If you spiral into a whirlwind of social anxiety the second someone calls for a round of shots, then, well, we have some work to do. Shots are supposed to be fun bonding experiences. They exist to get the party started—not to make you look like an idiot. But lucky for you, it’s easy to take a shot and look like a pro—even if you’re brand new to the boozy ritual. Just follow these simple guidelines:
Stick to straight spirits.
If you want to look like a pro, you have to order like one. If you’re the designated shot-orderer, skip the Cement Mixers and B-52s. These drinks, while fun, are the telltale signs of a newbie. Instead, opt for something like whiskey or tequila or even Fireball, if you must.
Don’t light the shot on fire.
If you immediately reach for your lighter when someone hands you a shot, you’ll soon find yourself lacking in friends—and probably at least one eyebrow. Lighting shots on fire is dangerous and dumb. Leave the flaming drinks to the tiki bar and drink your shots raw.
Avoid complicated toasts.
When in doubt of what to say when raising a glass, stick with the tried and true, “cheers.” Don’t launch in on a crazy rhyming ode to the Emerald Isles or some Spanish saying you once heard in a movie. You’re just taking a shot, not sending the troops off to war.
Memorize the tequila shot sequence.
If the shot of choice is tequila, then odds are the lime and the salt are going to show up as well. Don’t panic. Just remember: salt, tequila, lime. STL—like St. Louis. Lick your hand (the back of it, by your thumb), dash some salt onto it, lick the salt, take the shot, bite the lime. Tequila! (Don’t actually yell that last part, though.)
Don’t sip it.
Shots are meant to be shot—that means one gulp. Do not savor a shot or daintily lap it up like a kitty cat. People should never have to wait for you to finish a shot. If they do, you probably won’t be included in the circle again.
Don’t hold your nose.
It’s not that bad. It’s a brief moment of burning alcohol and then it’s over. Unplug your nostrils and suffer through the ethanol with the rest of your pals.
Don’t hold it in your mouth.
There is no middleman involved in taking a shot. It goes straight from the glass down your throat. Your mouth is merely the gateway through which it passes.
Don’t wince or gag.
Again, it’s just not that bad. If you must, have yourself a little shiver and let out an appropriately enthusiastic whoop. But don’t make a face. Don’t stick your tongue out. Don’t say blech. These are all signs that you are far from a professional.
Try not to immediately chase it.
Reaching for that beer or cider or water or stranger’s cocktail right after taking a shot won’t make you look like an amateur, but you will lose a few cool points. Ride out the burn for as long as you can, then take a small sip. Now that’s how a pro does it.