So today I ordered pizza, and after that, I wanted to ask the waiter what were my options for drinking. (I wanted to order some Coke or Pepsi.)

I asked the waiter :-

  • What are my options for drinking?

But this sounds strange. People don’t say this usually.

Could I have said :-

  • What do you have for refreshments?

But refreshment could mean snacks and drinks (not drinks alone)? Could i have said

  • What do you have for drinking?

Does that sound unsophisticated ?


I just came across another situation :-

If I want to ask the waiter what are your hot beverage options, is this the right way to ask?

  • What hot drinks do you have ?
  • 3
    Probably most naturally, What drinks do you have? Your What do you have for drinking? doesn't sound "unsophisticated" - just weird. But you could certainly ask What do you have to drink? Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 16:36
  • 1
    Sorry, here I came across another issue. In India, if we say drinks, by default it means "hard drinks " or alcohol based [email protected] it a possibility we can say "Soft drinks"
    – user131129
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 16:42
  • 1
    I understand that the actual noun drink/s might typically be used to mean alcoholic drinks in many contexts (feasibly even more so in Indian English, but I know nothing about that). But I certainly wouldn't expect anyone to make the same assumption with What do you have to drink? But anyway, if that is the case for people speaking "Indian English", I have to assume you are one of those IE speakers - in which case you don't need me to teach you your own language! :) Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 16:49
  • 1
    In the UK at least, places like burger bars and kebab shops usually don't have a license for alcoholic drinks, and they rarely offer "a cup of tea to go" - so practically by definition, all they offer is soft drinks. But you'd normally only ask What soft drinks do you have? in a context where the main liquids being served are either alcoholic or they're "hot beverages" (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, etc.). Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 16:51
  • 1
    Refreshments usually refers to a small amount of food and drink made available when people have gathered together for another purpose. It sounds odd to use it for a drink served with a restaurant meal. Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 17:24

1 Answer 1


In India as in other places, "drinks" is understood contextually.

If you generally say "he drinks" when speaking about a person, it will not be taken to mean "he drinks water". It is contextually understood you are referring to alcoholic drink regardless of if you are in India or America.

So at a pizza place in India where ostensibly no alcohol is served, you can unhesitatingly ask "What drinks do you have" and no one will assume you are asking for Old Monk.

The challenge here is not about being understood, it's about using phrasing that flows easily, is current in usage, and is not over-formal or contorted.

"Refreshments" is quite formal to the extent that it is not typically used in the context of actually ordering; it is used while planning events and menus. So if you ask for refreshments a waiter might stop and take a moment to decipher what you need.

"Soft drinks" is an outmoded term, used mostly by parents or the older generation. If you still want to be explicit, "cold drinks" is more common in the Indian context - "Do you have any cold drinks?"

"What do you have to drink?" also works, although it's so open-ended that practically I'd wonder if you expect him to recite the entire drink menu, which can be rather long at some places. At such places, just ask for the menu instead of asking for options verbally. "Can I have the menu, please?"

Lastly, in India the wine list or alcohol menu is usually a separate menu, called the "drinks menu" which you could ask for if you're at a place that serves alcohol.

EDIT: As discussed, "Cold Drinks" (or "cool drinks" in Southern India) is still used, even if it sounds old-fashioned. There is no corresponding commonly used term for hot or warm drinks, so I would personally prefer "Do you have anything warm to drink?" over "Do you have any hot drinks?". Both would be equally understood, however.

  • What refreshment will they be serving at the party? Just thought I'd add that for the poster but I upvoted your answer. refreshments are associated with events or parties. One doesn't go into a restaurant and ask about their refreshments....
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 18:34
  • @Pranab- thanks for the awesome answer. It would be really nice of you if you can help me with the EDIT question
    – user131129
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 18:02
  • @user131129 I updated my answer. Also, I would like to say that using "sophisticated" words and sentences like Shashi Tharoor stands out equally as much as using incorrect words. For example in Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper's use of the formal term "hot beverage" is a joke to show how he does not behave normally. For a learner the usual goal should be to speak like an average native speaker, using simple language that you can pick up from watching series like Friends, rather than someone posh or archaic out of Downton Abbey.
    – Pranab
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 9:56

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