Q: I am allergic to alcohol and don't drink. How do I gracefully turn down offers for drinks? A: Remember this: A person never has to apologize...

Share story

Q: I am allergic to alcohol and don’t drink. How do I gracefully turn down offers for drinks?

A: Remember this: A person never has to apologize for not drinking alcohol. Ever.

Nor does anyone have to explain why he’s not drinking. Ever.

All you have to say is, “I’m not having wine/beer/liquor today. Please go ahead and enjoy whatever you want. I’m perfectly happy.”

This statement, using the word “today,” removes any judgment about the consumption of alcohol. That puts your companions at ease.

Be authoritative about your order, especially if you don’t drink alcohol. Mention your beverage of choice by name. “I’ll have a San Pellegrino with a twist” sounds more savvy than muttering, “Just a glass of water, please.”

Don’t allow even the slightest tone of apology in your voice, and keep a lid on sophomoric comments.

Handling offers of alcohol in this manner sets a good and welcome example for many people who have the same quandary.

Mary Mitchell is a Seattle-based corporate trainer and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Etiquette.” E-mail questions to Mary@themitchell.org. Sorry, no personal replies.