The Dos and Don’ts of Drinking with Coworkers

Mark Yocca / Supercall

Drinking with coworkers is a good thing—and we’re not just saying that because we want an excuse to hit happy hour. A 2014 study entitled “Drinking to Reach the Top” showed that people who went out for drinks with coworkers were more successful than those who didn’t. But that doesn’t mean you should go out on a staff bender—drinking with office mates is delicate business. If you want to be the life of the office party instead of tomorrow’s hot topic on Slack, follow these simple Dos and Don’ts.

DO Buy a Round

If this isn’t an office-funded event, go ahead and buy a round. It’ll come back to you eventually, we promise, and you’ll immediately become everyone’s favorite desk jockey.

DON’T Forget to Eat

When happy hour starts right after work, dinner time can come and go while you’re still at the bar, yukking it up. Without some hearty nourishment, that good time can quickly turn into a bad night and an even worse morning. Dig into those potato skins.

DON’T Order Shots

This is a work outing, not the open bar at your 10-year high school reunion.

DON’T Order Anything Stronger Than a Vodka-Soda

At around 15% ABV, a Vodka-Soda is about as stiff as you should get with your order. Sippable tall drinks, beer and wine are your best bets for these afterwork occasions. Stay away from potent Negronis, Martinis or Old Fashioneds; these spell instant inebriation for your fresh-off-the-clock self.

DO Know Your Limits

If you are the type who can handle one beer and only one beer, then this is not the time to have five beers.

DON’T Gossip About Other Employees

A couple of drinks will loosen that tongue of yours—but resist the urge to spill the deets, and just take another bite of those potato skins instead. Entering the bar might feel like you’re entering an alternate dimension where there is no Friday morning meeting, but the office and all its politics definitely still exist. So skip the chatter about Martha and Dan’s supply closet rendezvous.

DON’T Order Shots. Really.

This is a work outing, not your cousin Chad’s bachelor party.

DO Talk About Something Besides Work

Just because you can’t speculate on whether Jim from accounting is the one stealing everyone’s lunches from the fridge doesn’t mean you should stick to boring old work topics like Q4 goals or social media strategy. In fact, avoid that stuff altogether. Use this time away from the office to trade Game of Thrones theories and make-ahead casserole recipes.

DON’T Order the Most Expensive Thing on the Menu Just Because the Company is Buying

Do not order that $90-a-pour scotch. Yes, the company’s paying, and yes, they have a lot of money, and yes, you have been putting in a lot of overtime and probably deserve some more recognition, but it’s just not a cool move. And it definitely ensures the company won’t be hosting any more of these types of events ever again.

DO Order Something That’s Just Above Your Price Range

If the company’s paying, go ahead and treat yo’ self to a Ketel & Cranberry, or a Patrón & Soda, or a New Zealand Pinot Noir instead of the house red. Save the well liquor for your own dime. Just keep your indulgences in check.

DON’T. Order. Shots.

This is a work outing, not a Russian dinner party.

DON’T Stay Longer Than Three Hours

Any more than that and you’ll risk violating at least one of these rules. Plus, don’t you have a fish/dog/cat/significant other/snake/lizard/needy neighbor/kombucha mother/succulent that you should be getting home to?

DON’T Turn Down a Shot

If someone else (especially your boss) happens to order a round of shots, you officially have our permission to take one. Plan your escape accordingly.