As someone who’s attended (and hosted) well over 300 sex parties, I can safely say that being a little tipsy can enhance the overall experience. You may feel looser and more confident, or a little more comfortable in your skin. Bellying up to the bar also gives you something to do, which is particularly helpful in the early hours before the sex portion of the evening commences. Not to mention that grabbing a can or cocktail gives you an opportunity to flirt and get to know someone better before you get down to business. (You don’t just walk into a sex club, drop your pants, and start going to town with the first person you see.)

And, of course, sex after a couple of drinks can be a ton of goddamn fun. Still, drinking at sex parties isn’t the same as drinking at your regular dive or cocktail bar. There’s a sort of unspoken culture around how much and what to sip on at sex parties to guarantee that everyone is having a safe and pleasurable time. If you’re new to what swingers call “the lifestyle,” don’t worry — I’m here to break down the etiquette.

How can I drink responsibly at sex parties?

First things first: There is a fine line when it comes to drinking at sex parties, which makes enjoying responsibly the key to a good time. Imbibe a little, and your entire experience can be enhanced. Too much, and you won’t be able to read social cues or you’ll be too drunk to consent. Enthusiastic consent — often described as “anything that isn’t a ‘hell yes’ is a ‘hell no’”— is standard practice at sex parties to ensure the safety and comfort of everyone who comes to play.

Get the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.

“Consent is everything at a sex party,” explains Beth Sparksfire, director of events at Hacienda, which she describes as an “intentional community that celebrates sex.” This is why Hacienda has first-timers take an orientation course “where we remind them that ‘more sober equals more sexy equals more fun,’” Sparksfire says. Hacienda also enlists consent guardians at every party, and they can keep a watchful eye in case any attendees overindulge.

“We’ll tell them they need to take a break and drink some water,” she says. “If someone isn’t cooperative, responsible, or coherent, we’ll ask them to leave and help them get a car home if needed.”

Who’s providing the alcohol at a sex party?

It depends. More often than not, sex clubs are hosted at private residences and don’t have official liquor licenses. So, to get around that, they may have a BYOB policy: You bring your liquor, wine, beer, or whatever you’d like to drink and give it to the party’s bartenders. They’ll have you write your name on a piece of tape and slap it on the booze you brought, and they’ll then keep it safe behind the bar and serve it to you all night. Typically, the sex club will provide mixers, ice, and garnishes, so if you’re looking for mixed drinks or cocktails, you’ll just need to bring your choice of liquor. Some sex clubs enforce a two- or three-drink maximum, and when that’s the case, bartenders will tally your wristband after you order a drink, making you less likely to become too intoxicated.

Then, there are swankier (meaning pricier and more exclusive) functions that offer open bars with top-shelf liquor. Claudia Aguirre, the cofounder of Luxury Lifestyle Vacation, which runs sex resort takeovers across the globe, says that open bars are included in the cost of admission for their events.

“Popular drink choices can vary depending on personal taste and the event’s theme, but common favorites include a range of tequilas, cocktails, Champagne, and mixed drinks,” she says.

What are people typically drinking at sex parties?

As Aguirre notes, you’ll find a varied spread depending on the event, but many folks like to stick to beer, cider, or hard seltzers — something with a lower alcohol content that you can consistently drink slowly throughout the night without getting drunk. Michael, a 37-year-old New Yorker who’s attended sex parties for nearly a decade, says that he sticks to spiked seltzer at sex parties, “because they don’t give you bad breath, and the alcohol is consistent, unlike in mixed drinks.”

Brooklyn-based Ray, 31, who’s attended over 100 sex parties, says he prefers non-alcoholic beverages with electrolytes. “Alcohol can hinder my socialization, but also, my body normally gets sleepy after drinking, which is the last thing I want to do when I’m trying to [sexually] play,” he says. “I have experienced ‘whiskey dick’ before, and I have fears about my body not performing the way I want to, which can happen after a few drinks.”

As a bisexual man, I’ve been to straight and gay sex parties alike — something I write about extensively in my book “Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto.” At gay sex parties, where there’s the possibility of me bottoming (i.e. being the receptive anal partner), I’m not drinking much hard liquor. I don’t want anything upsetting my stomach or helping my digestive tract move a little too quickly, if you catch my drift. That said, I’m also not trying to fill myself up with beer. It makes me feel bloated, and can make me urinate frequently, which is a pain in the ass when I’m trying to stay erect and orgasm. While I take Rugiet Ready, an erectile dysfunction sublingual, to combat any whiskey dick, I don’t push my luck. There can be a lot of internal and external pressures to perform at sex parties, and with that many eyes on me, nerves — and alcohol — can get in the way.

Of course, these parties are about more than sex; they’re about community and meeting other like-minded kinksters. But yeah, sex parties are also about sex! That’s why I typically sip on a couple of mixed drinks, and that’s it.

I’m showing up to an orgy at a friend’s place. What should I bring?

Not all sex parties are at fancy mansions, beachfront resorts, dungeons, or dank basements. Once you’re in “the lifestyle” or part of “the community,” you’ll likely start getting invited to orgies, threesomes, and more — assuming people like you and your partner(s).

On the alcohol front, Michael brings spiked seltzers and cider to household orgies because “they’re easier to share with others.” You can quickly hand one off to someone instead of making them a cocktail or pouring shots. Ray likes to contribute non-alcoholic pre-made cocktails such as Curious Elixirs. He, too, brings extra to give friends and play partners, which is the takeaway here. It’s not so much about what you bring — it’s about bringing enough to share.