Every coach, consultant and self-proclaimed guru adamantly advise people to impose a 2-drink limit at a professional meeting or event where alcohol is being served. If you need that type of hand-holding then my advice is not for you. My tips and tricks teach you how to maintain a respectable, professional image at any event so you can avoid being a party-pooper and total buzzkill!
The world is not perfect. A two-drink maximum may work for the CEO who only socializes with employees once annually at company holiday party he or she is required to attend. Everyone else understands it’s not that simple. What if your client wants to order another bottle of wine? How can you make 2-drinks last the entire event so you’re not the person walking around with an empty glass? Fear not my virgin pina coladas, I’ve devoted countless hours and sleepless nights to perfecting these tricks of the trade. Now if only I could remember them all…
- Know your limits — Individual thresholds for levels of sobriety vary from person to person. There are fine lines between taking the edge off, having a buzz, intoxication and being a sloppy mess.
- Follow the Leader — Whether it’s your manager or a client, try to stay 1 drink behind them. If the night takes a turn for the worse, which sometimes happens, you get a free pass because they are leading the charge!
- Don’t Be “The Bar” — There is someone at every event who sets the bar. This illustrious title is reserved for the individual everyone else uses for comparison, i.e. “at least I wasn’t as drunk as (insert The Bar’s name here).“
- Your Drink Order Matters — Know the environment, your companions, and anticipate how the night will play-out. A few notable details:
- Avoid drinks that linger on your breath like gin, tequila, Jagermeister, etc.
- When drinking beer, keep it classy. You can flush your reputation and any respect you’ve earned down the toilet by ordering a PBR or Keystone Light. Amstel Light is usually a safe choice.
- Stick to drinks comparable in price. You don’t want to be the person everyone gawks at for running up the tab with $20 Red Bull Vodkas. If everyone in the group orders a draft beer you should probably refrain from ordering that Macallan 18 and go with a beer.
- Give Yourself an Out — In the company of heavy-drinkers with a higher tolerance than you, give yourself an out with the Vodka Soda Trick: Make your first drink a vodka-soda. After that you can order a club soda with a lime any time because both drinks look the same. The Vodka Soda Trick works like a charm and your company will never know the difference. The restroom is a great excuse to step away from the table and subtly request that the bartender or waiter make the switch for you. Staff are surprisingly familiar with the Vodka Soda Trick so your secret is safe as you casually sip on your club soda surrounded by your drunk associates.
- Don’t Be the Last to Leave — In college leaving before the bar closed or party ended may be frowned upon, but a professional environment may see your social endurance as a liability. Don’t panic and suck down your drink when you see the event winding down. Unlike your undergraduate faux pas, not finishing your last drink demonstrates a level of responsibility instead of the public outcry students express when a wounded-soldier is left behind.
- Wait for the Client or Leader to Initiate Another Round — Sit back and follow the leader. Supporting their decision, like it or not, will only strengthen your rapport and massage their ego. This approach ensures you and the company you keep are on the same page, which is usually good for business!
Different functions and environments call for different behaviors. You may find yourself enjoying a couples cocktails with colleagues at a networking event, or you could be enjoying the 8th round of beers with a favorite customer that loves a night of heavy-drinking. Either way, you will accomplish your mission and protect your reputation if you execute these strategies. Know your limit and pay close attention to your environment at all times. Once you have mastered these skills, it is a right of passage to forward this advice to a friend or colleague that needs it – that person will probably be The Bar at your next event!