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How to Drink and Still Leave the Best Impression on a Date

By Hoku Krueger ; Updated February 03, 2017

Like chocolate-covered strawberries and red roses, champagne and other alcoholic bevs are ubiquitous on dates. A glass or two could help you to relax and enjoy your company, but one too many and your night might take some undesired turns.

It can be difficult to know just how much you should drink on a date, especially when you’re sitting for a meal or drinks. (Ever stand up a little too fast?) Dating experts weigh in on everything from the length of your date to the types of drinks you should order. So follow these dos and don’ts of drinking with that special someone if you’re wanting to score a second date.

Do: Set a Time Limit

One of certified dating expert Damona Hoffman’s No. 1 tips when it comes to alcohol on a date is to keep your evening short. “Unless you’re doing shots or something like that, it’s very hard to get sloppy drunk in an hour.”

Sometimes setting the right timeline can be enough to keep you on the right side of hammered.

Do: Limit Your Drinks

Go on your date prepared with a drinking plan. That means taking a few minutes beforehand to decide how many drinks you’re going to have that night. The right number is usually the one that provides a slight buzz but allows you to keep it under control. For the average-size woman it’s typically one to two.

“Once you get into that date setting and you start having the butterflies, the chemistry begins to develop and the endorphins turn on, then you start to let go of your inhibitions a little bit more and think, ‘Oh well, I’ll have one drink,’ and that’ll turn into two, then three,” and so on, Hoffman says.

Decide your number and, come hell or high water, stick to it. It helps to remember why you’re going on a date in the first place, according to dating coach Amie Leadingham.

“The intention is to see if this person across from you is a good fit for you,” she says. “It’s fine to have fun and all those things, but if you’re spending too much time on the fun instead of getting to know and connecting with the person on a deeper level, then it’s kind of a waste of time.”

For small women, aim for one to two drinks. For men, shoot for two to three. Check this blood alcohol concentration chart to calculate the amount of drinks that would be safe for you.

Don’t: Have Red Wine, Cheap Beer or Cocktails

While red wine may seem like a classy option for a date, know that it will stain your teeth and possibly ruin your outfit if your jitters get the best of you. Hoffman’s article on what to drink on date night also urges you to stay away from cocktails, since you can’t be sure of the amount of alcohol that’s in it (especially if the bartender’s got an eye for you).

Also avoid cheap beers. “Just getting a plain old pitcher of beer translates to your date as a lack of taste or sophistication,” she writes. For similar reasons, turn down any shots.

Do: Have White Wine, Beer or Liquor Served Neat

White wine can signify class and has a lower alcohol content than liquor. Leadingham suggests ordering a white wine spritzer. “That way you can maybe have two and then it’s not so heavy on you, and you’re still replenishing yourself with some type of water,” she says.

If you’re not a wino, opt for a craft beer. “It shows a little bit of class if you know a particular microbrew … that you’re paying attention and that you’re an insider in your city of region,” she says.

Lately, Hoffman notes, straight whiskey has been a popular choice of many bar patrons. Even though whiskey has a high alcohol content, you know what pour you’re getting (around three ounces, or two shots) unlike when you order a cocktail.

“If you get it neat or even just on the rocks, it shows a little bit of culture and sophistication,” she says.

Don’t: Drink Coffee to Sober Up

There’s science behind the saying “Don’t break the seal.” Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that “it acts on the kidneys to make you pee out much more than you take in,” professor Oliver James, head of clinical medical sciences at Newcastle University, tells Drink Aware.

Well, coffee, which a lot of people think helps kill the buzz, is also a diuretic, meaning that it promotes dehydration, according to founder of Inspire Malibu Akikur Mohammad, M.D. “Instead of reducing the effects of alcohol, it will only make for a wide-awake drunk.”

Don’t: Drink Your Dinner Calories

This isn’t college anymore. Make sure you eat during the date, even if it means getting spaghetti and meatball stains on your shirt. According to Mohammad, eating is the best way to offset the effects of alcohol. So it’s always best to have some food in your stomach while drinking, even if it means pre-gaming pizza instead of booze or stopping at a burger joint after dinner.

Do: Drink All the Water and Dance the Night Away

Mohammad recommends drinking one glass of water for every drink that you have. Think of this as the new drink matching. It’ll decrease the effects of alcohol on your body and help to offset dehydration.

And if your partner asks you for a dance, say yes. “Physical activity, such as dancing, while drinking can sometimes speed up the metabolic rate,” Mohammad says.

Don’t: Give In to Peer Pressure

The night is going well. You and your date have amazing chemistry and you’ve followed your drinking plan. You think you’re ready to wrap up, but your partner says that he or she wants to order another round. What do you do?

“You never have to do or say something that you’re not comfortable with,” Hoffman advises. Suggest instead that you get another drink next time. “Then that sets it up for the second date and lets the person know that you’re having a really great time with them.”

But if you want to linger, order a seltzer or mocktail. That way, you can continue to enjoy your company and rehydrate.

Do: Be Authentic

Whether you love to drink or never do, be yourself. Don’t pretend that you hate red wine when you have a glass every night, and don’t pretend you drink when you haven’t touched alcohol since The Incident. You want to present your authentic self to the person sitting across from you in order to establish a connection based on truth. That way, you can start your relationship on a strong foundation.

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