Adult Things

The Art of Casual Drinking

I learned a lot of things in college.

Mostly about anatomy and neurology and how babies develop language. (Spoiler, they just do. Babies are pretty cool that way.) But I also learned how to be uncomfortable and how to make hard decisions. How to problem-solve when all I want to do is freak out and call my mom. How to find an apartment and how to properly clean a bathroom.

But there’s one thing I didn’t learn in my 5 years (and counting) of higher education.

I never learned how to casually drink.

This feels like kind of a rip-off.

I learned how to measure my shots of flavored vodka into a water bottle so that when I took blind swigs from that water bottle in a crowded dorm room later, I could estimate how much I’d had. (This process involves pouring vodka into shot glasses, then into empty water bottles. Yes, it goes everywhere.) I learned how to identify the far-off look in my friends’ eyes that told me they needed to get home immediately. I learned how to clean puke off a cheap futon without giving up and setting it on fire.

Turns out none of these skills apply to going out for beers with coworkers on a weeknight. I soon realized that I only knew how to drink zero beers or five beers. And I was consistently nervous about having slightly too much to be able to drive myself home.

I like to think of casual drinking the way I think about yoga: a complex, subtle art that I’ll probably practice forever without mastering. I’m better at it now than I was a couple years ago, but I’m still doing the best I can with the body (and executive functioning) I have today.

I’ve mastered the have-a-craft-beer-with-dinner pose, but my find-a-mixed-drink-that-you-actually-enjoy pose could use some work. It’s a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve learned so far.


  • Eat something. Anything.
  • Drink water. Don’t forget water!
  • Either have one drink per hour or stop after two.
  • No, don’t do shots. What the hell do you think this is, you monster?
  • Stick to stouts, because after one or two of those you’ll be too full to stomach anything else, trust me.
  • Order the coolest-sounding IPA on the menu to impress all your friends then don’t finish it because it’s way too bitter.
  • If you don’t want the drink anymore, DON’T FINISH IT. YOU DON’T HAVE TO FINISH IT.

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