There are plenty of reasons people go out for drinks on a first date. It’s less intimidating than having dinner. It’s sexier than grabbing coffee. You can easily cut things short or go a little longer, because each round of drinks is another chance to cut your losses or buy back into the game. To top it all off, imbibing a couple of adult beverages eases your nerves and helps the conversation flow more freely, right? That’s true if you’re doing it right. Having one too many, however, might destroy your filter, derail the evening, and send you hurtling toward an embarrassing finale. To avoid this disastrous outcome, here are a few tips and tricks on how to dial in — and maintain — that perfect level of tipsiness on a first date.
Low tolerance? Order wisely
For those who swig in the lightweight category, it’s particularly important not to overdo it. So what to do if you’re having a good time and want to keep the date rolling? Should you risk another drink? You could switch over to water, but that’s not nearly as delicious or fun. If you stop drinking while your date soldiers on, you run the risk of making him feel a little self-conscious. Try sticking to low-ABV options so you can allow yourself to enjoy another round or two with your date, while still keeping your head above water. Look for session beers (5 percent or less ABV), gentle aperitifs like the Aperol Spritz, or cocktails made with soju to keep your head steady and the conversation sparkling. And make sure you eat something before you arrive!
High tolerance? Get a head start
If you carry a very high tolerance, you’ve got the opposite problem. You don’t want to start guzzling drinks in front of your date in order to get yourself lubricated. Still, if you take it slow, your iron liver may never allow you to arrive at the comfortable buzz you need to tame your anxiety. So: Consider throwing yourself a little pre-party and have a drink before the date begins. It’s a win-win: A primer drink will take the edge off, and it will shift your baseline so you can start to feel that warm glow while drinking at a slower speed. Especially if your date has a less- stalwart tolerance than you do, this is a great way to level the field of intoxication.
Always have a glass of water
You surely know the rule of thumb by now: For every glass of booze, have a glass of water. It will help pace your drinking. It will help you stay hydrated. It will help ensure you wake up feeling great the next morning. Additionally, think about those inevitable awkward lulls in the conversation. When they appear, what do you do? You both pick up your glasses and take a sip while you regroup, of course. Keep a glass of water on hand so you have the option to alternate between booze and H2O. If you’re a frequent sipper, this could save you from doom and ruin.
Dear God. Unless you’re both die-hard drinkers looking for a one-night stand, nix the shots.
Ask your bartender for a little help
Because you’re a dating genius, I’m going to assume that you’ve already chosen a bar with the perfect crowd level: busy enough that the bartender doesn’t hear your entire conversation, but slow enough that you don’t have to fight for the bartender’s attention. If you’ve nailed this balance, then here’s a thought: Show up a few minutes early, give the bartender a tip, and ask for an assist. Explain that you’re on a date and you want to stay lucid, so would your bartender mind making your drinks half-strength for the evening? If the bar is busy, though, please don’t ever bother your poor bartender with a special request like this. Also, find a less-busy bar for your date, you novice.
Have a friend play referee
Ask one of your friends to be on call for the evening. Then, make a rule that toward the end of each round, you’re going to excuse yourself to the bathroom. When you do, you must text or call your referee to check in. This serves two purposes: 1. If you want the date to continue, you have to verify that you’re not too intoxicated to have another drink. 2. If the date has become a disaster, tell your friend to call you back in a few minutes with an emergency. Then get the hell out of there.
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, a whiskey-pounding powerhouse or a dainty sipper of bubbly, the last thing you want to be on your first date is a drunken mess. But a sober mess is just as bad, so figure out which techniques work for you and stick to them. Then you can glide through your next date like a champ, equipped with a shining smile and a perfectly calibrated buzz.
What are some of your tips and tricks for first dates?