There are a lot of things to figure out (or sometimes learn the hard way) post-college graduation. There’s figuring out how to manage your student loan debt, learning how to rock a group interview and, somewhere down the line, telling your boss that you’re quitting. But there’s one situation, no matter what industry you’re working in, that just about all of us will find ourselves in sooner or later. Yep, we’re talking about the office happy hour. And while enjoying a well-earned drink at the end of a hard day can be a great way to bond with coworkers, it also provides plenty of opportunity to screw up too. We caught up with Eric Arnold, a member of The League of Extraordinary Drinkers and one of the authors of the book Drink Like a Grown Up. He spilled all the deets on how to be just as professional in the bar as you are at the office (including what *not* to do, unless you want to be the talk of the office on Monday).
1. Don’t get sloppy. Call it adulting, but drinking during a work situation is not the same as when you were on your college campus. Eric adds, “Ever hear the phrase, ‘Never let them see you sweat?’ Never let them see you puke into a sidewalk garbage can, either. If you know you’re usually fine on three drinks, have two. If you’re usually fine on two, drink just one.” That way you’re participating in the fun and don’t embarrass yourself.
2. Choose mid-shelf drinks. “Cocktails don’t always taste better if they’re more expensive, meaning you don’t look smart if you order Pappy Van Winkle just because somebody else is buying. You’ll appear wasteful.” Go for a mid-shelf liquor to prevent a hangover. Bonus: You’ll look like you’re experienced enough to have a preference over well drinks, but know Grey Goose very arguably isn’t the best vodka just because it costs twice as much.
3. Consider the environment. Like you would handle a business meeting, check your surroundings. “If you’re in a wood-paneled bar with taxidermy adorning the walls, odds are the bartender won’t be making a particularly good Manhattan. Also, you might come off like a snob,” said Eric. If you’re at a beer place and really hate beer, order wine or something super simple, like a gin and tonic.
4. No shots. Ever. Honestly, this is probably a good rule just… you know… in general, but Eric probably puts it best: “No after-work outing that involved shots ever ended well. If someone offers up shots, it’s time to head for the exits.” Touché, Eric, touché.
5. Have a backup cocktail. “Not every bartender can make every drink, so have a backup. For example, if your usual is a gimlet and the bartender seems confused, just go for a martini,” advises Eric. That way you won’t hold up the line, but will still get a drink you like.
6. Don’t experiment. There’s something to be said about sticking to your old faithful, especially when your boss might be involved in the festivities. Eric agrees, saying, “You know the drinks you like and the ones you don’t. On someone else’s dime, at a time when you need to make a good impression, it’s usually not the best occasion to order the bar’s special made of six different liquors, juices and sugar.”
7. Tip well. “Especially if the bar is used to dealing with your rowdy coworkers, a good tip lets the bartender know you’re the cool, composed one. Bartenders have memories like elephants, and they’ll treat you well next time you visit on your own, sans the suits from the surrounding cubicles,” notes Eric.
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(Photos via Getty)