines thanks to a similar wine-making process. You may even convert some friends once they realize that wine hangovers can quickly become a thing of the past if they quit drinking alcohol for dealcoholized wine.

Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Rosé

Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Rosé


Award-winning non-alcoholic California sparkling rosé with crisp, light notes of strawberry, pear & tropical fruits. Rosé all day without the hangover.TASTING NOTES: Flavors of soft strawberry, pear, and tropical fruit notes are balanced with a light acid for a full… Read More

Say YES! to non-alcoholic wine.

You can have a vibrant social life and cut back on alcohol, especially when there are delicious alcohol alternatives out there. Start with Surely non-alcoholic wine, an alcohol-free option that tastes as close as you’re going to get to conventional wine.

Try our non-alcoholic bubbly red for a fruit-forward blend of cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. If you prefer white wine, our non-alcoholic sauvignon blanc is crisp, bright, and a great way to end your day.


  1. Peer pressure and alcohol consumption in adults living in the UK: a systematic qualitative review
  2. Voices of Temporary Sobriety - A Diary Study of an Alcohol-Free Month in Hungary

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