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Why It’s Good to Be the Designated Driver

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Nobody wants to be the designated driver. On the one hand, who cares if nobody wants the job? If a car’s going to be involved in your plans, it’s a job someone has to do, no questions asked, because the answer to “Are you sure you’re okay to drive?” should universally be “No.”

On the other hand, instead of looking at designated status like a burden, see it as an opportunity. Some reasons that’s not a stretch:

You get free food, and bar food isn’t bar food anymore

Paying the designated driver’s food bill is a given. That used to mean cheese sticks and/or a burger, but ever since bars decided they needed to up the quality of their food to restaurant status it could mean anything from sauteed sea scallops with borlotti beans & salsa verde to a burger… garnished with Filipino-style pickled vegetables.

Of course if you’re hanging out in a dive, it could still just mean a classic bar burger and regular old cheese sticks -- but only a madman would turn up his nose at free cheese sticks, and whether it's the Lakewood Landing in Dallas or NYC's J.G. Melon, classic bar burgers are kind of the best meal on the planet.

The “Temperance Menu” has upped its game as well

Plenty of bars around America provide free sodas to designated drivers, which is nice. Nicer are the places that have started crafting their own non-alcoholic beverages, like the Angostura and Vanilla Lactart sodas at Bar Tonique in New Orleans, offered free to those taking a selfless hiatus from harder stuff.

Last year Eater also reported on a revolution in mocktails; bartenders unleashing their imaginations on spirit-free refreshments have produced creations like blackcurrant & beet juice aged in toasted oak (at NYC’s Atera) and the Off The Funking Chain: a mix of jalapeno, lime, honey syrup, passion fruit and grapefruit juice, and ginger beer served at Manhattan Beach’s Love and Salt. So yes, you might not get buzzed, but you definitely won’t be bored.

Even holiday party temperance menus can step up their game

Of course if you're the designated driver at a holiday party, aged beet juice might not be on the menu, but you can still gently suggest that in return for your altruism the host puts out a more interesting nonalcoholic offering than near-beer. One option: Holiday Sparkling Cranberry. It's 2 parts cranberry juice cocktail, 1 part seltzer water, garnished with an orange slice and a small handful of frozen cranberries. Have them batch it up one hour before the party and pre-garnish in the punch bowl, and tell them to make  the ice cubes in a tray with cranberries in the water so they freeze inside the cube.

You will dominate pool, darts, etc

Some medical experts do believe a small amount of alcohol can help relax the muscles, which can be beneficial to success at barroom games. But (and this is another reason anyone who drinks anything should simply not drive) when we say small amount, we mean small amount. One doctor Thrillist talked to said that anything over .02% could be detrimental to your game -- so if your friends finish a beer, whatever advantage they might have gained could be spent.

There might be a prize

The Arizona Cardinals, for instance, enter designated drivers into a contest that holds out the possibility of such grand prize swag as a trip to the Pro Bowl. Which is in Hawaii.

In Ventura, Thousand Oaks, Camarillo and Simi Valley, CA, a gang of youths named "The Prize Posse" roams the streets looking for designated drivers to reward with prizes worth $15-$20, and entry into raffles for pricier loot, like $100 cash, or Sublime tickets. At the annual opening of Maryland's The Tiki Bar, designated drivers have soberly exited the festivities with everything from bluetooth speakers to a 7-day cruise. (The bar is on Solomons Island, so it's unclear how much driving is involved, but still it's the right sentiment.)

There’s an excellent double entendre opportunity

At some point, one of your friends might say they’re okay to drive. You’ll tell them no. They’ll say, “No, no, I’m cool.” You’ll nod your head, smile, and say “You are not cool.” For a second they won’t be sure if you meant cool to drive or cool in general. That is a very pleasurable second.

Phyllis Purdoff

Mrs. Purdoff is 82 years old. She’s been manning the Milwaukee Brewers designated driver booth since 1989, doling out 500 soda coupons a game to qualified individuals (21+, have a parking pass, promise not to drink). People love her. Even if you’re not currently attending a Brewers game (statistically speaking, it’s unlikely), just knowing that you’re karmically making her and people like her happy ought to boost your spiritual well-being score by at least, like, 5 points.

Tomorrow will be great

Not because you’re going to exercise, or run errands, or “get things done.” All those things are fine, but the real reason tomorrow will be great is because you’ll feel fresh enough to eat a giant breakfast, then take a nap, and then roll straight into brunch. You'll be the stuff of legend.

You get your own t-shirt

There are so many great designated driver t-shirts on the internet! Like "Water, Shaken Not Stirred," "Relax, I'm The Designated Driver, I've Got This," and there's even one with a picture of a dog taking the reins of a horse while a cowboy sleeps behind him! 

Okay, maybe don't buy a t-shirt.

You’ll be appreciated

If not by the people you’re with (it’s okay, friends can be terrible at showing appreciation), then by the people who love the people you’re with.

Why did we write this story?

The answer is simple: we don’t want you to drive drunk. But the best way to convince people not to do something is to show them the consequence: by having them experience an alcohol-related crash head-on. Trust us when we say that you may not want to watch the below eye opening, 360° video presented by Johnnie Walker -- but you should watch it anyway, and tell your friends to do the same. If it helps just one person have many more holiday seasons, then it’s worth it.