Let me start by being clear - I'm not talking about drinking a long lunch on a Friday and going back to the office, keeping your head down and doing as little as possible until the weekend comes. You're not Karen Walker (if only...).
When you reach a certain point in your career, having a cocktail or other adult beverage with work colleagues or bosses is not only acceptable, it's expected, and learning to do so without getting sloppy in front of executives is actually a good skill to master. It may sound silly, but it will come in handy in the corporate world to be able to have a drink with the bigwigs and still manage to maintain your composure. There are a few handy tricks to keep in mind.
1. Have a go-to drink. You don't want to go into this situation and ask for something you've never had before. You also don't want to ask for a fuzzy navel or appletini and look ridiculous. What you drink will say something about you. I often order scotch, and believe it or not, I've had some meaningful conversations with C-suite executives solely because they thought it was intriguing. However, and I cannot overstate this, DO NOT choose an outing with the big boss the first time you choose to order it. You will make an ugly face, look stupid, and waste his or her money on something you won't drink.
2. Choose something you won't get drunk on. Bartenders refer to low-alcohol drinks as "sessionable", drinks that are meant for enjoying over a period of time without packing much of a punch. Drinks with bitters fall into this category, such as a Negroni or an Americano, but as the name implies, it can be a bit sour. Again, try it before you take it out for a spin during a company date.
3. Don't get too fancy. When in doubt, a simple glass of wine is perfectly fine. You don't need to impress anyone with your drink choice, and it shows you're willing to participate in the ritual without taking it to fraternity party levels. Fun but responsible - that's what we're going for. This will also come in handy for your international company meals, where consumption of alcohol isn't just polite, but a symbolic gesture. When the choice is to drink or insult your host, you drink. Intersperse your drinking with sips of cold water and you'll be fine.
Of course, if you're committed to this lifestyle and treating yourself as well as you should be, you should keep your liquor cabinet stocked with Friday Night Treats. These are the libations that I like to enjoy when the kids have gone to bed and it's finally Mami Time. A Macallan 12 is a nice way to celebrate the end of the work week, and keep my liver conditioned for whatever life may throw at it. If you'd like to check out last Friday's treat, head over to my Instagram @advancingtogether.
*Note: This is all predicated on the fact that you should never abuse alcohol, and you're automatically given a pass on all this if you feel you can't imbibe responsibly. I've seen careers ruined by alcohol. Not worth it.