Booze 101

By LUKE O'NEIL  |  September 26, 2012

"One of the first rules of drinking smarter, not harder is to know what ABV [alcohol by volume] is and how it relates to your wallet," explains John Richard, owner of the Avery Bar & Lounge in Providence. "First off, remember that getting wasted proves that you're probably not ready to drink in public. That being said, if you'd like your drinking dollar to go farther, read up on the ABV of what you're drinking. For spirits it's also expressed as the "proof' of the spirit. One hundred proof is 50 percent ABV."

Better quality beers and spirits tend to have a higher ABV, but they're also going to slow down your pounding instinct. "If you're drinking a better beer, paying a little more money, beer that has flavor, or a better whiskey, first of all it's going to cost more to get hammered. Secondly, it just doesn't lend itself to drinking like that," says Collins. "You're more likely to drink more responsibly and more slowly if you're drinking better stuff."

Not sure what any of that stuff means, or even what whiskey or gin actually are? Ask, ask, ask.

"If you want to learn how to drink and what to drink, go to a good bar during a slower time of day [late afternoon, early evening] and ask questions," says Richard. "You may have to stray away from campus to find a place that doesn't have shot specials and blender drinks. Let the bartender know that you're looking for advice. Don't be embarrassed about a lack of experience and don't try to impress the bartender with your extensive knowledge. You'll make a fool of yourself."

An added bonus is that once you have the info under your belt, you'll actually look like someone who knows about things when you're ordering. Learn about at least one type of drink, whether it's whiskey, tequila, or a style of craft beer. Don't hold forth on it like you're giving a lecture, but others will notice you're a person of taste.

"Spirits knowledge is king," says Di Stasi. "You can use it as a topic of conversation on a date to break the ice. It's a good way to circumvent overly serious conversations and it also will show that you know your stuff. When you're out with your friends, impart some wisdom. You never know . . . It may get you a free drink out of one of them. Who wouldn't want to be known as the most interesting man in the world?"

Drink, don't get drunk

The purpose of drinking is not to get drunk — it's to enhance a social experience. You know who drinks to get drunk? Fucking bums and losers and people who become cocktail journalists — you don't want that, trust me.

"Drinking to get wasted is a rookie mistake," says Di Stasi. "If you don't learn from your mistakes, then you're not progressing. Act like you've been there before. It'll go a long way with the opposite sex. You don't want to be known as 'that guy' or the sloppy girl. And most importantly, safety should always be your number one priority. Making the 'physically unable to stand' list is no bueno."

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