Since we’re a week away from the biggest drinking holiday of the year (St. Patrick’s Day) it only seemed appropriate to write an article about the whole culture of drinking in the business world. Now, it goes without saying that each business has different attitudes towards alcohol in the place of employment. To some offices the only time having drink is acceptable is at the once a year holiday party, and even still there’s that general feeling of discomfort regarding being looked upon as the office lush. For other businesses, alcohol is a normal part of networking and participants are encouraged to bring a beverage of choice to contribute.
So, if you’re invited to a business dinner or networking event and encouraged to being a beverage to contribute, what in the world should you elect to bring? Here are some thoughts on what your beverage of choice says about you!
This varies widely depending on the type of wine you choose to bring. Did you bring a box of wine? If you did some eyebrows are definitely going to be raised, not only in regards to the sheer quantity of alcohol you felt was necessary to bring, but also in regards to your level of cheapness. The same really can be said for a jug of Carlos Rossi.
On the other hand, if you show up with a $100 bottle of French wine this might come across as trying too hard. Then again, it really depends on the scene. If you’re attending a small networking event for nonprofits a $20 bottle of something with decent flavor is ideal. If you’re networking with millionaires in the Hamptons you’ll really want to step your game up. In either case, try to avoid bringing wine if you know nothing about wine. Wine snobs can be very prevalent in the business world and you don’t want to bring something undrinkable. Another hot tip for bringing wine is to speak with the wine expert at your local wine shop. They are always more than helpful and eager to discuss the proper option for the type of event you are attending.
Bringing spirits (or hard liquor as most of us call it) can be a rather tricky play. Unless you’re going to be bringing mixers and stirring up some top notch cocktails, there is rarely an occasion in which showing up with a bottle of 80 proof booze is appropriate. There are only a couple exceptions that come to mind. The first is if you are in fact attending a cocktail party. In which case, do a little a research first about to mix a drink the right way. Not only will this make the drinking experience a lot more pleasant for this involved, your skills might also earn you some points in the eyes of those in the room.
Another situation that might be okay for spirits is a business celebration that calls for something strong. This is especially relevant if your boss is known to love a quality bottle of scotch or something classy like that. As with wine, be sure you know a little about the scotch before you buy it; price really does make a difference on this one.
Beer can sometimes be looked at as classless, but today’s microbrewery scene has somewhat elevated the status of this beverage. Bringing a 6 pack or a few 22s of craft beer suggests that you are down to Earth; a normal person but with good taste. If this is the look you are going for, be sure to select your beer options carefully as even the type of beer you choose says something about you. For example, an IPA drinker is someone with a real commitment to beer as this is one hoppy brew. On the other hand, if you show up with a saison expect to be seen as someone who likes a fruity drink. And never, never bring something as cheap as Budweiser or (God forbid) Pabst Blue Ribbon. Unless of course, you like to be seen as cheap.
If you’re showing up to a business event with champagne in hand it had best either be New Years Eve or some other celebratory event. Champagne isn’t meant for casual outings, even if it is your most favorite drink in the world. Of course, if we’re talking brunch than champagne and orange juice are a great option. But popping open a bottle of champagne over a small business dinner might make you look a little over exuberant.
In the end, drinking in the business world is about moderation and quality over quantity. Alcohol can be a great social lubricant at networking events, but you don’t want to tarnish your reputation by getting out of hand with it. Choose a beverage that your comfortable with; something that you don’t mind suggesting to others. In summation, stay classy!