Not drinking alcohol is tough, particularly in a place like St Andrews. A popular urban myth states that we have more pubs per person than anywhere else in the UK, and we all know how much students love a drink. Whether you’re giving up the sauce for good or you’re just preparing for Sober October, it can be intimidating to go on a night out when you’re sipping Sprite and all your friends are drinking: so what are the best pubs to go to when you don’t drink?
For this article I visited six of the most popular pubs in St Andrews to see how they cater to non-drinkers. I obviously couldn’t hit every one of our thirty pubs, but I’m hoping this list help myteetotal brethren find a good meeting place.
Ah Aikmans, the home of Shinty, shouting and the tackiest graffiti in the town… It’s on the cheaper end of the spectrum. They have the standard post-mix fizzy drinks available for around £2 a pint, and a decent selection of bottled soft drinks. You’re not going to find any particularly interesting choices but it’s a solid meeting spot with good staff and a great atmosphere.
- Whey Pat
If you’re a fan of generic Greene King pubs, you’re in luck because the Whey Pat looks like all of them! A nice little pub tucked away just past the end of South Street, the beer is good and the nachos are legendary. Unfortunately, for non-drinkers, the Whey Pat is something of a disappointment. They stock a couple of overpriced non-alcoholic beers and alcohol-free Kopparberg cider. They have the standard post-mix fountain drinks for £2.25 so you’re not going to be short of options, however it’s maybe not the best place for a teetotal night out.
It nearly broke my heart to return to BrewCo, the place that had once been my favourite pub as a beer drinker. I’m sorry to say that this charming place doesn’t cater for sober people at all. Miniature bottles (less than half a pint) of soft drinks are £1.50. Scaled up, this amounts to around £3.30 for a pint of coke, which is more than beer in most of the other pubs mentioned on this list. They do sell some fancy non-alcoholic beers if that’s in your interest, but they’re also quite steeply priced at around £3 per bottle.
On the other hand, nobody goes to Brewco for a cheap night out, they go for the atmosphere, and the events. Despite the range of drinks, it’s still a lovely little place, and the best first-date spot in St Andrews (in my opinion).
- The Rule
The Rule’s selection of non-alcoholic drinks is on the expensive side. Coke and other standard soft drinks are available for £2.75 (more than a pint of Carling) but they also stock a selection of Fentiman’s bottles for £2.45. The bottles are fairly cheap for what they are given it’s a top shelf brand, and great for if you still want to treat yourself with a nice drink while still staying sober. As a bar, The Rule is pleasant enough: cozy booths, decent food and a beer garden out back. At night, the music is usually a bit too loud for comfortable conversation but during the day, it’s one of my favourite meeting spots.
- The Keys
Yeah… we didn’t go to the Keys, we’re not mental.
- The Adamson
If you find yourself in the Adamson, they do a very small range of mocktails which are delicious and surprisingly reasonably priced. When I was last there, I had an Orange and Passionfruit Smash. At the time this was over four pounds which I thought was unacceptably expensive since some cocktails retail for as little as £5, but they’ve since reduced the price to £2.25. It’s still not the most cost-effective place to visit, but if your friends are ordering fancy cocktails, it’s always nice to be able to visit somewhere where you can join in with an equally classy drink.
- The Union
Unsurprisingly, the Union is the cheapest place on this list. Non-alcoholic drinks range from £1.80 for J20s, to £1.60 for most fizzy drinks, all the way down to cordial for just 20p. The selection of drinks is basic but cost-effective and Beacon is much the same, a small, cheap and cheerful collection of mocktails. You know what you’re getting with the union: as a night out that’s nothing special, but it’s reliable, fun and has a better selection of non-alcoholic drinks than most places around.
So now you’re somewhat more ready to venture into the somewhat intimidating world of non-drinking… Even if it’s just for one night.