There was a point in time when I was considered by my teenage peers as an alcohol lightweight. I distinctly remember a house party, where one blonde kid named Jon took aim at my vulnerable state, which to my defence was actually more about being hyper than full-on intoxication. To my circle of friends, the name, "Reggie Two Can" was born -- presumably because I only had one or two drinks and got wasted. Boy, did that nickname stick longer than I had hoped.
This juvenile assumption set the tone as I entered into my 20s, exploring the bottoms of glasses from university frat parties to after-work happy hours. One of the bright sides of boozy repetition was building a high tolerance, which helped with keeping composure socially despite the high volume of alcohol induced (and wasted dollars spent on unimpressive drink choices). The downside is, well, let's just say I could write a whole book on this personal experience alone.
I thankfully left the chugging contests for more professional settings. As I now reach my mid-30s, one thing I took away from the open bar events and mid-day networking over beers is to stay composed under the influence. Transitioning from being part of the workforce to leading the workforce, a congested schedule is no place for hugging toilets and lewd behaviour. I'm happy to admit I can't remember the last time I felt like I had too much to drink. Although I did learn that gearing down and keeping your alcohol intake minimal after building such a high tolerance makes each drink way more powerful than expected. So when the second or third round of drinks come along, I start treading a bit lighter.
One of the first suggestions I would make for those looking to have full recollection while out networking with a drink in hand: you need to understand how much your body can handle. You need to understand how much of this potent yet delicious stuff can sit in your body.
To the marketers: think of it like A/B testing, experimenting on your tolerance. It may take time and patience (and a shiny nickel or two), but each session you have will help you understand the range your body is willing to endure. The work of the human liver is very predictable in terms of the length of time alcohol swims through the body, and there are quite reliable methods to calculate how much time alcohol stays in your system.
A George Washington University study confirmed that effects and levels of alcohol in the body depend on a number of factors, including body size/weight, type of alcohol consumed, metabolic rate and food intake. In reality, nothing can really help sober you up from an intoxicated state, so it's better to stay clear of your car completely and get a lift from a sober friend or take an Uber instead.
I know few will read this and think something along the lines of "What? Drinking coffee sobers me up every time! This is a bunch of hooey!" Truth is, none of those fix-it-quick schemes your friends tried to stuff down your throat actually worked -- and by the way, no one really says "hooey" anymore. Regardless, any feeling of sober-ment experienced from drinking coffee is actually just a trick caffeine plays on your mind, a mental boost which doesn't actually lower your blood alcohol concentration. If that were truly the case, Starbucks would be open 24 hours a day and have banked a trillion dollars by now.
Also, there doesn't seem to be a particular type of food that will assist the process the most, as a 2001 study by the University of Indiana confirmed that food will help alcohol process through your body just a bit faster, however it will not "reverse" the alcohol content of that half-bottle of vodka. It's always a good idea to eat a solid meal before drinks, especially if you expect an extended evening ahead.
The study found that although there is no particular type of food that makes the process faster, it is just beneficial to have something in your stomach and intestines. So the lesson here is never to take a round of shots on an empty stomach, no matter who you're trying to impress.
While you may not be able to do much while you're already heavily intoxicated, the real key is to plan ahead.
Keep hydrated and snack a lot, especially if the sun is still up. It's common knowledge at this point that drinks straight on an empty stomach without water is pretty much an early death sentence, so I suggest having a glass of water between each drink, especially the mixed kind.
I hate being the guy that says "don't do this, don't do that." In an effort to avoid being Mr. Buzzkillington, there are certain drinks I would recommend sticking to -- namely, light-coloured beers and single, not double, mixed drinks that don't have tequila or whisky in the ingredients list. No seriously, save the heavy hitters for when you're ready to forget an evening (or two).
Before you jump for the standard bar rail selections, you may want to have a go-to choice that won't catch you off guard. When I'm not in the beer kind of mood, I sometimes opt for a Citadelle or Sipsmith and tonic, or in preparation for Rio 2016, I like having the unique option of a Caipirinha with Pitú Cachaça -- something that has been suggested a lot this summer. Just remember to pace yourself -- this ain't a race, my friend!
If beer does you better, choose light ales like lagers and craft beers, or try seasonals to change it up and test new waters. I've had good experience hitting the afternoon heat with a Polish Tyskie lager or a Muskoka Detour for crafts. Pints provide volume, so you don't end up hitting the bottom of the glass sooner than expected, and it is, of course, extremely refreshing as hell on a hot patio.
As we hit the halfway point of summer, the sheer number of alcohol-induced events and networking opportunities will continue its stride straight into the fall. Remember to keep yourself within the limits your body has preset -- because nobody wants to be around the loud guy with the work-tie wrapped around his forehead.
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