Cocktails & Contracts: Do they Mix?
                                By Chelse Benham

“Throw moderation to the winds, and ... reported on Thursday, January 15, 2004 in its article “Drink Greases
Global Business Bonds” that many professional...
Business etiquette is important and sometimes there are situations where you
may want to drink. A lot of organizations hav...
9. Traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine advocates hangovers be treated
       with a glass of water containing a teaspoon...
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Cocktails And Contracts Do They Mix


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Cocktails And Contracts Do They Mix

  1. 1. Cocktails & Contracts: Do they Mix? By Chelse Benham “Throw moderation to the winds, and the greatest pleasures bring the greatest pains.” - Democritus, (460-370 B.C.) best known for his atomic theory A circa 1116 B.C. Chinese imperial edict claimed that the use of alcohol in moderation was required by heaven. Three thousand years later alcohol is still the drug of choice. Social drinking is the number one acceptable drug of choice among Americans and it is the most commonly used and widely abused psychoactive drug in the country according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “U.S. business culture uses alcohol to promote business connections. Alcohol loosens you up and it can help you establish an initial relationship with someone you might otherwise have difficultly talking to,” said Miguel Lopez, program coordinator for The University of Texas-Pan American’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program. “Alcohol helps create a sense of belonging in a group, but this can also create a false sense of security. People lean on alcohol when they have less confidence in their social skills. They turn to ‘liquid power’ to be the type of person they may want to be, but don’t feel they are. This artificial sense of empowerment created by alcohol can have someone making alcohol their social process and not simply a part of the social process. This leads to abuse. The purpose of alcohol is as a facilitator in the socializing process where parameters and self-discipline restrict abuse and allow for a relaxing environment and physical condition.” Dr. Dwight B. Heath, professor of Anthropology at Brown University and the author of “Drinking Occasions: Comparative perspectives on Alcohol and Culture” found on The New England Journal of Medicine Web site at, provides a quick history for the prevailing attitudes of alcohol drinking in America. According to Heath, “Americans have a long history of ambivalence about the role of alcohol in their society. This vacillation turned to mayhem in 1919, when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution (later repealed) introduced Prohibition, which banned the manufacture and sale of alcohol nationwide. Today in the United States, a person legally becomes an adult at the age of 18: he or she becomes a citizen who can vote, serve in the military, sign a contract, marry, buy a gun, or buy a pack of cigarettes, but who cannot buy a beer or a glass of wine.” While it is restricted and prohibitive for minors to partake in the drinking of alcohol, the business environment all but pours it down the throats of professionals in social settings.
  2. 2. reported on Thursday, January 15, 2004 in its article “Drink Greases Global Business Bonds” that many professionals use alcohol to ease into business conversation and transaction. One CEO puts it succinctly. "There is tremendous pressure to indulge in alcohol on business-social occasions," said Fred Knapp, president and CEO of Frederick Knapp Associates Inc., New York-based providers of corporate leader development seminars. "It is a factor in building business relationships, or bonding." Knapp suggests that those who do not consume alcoholic beverages should have something that looks like one, or order a glass of wine and let it sit on the table. "At least be gracious to the point of ordering as part of the relationship-building process." Knapp said in the CNN article. Why is there so much pressure on alcohol consumption in a business setting? Michael Judge, reporter for the Wall Street Journal ( Web site, sums it up. “Drinkers mind if one among them is not drinking. Like death, drink is a great leveler. Sobriety immediately introduces a hierarchy. So that your attitude may be adjusted to fall in line with theirs, sometimes other people all but require you to drink,” Judge writes. But if you are determined not to, how can you maintain your social acceptability without coming across as smugly sober? How can you avoid being bullied into having "just one?” “By saying ‘no’ to drinking alcohol in a social setting you’re not participating so you’re an individual and not part of the crowd. This can make the people around you self-conscious and they may apply pressure on you to drink. It takes someone who is well centered with themselves to say ‘no’ against social pressures,” Lopez said. “The time and place may not feel right and therefore you may not want to drink. There are many reasons why a person may not want to drink such as religious reasons, being a recovering alcoholic, taking a medication that reacts to alcohol, being a designated driver or simply not liking to drink.” At “Job-Hunting Etiquette Quiz” gives definitive advice for interviewees during an on-site interview. The site clearly advises that “it is not okay to order a cocktail before the meal or wine with your meal even when everyone else is drinking. Don’t ever display any bad habits while on an interview. Avoid all alcoholic beverages while interviewing. And most experts say you should avoid smoking as well.”
  3. 3. Business etiquette is important and sometimes there are situations where you may want to drink. A lot of organizations have after hour functions where drinking is acceptable and encouraged. Little things like limiting yourself to only two drinks, or holding your drink in your left hand so that your right is not cold and wet when you are introduced to someone, are helpful tips when maneuvering through an event. If you choose to drink there are some things you can do to avoid getting drunk. The National Business Review at, suggests that when attending functions where alcohol is served, try to slow the rate at which alcohol will be absorbed into the body. NBR offers some tips for handling alcohol and the possible hangover it can create the morning afterwards. The site suggests the following: 1. Whenever possible eat at the same time as drinking. Protein and fat will take longer to digest than alcohol and sugar, so combining the two will slow down alcohol absorption. 2. Drink two glasses of water for every alcoholic drink. This prevents dehydration from setting in and extends the length of time between alcoholic drinks. 3. Remember that office or business related events are just that an extension of work. You will be seen and evaluated upon by the behavior you display, therefore it is wise to be conservative and use self-discipline when drinking. 4. Mingle and socialize. Engage in conversation and divert your attention to other things so that you can limit the speed of drinking and the desire of refilling your cocktail. 5. Try taking 1000mg of vitamin C before your first drink. Research from the Linus Pauling Institute found that when guinea pigs (who are similar to humans in their inability to synthesize their own vitamin C) were given large doses they experienced accelerated alcohol metabolism and improved liver function. 6. After a night of too much alcohol, try to stay awake as long as possible, rather than crashing into bed. While awake, the body is able to metabolize and break down alcohol more effectively than during sleep, when metabolism slows significantly. Taking a high-potency B complex tablet will speed breakdown of alcoholic byproducts. 7. A strong shot of caffeine-rich black coffee may seem appealing, but this is one time to resist the caffeine fix. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor and may help dull the head pounding, but it is also a potent diuretic and will add to the already problematic dehydration that is causing your head to ache. 8. Having a liquid breakfast may help speed recovery. Try a smoothie made from orange and pineapple juice, a whole kiwifruit, a tablespoon of brewer's yeast and a teaspoon of honey. Packed with B and C vitamins, this mixture will speed the breakdown of alcohol and support excretion of toxic residues.
  4. 4. 9. Traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine advocates hangovers be treated with a glass of water containing a teaspoon of lime juice, a half- teaspoon of sugar, a pinch of salt and half a teaspoon of baking soda. 10. Drink a cocktail of water, lemon juice and a drop of fennel essential oil before breakfast to help with a hangover. However, the easiest way to handle your alcohol is to exercise a little self-control and avoid a hangover in the first place. There is a place for alcohol in society, but alcohol’s presence at business and social settings can lead to unacceptable behavior if too much is imbibed. It comes down to self-control and responsible behavior. If you do not know or are not aware of the amount of alcohol you can handle it is best not to test your tolerance in an environment where your actions are scrutinized and evaluated. Play it safe with a plan of action. Make the decision to drink or not to drink and how much to drink before arriving at the venue. Stay true to yourself and your plans and keep everything in moderation. “Moderation in temper is always a virtue, but moderation in principle is always a vice.” - Thomas Paine, (1737-1809) American politician and author of the famous pamphlet “Common Sense”