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Spanish tapas/pinxtos bars -- what should a sober alcoholic order?

My traveling companion for our trip around Spain and Portugal in May/June no longer drinks. I enjoy a glass of wine/cider or two. When we go into tapas/pinxtos bars, I'll just order that, but what might my partner's typical options be? If the order is for something non-alcoholic (say, Pelligrino or the local equivalent, or coffee, or a soft dink, or something else that's available) will that make the bar owner unhappy? Or should my partner order wine, too, then just pass it on to me to drink? We hate to pass up the fun of tapas/pinxtos bars, but if it's an atmosphere that's awkward for non-drinkers, we'll have to rethink our plans. Thanks!

Posted by
339 posts

I was in Barcelona and Madrid in June 2013 and had no problems (from unhappy bar owners) ordering non-alcoholic beverages (mostly sparkling water). You should not expect any awkward atmosphere for not ordering alcoholic drinks.

Posted by
9363 posts

Honestly, no one cares if a drink has alcohol or not. You will find lots of other options available.

Posted by
1178 posts

Order whatever he wants and stay as long as he wants....never any problem in all of my visits....they are most hospitable...a change from the eat, drink and leave in a hurry so someone else can get the spot attitude in the states...the bar is a place of socializing long socializing..

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks, everyone -- that will help put my travel partner at ease, as we plan to check out a lot of tapas/pinxto bars!

Posted by
15035 posts

I was even told that when you need a toilet in Spain, go into a cafe or bar and order the cheapest drink available for a euro or two. Then you are entitled to use the always-clean toilets on the premises. (and it always worked for me) The public ones, so I was told, are harder to find, cost almost as much, and are not nearly as clean or well-appointed.

Posted by
1178 posts

The restrooms will be located either up the stairs or down the stairs in most places...sometimes you even walk behind the bar to get to it. And, if your go on and the light is on, be sure to see the location of the switch....I am sure it will go off while you are there and you will be wondering what happened.,...the lights are on a timer, just as it many halls of hotels...they conserve energy!! I had a friend who went in the restroom and did not come out for a very long period of time. When he finally did, it was with a smile on his face....the light had gone off and he did not know how to find it to turn it on!!!!

Posted by
9363 posts

Hehe. I have been the victim of several bathroom blackouts myself. It is a little disconcerting, to be sure. At one place in Leon, I had to have a woman working at the bar come in with me in the first place to show me how to turn the light ON. It had some sort of odd operating mechanism, so I watched carefully how she did it, just in case.

Posted by
55 posts

When visiting Spain a few years ago with my then 16 year old son, we stopped at a bar and ordered a Coke and a wine. The Coke was more expensive than the wine. I don't think it matters what you order when you go. Enjoy!

Posted by
224 posts

Ha ha! Absolutely the Coke will be more expensive than the wine. That's why I love Spain! But seriously, no one will care one iota whether you order an alcoholic drink or not. All they care about is that you're ordering something, which gives you the right to sit at the table as long as you like.