5 Rules For the Recently Legal Drinker

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Let’s face it—you’ve quite possibly been drinking illegally for years. Your friend’s older brother overcharged you for a six-pack in high school, and your college bar simply did not require identification. But once you turn 21, that begins to change. Your days of drinking cheap beer and even cheaper liquor are numbered.

We’ve all heard the old expressions like “experience can be merely the repetition of same error often enough” or “good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” There’s certainly some truth to these sayings, but sometimes good advice trumps bad judgment. Let these rules help you skip some of the bad decisions everyone is bound to make—for your sake and for ours.

DO: Avoid Heavy Artillery

That means no rounds of shots and no bombs at the bar. If Jägermeister has been your drink of choice, it’s probably time to try the German digestif without it being messily plopped into a Red Bull. (Irish coffee should really be your caffeinated drink of choice now anyway). Sake is better sipped, and doing tequila shots at a bar can only take you down a dangerous path.

DON’T: Forget to Stay Hydrated

You aren’t drinking four (five? six?) nights a week anymore. That means your tolerance has gone downhill fast. It’s important to drink water throughout the night if you want to stay upright. Your mind, body and soul will thank you the next morning when your hangover isn’t as debilitating.

DO: Prepare

Get to know your spirits. Research the difference between whisk(e)y and bourbon. Learn the recipes for basic cocktails like Daiquiris and Old Fashioneds and impress your friends with your mixology skills. Think of it as studying for a very fun chemistry exam, except this test has no wrong answers. When it’s time to read a menu at a bar, you can confidently make an informed decision on your order because you already know what ingredients like Angostura bitters, Chartreuse and Cointreau are.

DO: Treat the Bartender Right

A dollar a drink or a “I’ll get you next time” won’t cut it anymore. College bars have a completely different feel from upscale places serving craft cocktails, and pissing off a bartender early on can mean awful (or no) service for the rest of the night. There are some talented people out there who are mixing up seven-ingredient cocktails that cost more than a pitcher of beer at your old spot. Don’t presumptuously wave your credit card in these bartenders’ faces. Instead, maybe even offer to buy them a drink once in awhile. Bartenders rely on tips, and tipping 20 percent on your tab should be the absolute, bare minimum.

DON’T: Act Like You’re Still in College

Simply put, this means it’s time to behave. Don’t upset the regulars, who just want to relax with a drink without being surrounded by obnoxious young drunks. Control the volume of your voice, and don’t join other people’s conversations—unless they seem really friendly. Limit your Long Island Iced Teas, don’t hog the jukebox and, please, no chugging races—and absolutely no throwing up in the bathroom. It’s also time to dress up a little bit: no more tank tops, shorts and snapbacks. Drinking as an adult can be a lot of fun and a great way to let off a little steam—just make sure you don’t ruin someone else’s night.

(Photo courtesy www.skylersigns.com)

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