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Drinking On The Job


eloise blog

Whether you are someone who enjoys adult beverages or not, there are times professionally when drinking is apart of the “job”. The important thing to realize is that it is a component of the event, not the focus. Meaning that what you order should be appropriate financially and socially.

As a recent college grad, I knew my favorite margarita and that I liked white wine over red wine. But when I was at my first business dinner with all men and the waiter came to me first (as the lady) to order a drink, I froze… “Should I order beer, wine, a mixed drink?” I decided wine was going to be my friend. Then I asked “which one do I pick from the 100 options!?” I knew the company was paying the bill so I needed to be conscious of price. So I asked the waiter “What white do you recommend if I am thinking about ordering ____.”

After a series of these professional drinking situations (networking events, trade show events and dinners, work Christmas parties), I decided one day I would help other professionals navigate professional protocol for drinking.

Here we are today and I can’t say I am an expert. I am still indecisive when it comes to which cocktail looks the best but I know when it is appropriate to order wine, beer, a mixed drink or a cocktail. For additional back up, I enlisted former bartender, Tyler Globetti to help us look and feel confident while ordering and drinking on the job.

Tyler will be sharing her 3 tips, her go to drink orders, and then we will share how to navigate The Networking Event, The Dinner, and The Bar scenarios.



Tyler here! I am going to give you beer, wine, mix drink and cocktail options for 3 different professional drinking scenarios BUT if I could give you 3 general tips, they would be to ...

Stay away from liquor.

Stick with wine and beer.

I say this because these are not the times to find out if you can tolerate a liquor or what your tolerance is.

1-2 drinks per hour is the max you should have.

When in doubt, ask around!

“What are you drinking tonight?”

Survey the room. What are others drinking? There is nothing wrong with asking someone else at the event or the person sitting next to you at dinner, “What are you drinking tonight?”. Just be confident and don’t talk about the fact that you don’t know what to drink.

Whatever you decide to order, sip it!

Don’t be afraid to start with a glass of water if you need a minute to gather yourself. If you are thirsty, don’t let your alcoholic drink be your thirst quencher. Drinking can catch up with you quickly in a social setting, so remember it is a work event even if its a super fun party and others are indulging.



When Ordering Wine

Wine is something you can sip throughout the evening which makes it a great choice for work events. If you aren't a big drinker this is the most inconspicuous way to nurse a drink for a long time without anyone thinking too much about if you need a refill.

Most wine lists are separated into 3 categories Bubbly, White, and Red. These wines will usually be on the menu by section with the milder flavored wines at the top of the section. If you aren’t sure about what to get, just stick with the top portion of the white wine list, it’s always a safe bet.

If this is a fancy place and for some reason you are given a sample and asked if the wine is okay, {insert deer in headlights facial expression}, just take a small (normal) sip and politely tell them is great.

If you don’t know how to pronounce wine names, here is a helpful You Tube video:

Both of my recommendations below will go well with almost any food being served at the event.

White Wine:

Go with Pinot Grigio. It is always an option even at a bar with limited options. Not too sweet, not too dry. We recommend you stay away from White Zinfadel because people sometimes have unwarranted perceptions of “girly” wines.

Red Wine:

Pinot Noir is always a safe red. It’s lighter-bodied red usually with berry flavors. Good one to try if you are just starting to drink red wine.

If you need to ask the bartender or waiter what to order use a line like this:

“I like a sweeter white wine, what do you recommend?”

“I like a semi-dry red wine, what do you recommend?”


When Ordering Beer

The Depot Drinks

Beer is served in a bottle/can or on draft. (Remember Draft means it will be poured directly from the tap on the wall in a glass.) I recommend ordering draft or have your canned/bottled beer poured in a glass.

If you have to order a bottle beer, the following options look a little more artisan but don’t break the bank:

  • Amstel Light (If you usually go for Bud Light or the college tried & true like Natty Lite)

  • Blue Moon (If you want something more than a basic light beer)

  • Yuengling (If you want something a little darker but don’t want to get into Craft beers)

If you need to ask the bartender or waiter what to order use a line like this:

“Do you have anything local that you recommend?”


When Ordering Mix Drinks & Cocktails

The Depot Drinks

Keep it simple. This is not the time to impress the bartender, waiter, or your boss. Unless you are pursuing a career related to the beverage industry, your brand and reputation is not based on how well you can order a rare drink or liquor. Don't embarrass yourself by flexing your drinking knowledge.

I am going to list 2-3 mix drinks and cocktails for the following liquors: Gin, Vodka, Rum, Whiskey, and Tequila. These beautiful pictures are from The Depot, a restaurant and bar in downtown Auburn, AL. Hopefully they will help you remember what to order!


Mixed Drink: Gin and Tonic

Cocktail: Gimlet (seen above)


Mixed Drink: Whiskey Ginger or Whiskey Sour

Cocktail: Old Fashion


Mixed Drink: Rum and Coke with lime

Cocktail: Mojito (seen above in silver cup)


Mixed Drink: Vodka Soda

Cocktail: Moscow Mule (seen above) or French 75 (champagne based)


Mixed Drink/ Cocktail: Keep it simple with a lime margarita on the rocks


If you need to ask the bartender or waiter what to order use a line like this:

“Do you have a signature cocktail that is easy to sip on?”

When they ask you … “What liquor do you prefer?” … and you freeze.

At this point you just decided you want a Whiskey Ginger (Eloise’s favorite) and now they want to know which Whiskey you prefer. You don’t want to break the bank but you don’t want something that make you wish you had never had a drink in your life! (the dreaded morning headache). Here is our basic liquor list. Everyone has their own preferences but if you haven’t tried anything before, start here!

Gin: Tanqueray

Rum: Bacardi

Tequila: 1800 Silver (Silver is smoother - less headache later!)

Vodka: Titos

Whiskey: Jameson or Jack Daniels

Whiskey/Bourbon: Makers Mark or Crown (sweeter option), Eloise loves Bulleit right now



Scenario 1:

Simple Guide to Drinking at a Networking Event

Don’t panic...there aren’t that many options. At most networking events there will be limited beer and wine options. They probably won’t have a full bar with liquor options so it is easier to pick. They will also have their beer and wine options sitting out so you can easily see them and pick one.

If the options are not out for you to see, you can always ask “What white wines do you have?” There will probably be 2 options to pick from. Most likely a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.

Be mindful that you will be shaking hands and possibly holding business cards. Make sure to get a koozie or napkin to absorb the condensation of your drink.

Scenario 2:

Simple Guide to Drinking at a Work Meal

Be mindful that someone else is footing the bill. Stay under $10 no matter what. And I usually try and stay at $8-$9 for wine, mixed drinks, and cocktails. Be mindful of the craft beers. They can be more expensive.

Let others set the tone at the table. If the waiter comes to your first (like in my story) ask if they can come back to you as you would like a moment to look at the menu/drink menu.

If asked to have another alcoholic drink, we recommend saying “No Thank You”. Unless you know the group well and feel it is appropriate to have 1 more.

Scenario 3:

Simple Guide to Drinking at a Bar

Decide before you walk up to the bar if you are ordering beer, wine, or a mixed drink. Don’t be that annoying person who wastes the busy bartender’s time as you try to decide.

If you are at a restaurant bar, there will be a menu. Once at the bar, you can request a menu and look at the options.

If you are at a bar (with no restaurant) there will not be a menu most likely. You will need to know what you want.



Go ahead and decide now what your go to drinks are for beer, wine, and mixed drinks based on the recommendations above.


-Eloise and Tyler



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