12/30/2013 04:46 pm ET Updated Feb 17, 2014

Maria's Virgin Martini

As some of you may know or remember, I don't drink alcohol. I haven't for a good 15 years. I can honestly say I don't miss it. However, every once in a while I have the kind of day where at the end of it I think, "I could use a drink." Sometimes it's a bad kind of day, and sometimes it's the kind of day when a celebration is order. Either way, it's a kind of day when the old "sparkling water with a lime" just doesn't cut it.

This summer, I was at my favorite local restaurant, Bolete, after one of the bad kind of days. It was hotter than hell outside, and I said to myself, "If I still drank, this would be a martini kind of night." That's when it hit me: I can capture the best things about a martini without the vodka or the hangover. So I asked the bartender to bring me a "sparkling water, on the rocks, with some green olives." And voilà, the Virgin Martini was born. It hit the spot, and it had the added value of giving me some good low-fat green olives to tide over my hunger until the first course arrived.

A recent winter's night was the celebratory kind, the dinner after our last board meeting of the year. It's been a great year. An amazing year, actually. But it's been exhausting and filled with hard work, the kind of hard work that either makes you stronger or kills you--the kind of hard work that, frankly, I wouldn't be able to sustain if I drank alcohol. And so, I ordered my Virgin Martini. A fellow board member thought it was a great idea and explained what a "dirty" martini was, since I gave up drinking long before I learned all that stuff (it's made with some of the olive juice poured in it). So next time, I'll order a Dirty Virgin Martini...doesn't that just sound like so much fun? Especially since I know I can even have two or three and not wake up the next day with a headache! Or worry about driving home. Or worry about what I said that I shouldn't have.

Ahhhh, I just love being sober!

For more from Maria Rodale, visit