11 Social Drinking Rules for Any Outing: Stay Classy When Drinking

Whether you like it or not, there’s a huge difference between drinking at college parties and drinking at formal events. At these types of get-togethers, it’s usually not considered “cool” to get hammered. While that might disappoint you, that doesn’t mean you have to abstain from drinking altogether.

Drinking at restaurants, bars, and dinner parties call for a set of different drinking manners. If you want to appear composed at an outing with friends, family, coworkers, or complete strangers, keep these social drinking rules in mind.

1. Don’t Chug Your Drink

dont chug drink rules
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This isn’t a college drinking competition – you won’t get praised for downing five beers in one minute. As much as you might enjoy alcohol, you should avoid plowing through drinks. Not only does this get you too drunk too fast, but it’s also a sign that you need to grow up and get out of your college phase. Instead, try to keep the same drinking pace as the people around you.

2. Avoid Food/Lipstick Marks on Your Glass

Sometimes, a stain on your glass is unavoidable. You might unknowingly have food smudged on your lips before you take a sip of wine. This results in a messy-looking glass that you’re too embarrassed to clean off in front of everyone. To completely avoid this situation, always dab your lips with a napkin before you take a swig.

wipe face drinking rules

If you plan on wearing lipstick during your night out, I’d advise against it. Unless you’re wearing long-lasting lip stain, lipstick will always leave sloppy smudge marks all over your glass.

3. Avoid Hard Liquor With Meals

When you’re at a casual outing, it doesn’t really matter what kind of drink you have with your meal. However, a formal event calls for a more “proper” way of drinking.

whiskey meals drinking rules

Dinners with seafood, pasta, and salad are typically accompanied by white wine, while red wine gets served with red meats. When all the meals have been served, then you can start having your favorite spirit and dessert wine.

4. Chew First, Then Sip

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Never drink with your mouth full. Your wine and steak combo may taste delicious, but you should keep this habit inside the comfort of your home. Make sure you fully chew and swallow your food before you pick up your drink.

5. Consume Garnish the Right Way

While some might say you shouldn’t eat the garnish on your drink at all, it’s actually okay to do – you just have to eat it the right way.

eat garnish drinking rules

If the garnish is dunked far inside your drink, don’t eat it right away. Wait until you’ve consumed most of your drink before going for that garnish. Otherwise, you’ll have to dip your fingers inside your drink, which obviously isn’t very pleasant or polite. If the garnish is on a toothpick, you can eat it at any time as long as you aren’t sticking your fingers in your drink.

As for lemon or lime wedges, you have to decide for yourself. Citrus slices are notorious for not getting properly washed at restaurants and bars.

6. Hold Your Wine Glass Correctly

Yes, there’s a “right” way to hold your wine glass. You’re probably accustomed to holding your glass on the bowl portion, but that’s all wrong. You should hold your wine glass at the base of the stem (like in the photo below), and in between your thumb and pointer finger.

hold wine glass drinking rules

Surprisingly enough, there’s a reason behind holding your wine glass at the stem. Holding your wine glass at the bowl actually heats up your wine and leaves nasty fingerprints.

7. Refrain From Chewing Ice

dont chew ice drinking rules

After you finish your mixed drink, you might feel tempted to munch on those extra ice cubes. Try your best to refrain from this habit when you’re out.

8. Don’t Overdo It

dont overdo drinking rules

The most important rule of social drinking is not to overdo it. You don’t want to drink more than you can handle, especially when you’re at a formal event or fancy dinner party. Getting too drunk will likely result in embarrassment, and won’t make you a very fun person to hang around. That said, don’t feel pressured into excessive drinking.

9. Avoid Being the Only One Drinking

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This one might sound strange, but if no one else is drinking at an event, avoid ordering a drink yourself. When it comes to business dinners or meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time at dinner or lunch, there may be an unspoken rule to avoid alcohol. Take your cues from those already there. If they order a drink, so can you. Otherwise, skip it for now.

10. Pay Attention to Your Behavior

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The last thing you want is for college party you to come out and play during a more formal event. Only you know how many drinks it takes for you to from a little tipsy to full-blown drunk. As mentioned above, pace yourself. Take it slow and fill up on water in between drinks. If you notice you’re starting to slur words, getting louder than you should be, or your mental filter has shut down and you’re saying things you’ll regret later, it’s time to stop drinking.

11. Trust Your Friends

Social Drinking Rules Friends
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It’s easy to break social drinking rules, especially if you’re at an event that’s incredibly boring or frustrating. But, trust your friends to be there for you. Watch out for each other. Give a little nudge if a friend seems to be throwing back drinks too fast or is getting out of hand.

Stay Classy While Drinking

While you don’t have to follow all of these social drinking rules, they’re good to know. Just keep in mind that there are still cases where you’ll want to strictly follow all of these drinking manners.

An office party or a dinner with your boss are examples of outings that require proper drinking manners. But what about etiquette when you’re in the office? These workplace etiquette tips will help you stay polite at work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it acceptable to not drink at a social occasion?

If you’re at an event where everyone else is drinking, but you either don’t want to or you’re afraid you can’t hold back, it’s perfectly fine to not drink. Sometimes, people will nurse a single drink all night just to avoid any questions. You don’t have to provide any excuses.

What's the safest drink that's socially acceptable?

Usually, wine is the classiest option. Of course, a martini also makes you seem incredibly classy. Simple cocktails and mixed drinks work well, depending on the situation. For really formal events, you’ll usually want to avoid beer and hard liquor. For more casual events, beer is fine, especially specialty and craft brews.

When should I stop drinking?

As long as others are still drinking, it’s still classy to drink yourself. Remember, the main social drinking rule is to not let yourself get hammered. So, if you’re okay, then you can have another.

Image credit: Elina Sazonova via Pexels

Crystal Crowder

Crystal's spent over 15 years as a tech geek who writes about everything from gadgets to lifestyle and everything in between. She not only wants to live her best life, but help others do the same.