For people who don't imbibe, there are boozeless alternatives that can add an air of festivity to any holiday party.
Bars, hotels and restaurants are increasingly luring teetotallers with liquorless libations such as non-alcoholic beers and wines, sparkling ciders and virgin cocktails.
Throwing a home party this Christmas season can mean putting the rum and brandy beside the punch bowl instead of in it.
The American Automobile Assn, named last week National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Week and in Boise, Ida. The state auto association kicked off with a "Great Pretenders Mocktail Mix-off" with 22 bartenders creating original non-alcoholic drinks.
Idaho AAA spokesman Grant Jones said the mix-off "provides a fun way to convey a serious message," including the fact that alcohol is a factor in 55% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in the United States.
'Potential for Tragedy'
"With so many holiday gatherings, a greater potential for tragedy involving drunk drivers exists," Jones said, adding that six other states had similar boozeless "mix-off" contests.
In a party guide, the automobile association suggests always serving food with alcohol; pour drinks using one-ounce measuring jiggers; use a noncarbonated base in alcohol punches; stop serving alcohol when the party still has two hours to go, and serve interesting non-alcoholic drinks.
Part of the trend toward drinking less or abstaining altogether is the result of a vigorous national anti-alcohol campaign by such groups as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Responding to pressures, 40 states have increased the penalty for drunk driving in the last three years and 30 states have tightened their drunk-driving laws. In New York, the drinking age was recently raised from 18 to 21 after a campaign staged by MADD.
The California Highway Patrol has again set up random "sobriety check points" and some counties are initiating free taxicab service to people in bars who have had a few too many.
The popular No Name Bar in Sausalito, Calif., held an alcohol-free New Year's Eve celebration last year and plans to repeat its boozeless bacchanalia this season. One of the big hits was liquorless Irish Coffee, but the shelves were also full of Neptune's Sodas, Moussy Beer and Apple Cider.
"It was a real success, the bar was packed," said Tisha Thompson, one of the owners. "We plan on doing it again this year. It's a way for people to come out and have fun without having to worry."
At the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, Calif., bartender Nathalie Whisman has come up with a non-spirited medly of hot ciders and bogus bubblies for her non-imbibing customers.
"People were getting bored with just ordering Perrier," she said. "I came up with some recipes that have a little more appeal and zing than a sparkling water, but still have no alcoholic kick."
Largest Office Party
At the second annual "World's Largest Office Party" at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco on Dec. 19, non-alcoholic beverage bars were lavishly displayed amid the conventional hard grog counters.
"People are drinking lighter these days," said hotel publicist Susan Wilson. She said hotel visitors are increasingly requesting alcohol-free beverages.
For "soft fun," Donald Schultz of Catering Etc., in San Francisco suggests spiking fruit punch with ginger ale, non-alcoholic wine or strong tea.
"Just because your guests aren't drinking (alcohol) doesn't mean they can't have fun with what they do drink and you can't have fun serving it," he said. "If you're planning on serving sparkling cider, make it an imported French cider and serve it chilled in your best crystal."
Here are some offbeat recipes for making tasty but boozeless holiday drinks:
SHAM CHAMP Place one cocktail sugar cube in bottom of Champagne flute.
Shake on a dash or two of bitters.
Fill the glass full with sparkling cider, complete filling the glass with sparkling water (use a water low in sodium if possible, as the salty taste is not desirable.)
HOT SPICED CIDER One gallon sparkling cider.
Three cinnamon sticks broken into large pieces.
One nutmeg pod split into two pieces.
Half to one tsp. ground ginger.
Mix well and heat to boiling, then lower heat and hold just below simmer. To garnish each drink, cut thin orange peel twists, stick a clove in center of twist and float on top.
KIR CHAMP Place about 1/2 tsp. cassis or raspberry syrup into bottom of Champagne flute. Fill with sparkling water and add a twist of lemon.
For an international variation, fill champagne flute about full with Italian syrup, fill to within one inch of top with soda, then float heavy cream on top and garnish with fruit.
L'AIR De CHAMPAGNE Two-thirds cup sugar.
Two-thirds cup water.
One cup grapefruit juice.
One half cup orange juice.
Three tbs. grenadine syrup.
One bottle ginger ale (28 oz).
Mix sugar and water in saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Boil for 8 minutes. Cool. Add sugar syrup to juices. Chill. Before serving add grenadine and ginger ale. Makes 1 1/2 qts. Serve alone or as base for non-alcoholic punch.
MINT TULIP (Serves 10)
Discard stems and injured leaves of 1 bunch fresh mint.
Cover perfect leaves with 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup water, 1 cup lemon juice.
Let stand 30 minutes. Pour over ice in a large pitcher. Add 3 pints ginger ale.