How to shoot your shot without taking shots

From bubble tea to coffee, here are some non-alcoholic ways to quench your literal — or metaphorical — thirst.


Kevin Wu

Make drinks your love language. (Photoillustration by Kevin Wu)

Shay Jones, Deputy Copy Chief

It’s the day after Valentine’s Day, and while you could easily raid CVS for 50% off heart candies, there are better things to do to your stomach. You could eat some vegetables for once or go on a walk, but if the red heart decorations and your class crush are lingering in your mind, perhaps there is still time to consider how you can make an impression.

The good old adage of “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is true for most, but eating out takes time, money and, for me, a bit of a connection. Grabbing a drink is typically going to be simpler. Who doesn’t like a latte or a soda or fizzy water to sip on during their lecture?

This list is friendly to those under 21 and to those who don’t drink and need some variety. Every drink is one I’ve shared with my own partner, and the order is significant to our relationship’s progression as well. Think of it as a way to show you are paying attention. Even if there’s nobody you want to get a drink for, consider getting something for yourself.

Cereal Injeolmi Latte

A tan plastic cup with a black straw against a pink gradient background. There is a white circular sticker on the middle of the cup. The design on the sticker is a purple and white striped straw with a white cat laying in between two pairs of cherries.
Ordering bubble tea can be a bonding experience for you and your crush. (Photoillustration by Kevin Wu)

Bubble tea was our first real social outing together — the one that led to them meeting my roommates. Today, the Cereal Injeolmi Latte, a creamy, slightly grainy, cereal-milk tasting drink found at Lazy Sundaes, is something we commonly split. Also, if Lazy Sundaes still has its seasonal Raspberry White Chocolate Latte — and your stomach can handle rich drinks — I really recommend that as well.

The type of tea your date gets — and how they choose to order it — will tell you a lot about them. Do they have a staple drink? Do they try new things each time? Do they avoid caffeine and sugar? Do they tip? Do they get oat milk — which is a free change at Lazy Sundaes — because they’re lactose intolerant?

And hey, maybe they’re from a place without boba stores. Maybe they aren’t familiar with it and you can explain while you walk over, dodging other pedestrians and throwing your arm out to keep them from walking straight into a bicyclist. How romantic.

Lazy Sundaes is on Waverly Place, roughly across the street from the Torch Club.

Coffee at Matto

A clear plastic cup of coffee with a blue straw against a blue gradient background. There is a black rectangle with an illustration of a soldier with the word “Matto” written below it on the cup.
Matto is not only cheap, but an opportunity to form a new routine. (Photoillustration by Kevin Wu)

Getting coffee at Matto Espresso together became a pre-class routine for my partner and I, and we’d take turns treating the other. Everything costs $2.50 if you order through the Matto app, by the way, which is a real money-saver for the chronic coffee drinkers.

This is the choice for the people in your life who need their caffeine and aren’t limited to the time between classes — the rush and the pile-up of people at the pickup window are no joke. The menu isn’t extensive, but it’s a much cheaper, and often faster, alternative to Starbucks. If you just want a cappuccino or a latte with some hazelnut syrup, it’s a reliable 16-ounce serving. 

As for where to find Matto’s coffee, you can find it at, big surprise, Matto. There’s one inside the Stern School of Business and another on Mercer Street between Eighth Street and Waverly Place.


A large, blue, plastic water jug against a blue gradient background. On the jug is a label reading “Pure Life.”
Your heart needs water to function. (Photoillustration by Kevin Wu)

My partner first confessed their love to me after I gave them a cup of water. Hydrate or die-drate, you know? A simple premise, but it can be a hard habit to keep up.

Also, all right. It may sound stupid, but, in my experience, a lot of rather hot people are dehydrated. Take my partner, for one, and two of my best friends. Everyone needs to be hydrated, and isn’t it nice to have someone else fill up your water bottle for you? Even just offering to get that study-break refill will leave a positive impression and show consideration. Besides, if you’re really into them, keeping them healthy should be motivation itself.

As for where to get yourself some water, well, your nearest New York City faucet is the best source. Filtered or not, seriously, just drink some damn water.

Banana Milk

Three boxes of banana milk against a green gradient background. The boxes are yellow and have the word “banana” written on top with images of bananas and banana milk underneath.
Bananas aren’t just good for potassium. (Photoillustration by Kevin Wu)

This semester, I brought my partner two six-packs of banana milk as a gift. They were wrapped in multiple plastic bags, packed into my suitcase and rolled through JFK, all because they were on sale in Atlanta, and New York City’s infamously high prices unfortunately affect H Mart as well.

Sure, flavored milk is perhaps childish, but I can tell you: they are ​​fun and functional. The boxes are easy to store and take on the go, and they don’t need to be refrigerated. They contain enough sugar to give you a boost but not enough to hurt your heart. And finally, dropping it — even after you’ve poked the straw through — rarely results in spillage.

I can’t even say it’s a more adult Capri Sun — it feels just a little bit more refined than that. Plus, for the majority of the population that is lactose intolerant, the extra flavor is a nice bonus before the stomach cramps kick in.

You can buy it at H Mart or Teso Life, both of which are within blocks of Alumni Hall. 

Instant Coffee

A glass jar with a red cap against a blue and yellow gradient background. On the jar is a white label with the words “Trader Joe’s Instant Cold Brew Coffee” written on it. To the left of the jar is a reusable coffee cup. The cup is green with a black top and has a multicolored sticker on the right side of it.
Caffeine can power your next relationship. (Photoillustration by Kevin Wu)

I’m not huge on caffeine, but my partner is. Instant coffee is something they make — or I make for them — every other morning. And when you put some Planet Oat Dark Chocolate Oatmilk in there too? Amazing. 

Now for a crush, this suggestion can go either way. In my opinion, it’s easily the most intimate. Why?

Think about it. Unless you’re bringing a packet of this for someone who’s really on the go, then there’s a good chance you’re making this in your home. Or theirs — who’s to say. But that’s not the point — you and your object of affection are in the same housing space! Together! Right then and there as you pour hot water into a mug of powder and stir it up.

Coffee is a morning drink as well — I just hope that you asked your roommate before they stayed over.

Right now we have the Trader Joe’s Instant Cold Brew at home, which you can find at, surprise, Trader Joe’s.

Knowing someone’s order, picking up something that will make them smile or support them through that studying session, sharing a drink — these are the real goals.

Maintaining a relationship is hard. So much harder than finding a good drink or staying hydrated. There are ups and down, sweetness and spills, botched orders and bad timing. I’m not saying a warm drink on a cold day is enough of a replacement for a lover, but it will help keep your spirits up and your hands occupied.

Contact Shay Jones at [email protected].