Florida Guide > Dining
Drinking in Florida
The UK and the USA may speak the same language but there are many differences in our terminology, laws and their interpretation, particularly in relation to drinks of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties!
Most importantly the minimum age to be able to purchase alcoholic beverages of any type is 21 and Identification in the form of a passport or driving licence showing age is very often required, even if it is obvious that the purchaser is of age (It can be quite flattering sometimes! ! ) The minimum age to drink alcohol is 21 also, so while you may allow under 21’s to drink if you are at a private villa, if for any reason the sheriff were to be called, this would be an offence. Alcohol must not be consumed on any public property. It Is quite likely that every person who orders an alcoholic drink will have to be seen by a bartender so don’t be surprised if everyone has to go up to the bar and be expected to provide ID if there is any doubt of age.
There is also no tolerated level of drink driving so it is better to designate a driver at the beginning of the day and no previously opened bottles of alcohol are to be kept in the car even if re-sealed – they must be kept in the trunk (boot ). If you are stopped by the police it is likely you will be asked to undergo a breath test even if you have not been drinking and penalties are higher if you refuse.
Spirits such as whisky, gin, vodka and brandy are classed as ‘hard liquor’ and can often only be purchased from special liquor stores. Some supermarkets do have separate liquor departments but not all. Walmart for instance does have a liquor department and often has very good deals on wines and spirits. Alcohol is generally supplied in brown paper bags. It is also worth noting that many bars and restaurants, such as Applebees, offer two for one deals on cocktails, beers, spirits and wines and they will be served to you both at the same time!
Non-alcoholic drinks are no less confusing! What we call lemonade in the UK is called Sprite in the USA. Lemonade is a fresh lemon drink. You may also come across Sierra Mist, which is like Sprite but lemon and lime. If you ask for orange juice you will get fresh orange juice but if you want a fizzy orange drink, you need to ask for orange soda. If your tipple is white wine and soda you are likely to be disappointed because the soda used in Florida is Club Soda – not the same taste at all. Again many restaurants and bars offer special deals on non-alcoholic drinks, the most common being free ‘soda’ refills.
Once you get used to these differences, it really isn’t that different at all and who knows, you may invent a new drink combination!
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