A Gentleman’s Survival Guide: Drinking at Formal Gatherings


There are always events in a man’s (or woman’s) life which he will have to navigate with care and precision. Whether it’s a first date, a job interview or, as we tackled in this space previously, going to a GB, a man needs to tread carefully and strategically if he wants positive results. After all, nobody wants to make a fool of himself. One such occasion that needs expert maneuvering is drinking during formal social events like weddings, fancy corporate gatherings or birthdays of the rich and famous. You’re dressed well, probably in a high end hotel and there are cameras constantly taking photos. What do you do?


The beginning part of the evening is critical, as your choices at this hour can spell the difference between ending the night a superstar or getting drunk before dessert is even served.

First rule of cocktail hour – don’t order beer. Beer is good for almost any occasion, but at this point in the night you don’t want to get too full for the meal ahead. Sure, you can tell yourself you’ll just have a bottle. If there’s anything we know for sure though, it’s never just one bottle.

What should you get instead? Wine is good, which brings us to the second rule. Don’t order the red. Not yet. Red wine will stain your teeth easily and you have a bunch of photo sessions ahead. Save the red wine for the meal, once most of the smiles are out of the way. Stick with clear liquor cocktails or white wine. It’s lighter on the palate and more forgiving to the teeth.

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As you sit down for dinner, there a few things you should keep in check. One, that you’re buzzed enough to be comfortable and able to engage in conversations with strangers. Two, that you aren’t too full on booze that you can’t enjoy your meal.

If you’ve been drinking white wine during the cocktails, dinner is the perfect time to switch to a nice Merlot. Since this is a fancy social gathering, chances are there’s a nice cut of meat that’s going to be served for supper. Have a glass of red along with your steak and you’re golden.

Pro tip – in between courses or right before dessert, ask for an ice-cold shot of limoncello if they have it. It’s the perfect palate cleanser and will whet your appetite for whatever course is next.

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After the meal

Again, don’t order a beer unless you really can’t live without it. Beer is heavy and will slow you down, especially after a nice meal. Once dessert is over with, have a glass of brandy or a fifth of scotch. The richness of these liquors will keep you from over-indulging while still maintaining that nice buzz you’ve worked up throughout the night.

If there’s an appropriate time to get drunk, it’s when the bottles of the good stuff are served to the guests. If you want to let loose a little bit, make sure you’re sipping on a Macallan and not Johnnie Walker Red Label. Otherwise, what’s the point?

After the dancing is done and the music winds down, it’s time for your most important drink of the evening – water. Drink lots of it. If you can help it, drink a glass for every shot you’ve taken throughout the night. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow.

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Featured image via Casino Royale(2006) screen cap starring Daniel Craig

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