Cocktail straws are designed for optimal annoyance. They’re too small to drink out of, they are great at poking you in the face, they leave liquid stains when you take them out of a drink and they are everywhere.
What is a person to do with that pesky straw? Pretty much whatever you want, as long as you can handle the consequences of your actions.
Peggy Post, an etiquette expert at the Emily Post Institute, told Good Housekeeping that you can use a straw to sip your drink or to stir your drink — unless it’s in a nice glass. In that case get rid of the thing. On the other hand, Ria Soler, a former sommelier at The Breslin and The John Dory told Esquire that a gentleman should “never drink through a straw, unless it’s a Piña Colada.”
But if you follow Soler’s advice, you’re disregarding the proclivities of the gentleman who invented the modern straw in the first place nearly 130 years ago. Up until the late 1800s, American men drank their drinks — most of which were alcohol — through straws made out of tubes of rye, The Atlantic writes. Get it? Straw.
Rye leaves some grassy notes and some rye residue, though, which is fine in some whiskey-drinking cases but is really distracting when it comes to enjoying the taste of something light or herbal.
Enter Mr. Martin Chester Stone. Stone lived in Washington, D.C. in the 1880s and decided something had to be done about the rye straw problem while he was sipping on a Mint Julep. He wrapped some paper around a pencil and then glued the paper together. Glue was (thankfully) just the start, and by 1888, Stone patented a machine to twist paper into a tube and coat it in wax. The American drinking experience hasn’t been the same since.
Presently, the National Park Service writes on its blog, Americans use 500 million drinking straws every day. That includes paper straws, plastic straws, bendy straws, Krazy straws and those ever- present, tiny black cocktail straws.
So what to do? Here are your options.
Fold it over the edge of the glass
Bend that sucker over and keep it out of your face. You’ll have to hold it down the whole time you drink, but it gives you something to do with your hands.
Take the straw out
Put it on a napkin and throw it away immediately. There’s nothing cool about putting a dripping straw on the table only to leave a sticky mess.
Stir your drink
Your bartender already made your drink the way that it’s supposed to be drunk. But go ahead, swirl that ice cube around in circles if you want. Just know you won’t be able to sip from the glass in peace.
Give up and drink from it
Accept that you can never win and use cocktail straws for their natural purpose. Ancient Sumerians were drinking their beer out of straws in 3000 B.C., so alcohol straw drinking culture is basically intrinsic human culture. Contrary to hopeful thinking though, drinking out of a straw won’t get you more drunk, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.