The following are a variety of rules I try to stick to when I’m drinking. Most of them have come from conversations and experiences with friends, some from chatting with servers, others from signs posted in bars.
- If you have to work in the morning, never go drinking with people who don’t.
- Shots are for beginning-of-the-evening enjoyment only and serve with appetizers, but not as a nightcap. Any shot provided after the third round should be ignored.
- Always toast before shots. Whoever purchased said round of shots gets first dibs on the toast.
- Tip early, tip often.
- Beer is your friend. Stick with beer and you’ll be cool. A little wine is acceptable too; or perhaps a cocktail or two. But not beer, wine and cocktails. No more than two types of drink should be consumed in an evening.
- Find out your server’s name. Check their nametag or better yet, ask. Also, treat them with respect. Aside from being a common courtesy, this will pay off the longer you’re at the bar.
- When the bartender is slammed, the more complex your drink, the more they will hate you. Limit orders to beer, straight shots and two-part cocktails.
- Get the bartender’s attention with eye contact. NEVER yell out to them.
- Use your head. If you’ve been drinking beer all night and a scotch on the rocks sounds good, keep in mind that your numb tastebuds have their gears set to “beer pace.” Beer is your friend.
- Don’t drink any cocktail prepared by an amateur bartender. This is about the most important rule, especially if it’s a drink they “made up in college.” If Kool-Aid is an ingredient: WARNING.
- If you’re pouring, measure. I cannot stress this enough. Always put the same amount in your cocktails. If you like them strong, fine. Pour a double. But be consistent and use a shotglass.
- Be cautious of how you plug the jukebox. We all love Guns-N-Roses, but not their entire anthology back-to-back. Remember you’re playing music for everybody — not just you.
- If it looks like a happy hour is gonna slip into a bar night, EAT. And eat well. The low-fat side caesar is no match for those six Screaming Purple Gut-Reamers. They make fried cheese-sticks for a reason.
- With *very* few exceptions among the scotches and elsewhere, there is no liquor over 80 proof that is worth dealing with. 100-proof does not equal “fun.”
- Never call in sick to work because you have a hangover. You got yourself into this one, so live with it. This is especially true if it was co-workers you got hammered with.
- That reminds me: Go to the bar with your co-workers. Even if you don’t like to drink. For lots of people, the conversation takes a very different turn as soon as the saloon doors swing open. And there’s no better respect a boss can get than that which derives from an atonal rendition of “Mack the Knife” at Karaoke Hut. Have a Coke.
- Never turn down a drink on the house.
- Find a place you like and become a regular. Not to the point of being a lush, but to the point of the bartenders and wait staff knowing you by name.
- If at all possible, avoid drinking beer out of a plastic cup.
- If there’s a DJ, never say “I’ll give you $5 if you play…”. Tip up front or just don’t bring it up. He won’t believe you. The same goes with servers; never promise a tip “…if…” they do something. Pay up, THEN ask. Again again, tip your servers early and often.
- If someone in your group buys a round of drinks, buy a reciprocal round or pay the tip (or at least offer).
If your drinking nights usually end with kisses on the cheek and “Have a great weekend, everybody,” you’re doing it right. If your drinking nights usually end with split lips and “You have the right to remain silent,” you’re doing it wrong.