The Rules For Drinking While Doing Business

You’re grown, and guess what? Sometimes you want to have a drink when doing business. And that’s alright, as long as you don’t make a fool out of yourself by getting drunk (or drinking the wrong thing). Esquire magazine writer Ross McCammon likes to drink when he works and he came up with 16 ways you can do the same. We picked out a few our favorites to share with you here.

You called the meeting, you get to the bar early. Even if you didn’t call the meeting, you get there early. Because if you get there early, you begin defining relationships. Not only between you and the people you’re meeting with, but between you and the bar itself: the cocktail waitresses, the bartenders, the guy sitting next to you. You have come to this bar for relationships. You might as well begin making them.

If you’re ordering beer, it should not be a light beer. Light beers are weak beers. They are tentative. They are for weak people. No one has ever wanted to enter into or continue a relationship with a weak person. Order anything else: a Guinness, a Budweiser, whatever IPA is on tap, etc.

Always drink what you want. There’s a thing that happens in meetings at a bar or even over lunch. The first person orders a beer. The second person orders a beer. The third and fourth people order beers. You are the fifth person. You don’t want a beer. You want a whiskey. Do you order the beer? You do not. You order a whiskey. More often than not, you will find that the second through fourth persons will change their orders based on your order–the rogue order. Because they never wanted a beer. No one should ever drink anything in a meeting at a bar they wouldn’t drink by themselves.

There are some drinks no one should ever order during a business meeting. No light beers, as stated previously. No rum and Cokes. Not because this isn’t a serious drink (it’s a serious drink in the right context–if you’re in a beach bar in Cuba, for instance) but because it is too closely connected to nonserious drinkers. No gin and tonics unless it’s hot outside. No drinks ordered off the cocktail menu. There is great risk here. When you order off the cocktail menu, you risk that the drink comes in a very tall glass with too much accoutrement: oranges and cherries and umbrellas, etc. Then you’re the one sitting there with the stupid drink. You don’t want to be the one with the stupid drink.

At some point, order and pay for a round. Doesn’t matter if you are the one being courted. Order a round. You are capable of ordering and paying, so you do.

Do not get drunk. To aid this, come hydrated and well fed. And don’t drink too much. How much to drink? Don’t drink more than the most senior person at the meeting (client, partner, co-worker or the potential version of all these). To ensure this, order a “water back” with your first order. Drink at least half a glass of water for each drink. Sinatra supposedly did this. Even if he didn’t, you should. If you start with a whiskey, switch to beer after the second one.

Only bring up business after the first drink. You’ve allowed people to relax. You’ve allowed them to get their bearings. The only business that happens before the second drink is the business of drinking. Which is serious business.

Here’s when you leave: You leave about 30 minutes after you’ve deemed that business has been taken care of. You leave before you’ve gotten drunk. You leave in a position of strength. There are three phases of a long night of drinking. There is the first half, when no one is having any fun, when things are a little awkward and you’re feeling everyone out and they’re feeling you out. There’s a second half, when things are fun, when things are comfortable, when things are still intelligent and when work is getting done. And then there is overtime. Overtime is tricky. This is the time when work has been done, when you are still feeling good, when you could stick around for a little while. You could go either way, you know? “Another drink?” someone asks you. “Come on!” they say. The answer is: You have to get going. You’d love to, though, really. But you’ve gotta get home. Whether or not you go home is unimportant. Maybe you do. Or maybe you go to another bar, where there aren’t so many rules. The point is, these aren’t your friends. These are people you’re doing business with. Big difference. And when you’re doing business, you quit while you’re still pretty much sober. That is: ahead.

To peep the rest of McCammon’s list CLICK HERE.