Overachieving Women Who Drink Too Much

Overachieving Women Who Drink Too Much

2017 Update: We still stand by this advice about overachieving women who drink too much, but you may also want to check out our more recent discussion of women lawyers and drinking.

As we mentioned on Friday, we’ve been curious about the recent story on Gothamist, “Overachieving Women Will Drink You Under the Table,” in part because so many of you “liked” the story once we posted it to Facebook (and amazingly, not one of the six is one of our drinking buddies!)

Looking more closely at the reports, the study notes that “The more educated women are, the more likely they are to drink alcohol on most days and to report having problems due to their drinking patterns . . . . The better-educated appear to be the ones who engage the most in problematic patterns of alcohol consumption.”  We have a few thoughts on this, which we’ll try to put in a cohesive order, but we’re primarily curious to hear from you:  1)  Do you drink to excess? 2)  Why do you think that is?  3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?  (3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?  Fine, and 3c:  what do you toast to?)  4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it? (For right now, let’s just talk about alcohol, although we suspect a thread on prescription drugs might also be in order.) (Pictured:  New York City, 17 May 08, originally uploaded to Flickr by flickr4jazz.)

overachieving women talk about drinking too much - picture of a blue martini from Kat's weddingFirst, on drinking during one’s downtime (weekends, evenings, vacations, whatever): We’ve been mulling it over in our heads since reading the article, in large part because — why yes! — this author (and most of her overachieving friends, particularly those from law school) have been known to overindulge here or there during personal time. Is it because we are stressed out from our day jobs and need help unwinding? Is it because we drink to “reward” ourselves for all of our hard work during the week? As one of our commenters on the Friday post wondered, is it a chicken and egg syndrome — are women who are more likely to overindulge also more likely to become overachievers? Is there a competitive aspect to drinking — if we are competitive people, are we more likely to drink competitively as well? How much does money play into it? For example: if you go to nicer bars, a) there are often more options for specialized cocktails (as seen by the mixology craze in NYC), and b) if you are served better liquor, there are less repercussions — for example, a cheap gold-colored tequila will presumably leave you with a much worse hangover than if you’re drinking a quality clear-colored tequila, like Patron Silver — which in turn means that, without the hangover to “teach” you not to drink so much, you continue to do it. (Pictured at right:  the signature cocktail I served after my wedding ceremony.)

(We suspect the actual “answer” to this phenomenon is probably a very unsexy, sensical one: women who are “overachievers” frequently have children later in life, which means that they have a) more disposable income and b) less real responsibility. (This would also mean that they’ve never had to take a “break” from drinking, as required by that whole, you know, pregnancy and breastfeeding thing.)  This was noted by the authors of the study, as well.)

Second, on drinking at work functions: Obviously, one should not drink heavily drink at work functions. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drink — in fact, as commenters noted on the Friday post, not drinking often raises more eyebrows than drinking does.  (We agree with the commenters:  please do not be that person who asks people: why aren’t you drinking? Also, ladies who don’t drink — any tips or experiences you’d like to share re: not drinking?)  Which, we suppose, means that you are best advised to get a glass — of anything — and hold onto it throughout the night. (Or, at the very least, practice a 1:1 rule — one glass of wine/liquor, one glass of water or soda.)  (While we’re giving advice:  please, please do not post pictures of yourself drunk on Facebook. Do not let your friends post pictures of you drunk.  Yesssss, sure, you look adorable and yessss, sure, it’s hilarious.  Strangely enough, though, that prospective employer or the employer looking to make cuts doesn’t think so.)

Finally, on drinking at the office: I remember being very surprised, years ago, when a former colleague casually admitted to regularly  drinking at her office desk, in that “home stretch” from 7pm – quittin’ time.  I don’t think she drank to excess, but still, it really shocked me — perhaps because I had always had a rule against drinking alone, but perhaps because she was so successful and well-regarded at the job.  Obviously, this kind of thing happened all the time in the Mad Men era — but does it still happen now?  What has your experience been?

Social media images of blue martini: Katfry LLC, all rights reserved. overachieving women and drinking

Corporette readers discuss studies that show there are many overachieving women who drink too much, & share their experiences in male-dominated offices and professions.


  1. I have never liked the taste of alcohol enough to drink to excess. Sorry.

  2. Lotta questions there. 1) Do you drink to excess? Yes.
    2) Why do you think that is? Combo of liking the taste, liking the effect of the drink, and so forth. Unwinding/stress relief is definitely part of it.
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? During a school night: If we’re drinking, splitting a bottle of wine with the hubby. During a weekend night: having a few martinis, then splitting a bottle of wine (or, um, 2) with the hubby or other friends.
    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer? Love clear tequila, Hendricks gin. Also a fan of a good Malbec, Rioja, Zinfandel, Shiraz, or other red wine.
    3c: what do you toast to? Nothing particular. Usually to good friendships or a great marriage. Occasionally to work success, occasionally to work defeats.
    4: On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it? Yes, we have. We’ve stopped drinking daily and, having realized that we CAN do that, stopped worrying about it beyond that.

    • trial lawyer :

      Ditto, but after our going dry experiment I’ve cut back to one glass of wine per “school night.”

      I also do a lot of after work happy hours with friends and business folks. 1 – 2 glasses of wine at those events.

      Hard liquor is just too risky and I can’t navigate happy hour handshakes with those silly martini glasses, so it’s red wine for me.
      I don’t drink anything “girlie” at work events — no cosmos, no white wine, no spritzers, nothing fruity.

      • No white wine? Yikes, can we discuss this more? I don’t really like red, but can certainly drink it if it’s deemed much more appropriate.

        • I’m also curious as to whether other people attach a stigma to white wine. I greatly prefer red wine, but generally drink white wine at business functions because it’s easier to navigate — ie, doesn’t stain your lips or teeth awkwardly while you’re trying to have a serious conversation.

          Anyone else have a different take on this? Tips for red wine not staining lips/teeth (that is, if you are a generally light-lipped gal like me… I recognize this may be less of an issue for people who wear a lot of dark lipstick…)?

          • As someone who has had red wine spilled all over my beige Brooks Brothers suit by a very drunk summer associate — I see no stigma in white wine.

          • RIP nice suit… :-(

          • trial lawyer :

            Let me clarify. I like white wine, but have been mocked a few times for ordering it. I practice and hence drink with “manly men” types and I’m a rare woman. When I’m out with other “lady lawyers” I drink white or red or whatever.

            Thoughts on appropriateness of drinking a beer at a work-related function? I rarely see women do it, but I do love beer.

          • Really curious Kat, was that summer associate offered a job at the end of the summer?!

          • I should clarify that I was a summer associate also when this happened. This was at the after party (maybe the after-after-party — we had them in those days) and I think it was primarily just the summer associates. The red-wine-spiller was one of my best friends at the time, so I kept quiet about the spill — went from looking down at my suit in utter shock to grabbing her arm and her bag and dragging her to a taxi to get her out of there. She was offered a job at the end of the summer.

          • I think that generally speaking wine is seen as more girly, beer as casual, mixed drinks (cocktails) as even girlier (especially the ones that you have to give a recipe to the bartender for him to make it), and straight liquor is seen as impressive… Not right, but those are the attitudes out there…

            I haven’t noticed a difference between people’s attitudes toward white and red wine, but I don’t drink red wine (migraines), so it never even occcurred to me

        • Legally Brunette :

          I think white wine is considered more of a girly drink because it’s lighter than red wine, more sweet, etc. I’m particularly thinking of wines like a Riesling or a Gewurtzdemeiner (sp). I can’t imagine that there is a stigma to it though, people at my firm are pretty evenly split btw white and red wine at happy hours. But I’m a red wine girl myself, I just like it better.

          • I’m also a red kind of girl, but I tend to drink white wines at events in case of any accidents: I don’t want to worry about anyone knocking my elbow and ruining either my dress or someone else’s outfit. I consider it defensive drinking.

        • It depends. I get a little judgy of people who only drink sweet drinks. So if you’re ordering a sweet dessert wine because it’s yummy, I’m probably lumping you in with all the chocolate and apple “martini” drinkers. If you know wines and you order intelligently, no problem with ordering white. And of course if you are eating a meal you should order whichever wine goes well with your food.

      • Anonymous :

        Funny – I much prefer red over white, but only drink white at work events so as to avoid purple teeth.

        • I rarely drink, but when I do I’m a beer in a bottle kinda girl. I currently work in mfg, so for the rare work function its not a problem. I’m also a 1L at night. Is there a stigma in ordering just a beer in the law world?

          • I don’t know if there is a stigma to ordering a beer, but I’ve never seen it done outside of a bbq or casual in-office event. (I’m a lawyer.)

            On the red versus white debate, I am a red wine drinker 95% of the time, but when I’m at a work function, I go for white wine for the reasons that people have mentioned–and know men who do the same. Although I tease my mom about white wine being girly, the real issue is what she drinks; I have never truly though that white wine was girly, except perhaps when I was still learning to appreciate wine.

          • I hope not. I’m a beer in a bottle girl too. And I’m a litigator in BigLaw. I think it looks sillier to order something you obviously don’t like to try to look more sophisticated (of course, if you like it, go for it). That said, I wouldn’t ever order a pink wine or a fruity cocktail at a work function.

          • I’ve seen both men and women ordering beer at many a work funciton – maybe b/c I’m in the midwest, but I don’t think anyone would bat an eye. At nicer events, the bartender will put it in a glass.

          • Bah. I’m a girl, and I’m the first one to order a Guinness or drink out of a beer bottle at a work function. I like beer better than wine. There is nothing wrong with ordering beer in the law world.

          • Maybe it depends on your practice or city, but I think a lot of my colleagues drink beer. I wouldn’t think twice about it.

          • I’m definitely curious about how to respond to questions about not drinking. I don’t drink for religious reasons (Muslim, but I don’t wear hijab so it’s not “obvious” that I’m Muslim), and I am not particularly interested in “hiding” the fact that I don’t drink. I just drink Diet Coke or juice or whatever suits my fancy that day. But people do often notice. When people ask, I generally go out of my way to explain why (socially, too, but especially at work-related or networking functions) because I don’t want people to assume that I’m pregnant. Is this the right approach? I don’t want people to make assumptions about me (young, newly married), but I also don’t want to come across as judge-y or a religious nut.

          • Anonymous :

            Im not drinking (part of my low cal, low carb diet). I just drink alot of diet coke, with a lemon or lime, and no one ever says a word.

          • @ MM – it’s sort of a rude question and people shouldn’t ask why you don’t drink, but if you don’t mind answering, a simple “oh, I’m Muslim, actually” is the best response. I think you’re right that some people would speculate that you’re pregnant, and if you just answered “for religious reasons” you’d either get follow up questions or people would wonder if you’re Mormon, which probably brings with it even more undeserved prejudices than being Muslim does. But I don’t think you need any explanation beyond a short, honest answer.

  3. One note on that study–the “overachieving” subjects only had to have a college degree…so the headline was terribly misleading in a world where having a B.A. is practically a prerequisite to obtaining any non-retail/restaurant/hospitality job.

    As for the questions, I don’t think I drink excessively. Most of the time I have a glass or two of wine (weekday or weekend). If I go out to a bar/club I might have 3 drinks, but rarely more–mostly because of the cost. (I would rather spend my money on clothes!)

    As for the reason for the phenomenon, I think it is a combination of disposable income/little non-work responsibility and dealing with the stresses of work. I know that my glass of wine can easily turn into half a bottle after a tough week.

    Oh, and as for drinking at work, I drink a small glass of wine if we are having a cocktail hour at the office, and sometimes take that glass back to my desk, but as a general matter, it would never occur to me to drink at work. Reminds me of a high school math teacher who was rumored to fill her coffee cup with scotch.

  4. In law school, Professor Casner aslways advised: keep a bottle of schnaps in the office and pull it out with nice glasses when clients sign a will. I thought that was lovely advice, but I have never followed it. On the whole, alcohol and a law office are a bad combination.

    It is said that trial lawyers drink a lot, and I am sure that is true. It is an occupational disease of the trial lawyer. As to drinking at a professional function, in this part of the country that is not done, with a very few exceptions. At business lunches, everyone here drinks iced tea. I think that is a wise and good rule.

    Limiting our after hours drinking is terribly important – as to the intake of empty calories, as to preserving our brain cells, and as to preserving our personal and professional reputations. Any attorney would thinks she might have an alcohol problem should immediately seek help. Nothing ruins a law practice as totally as alcohol abuse.

    • Anonymous :

      You must tell me what part of the country this is where alcohol is rare at professional functions. I might consider moving there for that reason alone. As someone who doesn’t drink due to religious reasons, I find the prevalence of alcohol at every social event a bit much.

      • Anonymous :

        2nd. please tell, because not only do i not drink, i don’t like going places where drinking is the main activity.

        • legalicious07 :

          I completely agree!

          Drinking has no sway for me. No one in my immediate family drinks (perhaps because both my parents had grown up seeing their own fathers drink to excess at certain times), and I wasn’t one of those high school teens who spent my weekends playing drinking games. In fact, I never even had my first taste of alcohol until my 1L summer working for a firm. (And keep in mind that I took several years off between college and law school.) So for me, it’s just not a big deal. I don’t like the taste. I don’t like the smell. I don’t like the way it makes people act when I’m around them. I agree with George Bernard Shaw here when he says that (presumably excessive) “Alcohol produces artificial happiness, artificial courage, artificial gaiety, artificial self-satisfaction…”

          The bottom line is — I don’t judge someone else’s decision to drink, but neither should I have to justify my decision not to do so.

  5. Work hard, play hard. Kinda sums it up.

  6. Well, I don’t drink due to religious reasons. The women I work with drink casually. I don’t think they regularly drink to excess (even if they feel like it during tax season).

  7. I lie and tell people I’m allergic to alcohol. I grew up with parents who didn’t drink and a lot of tee-totallers in my family. And funny enough, there aren’t ANY embarrassing drunk pictures of me to put on Facebook. And I’m still a lot of fun.

    • When you tell people, do they just leave you alone or ask more questions? I really am allergic and can’t tell you how many people refuse to believe it and persist in asking 3-4 follow up questions to figure out whether I’m really allergic.

      • I tell them that “unattractive things happen” and that I turn red and get puffy. Because I actually DO have a sensitivity to a few types of drinks and decided never to learn which ones were which, I can be somewhat honest. I’m pretty open, so if I keep the truth from people, they tend to back off. Maybe you could be a bit more curt? I normally just get the response “I’m so sorry” to which I usually reply “I’m not” with kind of a wicked smile :)

        • I grew up in a teetotaller family and never somehow feel the need to have a drink…I can appreciate a glass of good red wine, but equally happy if I never ever drink again.

          Work: No drinking in my office, unless one of the top bosses decides it’s cocktail hour at the local bar 5pm Friday…I just skip it as I prefer to get home and unwind.

          The issue is friends (well, not the close ones) & acquaintances on casual nights out etc – so I just nurse my one glass/pass it on to husband who happily will finish it for me.

  8. When I worked in litigation, the excessive drinking was brutal. I start with one cocktail or glass of wine & then shift to club soda with a lime. People assume I’m drinking vodka tonic/soda & don’t ask questions.

  9. (1) Excess? Very rarely. Usually only on a bachelorette party or other pre-planned big girls’ night out; otherwise, the “excess” is just the dull headache the next morning after having one too many glasses of wine over a very long dinner with friends.

    (2) Why? My group of girlfriends doesn’t all get together too often, so when we do it’s usually a bach party or a big deal for us. The other “excess” I mentioned, too much wine at dinner is usually the result of a good, leisurely meal with great company and ordering that 3rd or 4th glass that I don’t really need. Kind of like the “time flies when you’re having fun” cliche – the wine glass drains quickly when you’re having fun!

    (3a) School nights? During nice weather, my husband and I will often have a glass of wine or a beer on our balcony and chat about our day. Many (but not all) nights we will have a glass of wine with dinner and a little extra after. If we are drinking on a weeknight, I’d say we typically drink .5-.75 of a bottle of wine, sometimes the whole thing.

    (3b) Likes? I am a pretty picky drinker. I primarily drink wine. Irish/English ciders such as Magners or Strongbow are favorites if I’m at a non-wine kind of place. Beer and hard liquor are not typically my thing, although Iwill have them if I’m in the mood for it when we are out. I think the extent of hard liquor at home is Bloody Marys at our weekly Sunday football parties or margaritas for a BBQ.

    (3c) Toasts? Anything that deserves it!

    (4) Worried? I think I used to worry about my drinking more. Europeans drink wine daily, and it’s considered to be part of the culture…in American some people consider daily drinking alcoholism. As long as it doesn’t affect your personality, your ability to get up in the morning and your function as a contributing member of society, I think it’s totally fine to enjoy a glass or two of wine at night. Two glasses of wine over the course of 2-3 hours when I get home has zero impact for me on any of those things. Now, if you’re pounding whiskey nightly to escape your problems, then that’s something else entirely.

    • Do you think you’re “judged” for ordering cider, the same way you would be judged for ordering something pink or fruity?

      • I don’t order cider at professional functions, i.e. those where you wear a suit and network, ass-kiss, hob-nob, etc. I love wine and will drink that at professional functions.

        As for casual office functions, like a Friday happy hour at the Irish pub around the corner, I will order a Magners, in a glass over ice (the traditional way it is served). I don’t care for the overly sweet domestic ciders, and I’ve actually had several colleagues ask about the Magners (and consequently turned them into dry Irish/English cider drinkers).

    • Another cider fan here! I love Strongbow, and far prefer it to beer. I prefer it draft style, and it actually looks like beer so unless you stood with me as I ordered you have no idea I’m not drinking beer. For those that do ask, once they taste it, they realize it’s no girly drink :)

      • Another cider fan here – my favorite being K’s brand.

        I don’t find many places to even order them – outside of an irish pub.

        Not a beer drinker at all, but cider can be nice in the fall or even those cool summer nights around the campfire. :)

  10. 1) Do you drink to excess? sometimes yes
    2) Why do you think that is? if it’s excess, i’m out w/ friends, had a tough day/week, etc. and it’s a good way to unwind.
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? if i drink during the week, it’s a happy hour w/ coworkers (maybe go a couple times a month) or i’ll have a glass of 2 at home in a given night, by myself. this is usually only if i had a very bad day, need to lose some inhibitions, etc. I may do this everyday for 2 wks, and then not do it for 8 whole weeks. It’s sporadic. As for the wkend, i can go a whole weekend not drinking. my boyfriend isn’t a big drinker so i think that has a lot to do with it. if i have a girls night, it’s def a lot of alcohol. for instance, this wkend is a bachelorette party so i expect it to be a very “excess drinking” night :)
    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer? wine! sweet ones, reisling, pinot grigio, and some light mixes. i also enjoy chianti. a light beer every once in awhile. and cranberry/vodka’s when i’m out.
    3c: what do you toast to?) getting through the day, having a job (had a lot of layoffs), a wedding, engagement, baby, a breakup…
    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? maybe a little, but i’m still young and i have my binges especially when single. What have you done about it? nothing, i’ve never drank excessively alone, i can go days, or weeks without it, so it was never an issue. but it’s funny when I go home at xmas it always occurs to me as i reflect on it, i realize i drink every day of that entire 2 week break! hahaha, family :)

  11. divaliscious11 :

    Lots going on here –

    1) Do you drink to excess? – No
    2) Why do you think that is? – I like a buzz, but I don’t like to be drunk
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? a glass of wine, maybe 2, a glass of champagne or two, a beer or two, or a vodka gimlet or 2
    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer? – see above, like lagers, red wines (merlots/malbecs) Perrier jouet, but I also like a nice Cava
    3c: What do you toast to?) Whatever is in my gratitude journal for the day!
    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? No

    • divaliscious11 :

      Oh, and I’ll have ONE drink at a work function and no drinks in the office if I am expected to do additional work

  12. I am a trial attorney, so maybe that influences my drinking more than I think (I have noticed we are always the last ones at a work cocktail party).

    I drink primarily during the week, after work/at the end of work with work collegues or at functions. I occassionally drink on weekends socially. I do drink more than I should sometimes, usually when drinking with men, who as we know can drink more. I feel pressure to keep up with them, and often, my glass is filled (or a refill is brought) without even asking me (even if I still have wine to drink). I also feel like the time I spend drinking with collegues or friends is often some of the most valuable conversation time I have with them, so I’ll stretch it by having another glass with them.

    When available, I drink something like vodka/cranberry and initially ask the bartender to make my drinks weak–they have always complied. It helps, a lot. Typically, though, my collegues drink wine, so that’s what I drink. I’ve considered whether I have a drinking problem (which I define as drinking interfering with either my work or important relationships), and the answer is, sometimes, when I’m depressed (yes, it’s self-medicating). So, I now attempt to avoid alcohol when I’m depressed. Otherwise, I have no problem not drinking. It’s really more of a way to connect socially with people. I have, on a Friday, taken a glass of wine back to my desk to finish a few things after a happy hour. And I’ve had a glass of wine on the weekends while working on something.

  13. (the other) Dasha :

    1) Do you drink to excess?
    Not intentionally, and only rarely unintentionally. Vitamin B helps.

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    I don’t really drink on school nights, unless its a “bar night” type situation with school/work friends, in which case weekend rules apply. Maybe a glass of wine or a beer in a social situation or after a very, very stressful day. On the weekends, if I drink, its usually no more than 3-4 drinks spaced an hour apart – the total number depends on how long I’m out, but I rarely exceed four. I generally don’t get too drunk this way. Rarely I’ll do shots at someone else’s suggestion – I’m not a party pooper.

    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    Lately I like French ’75s and anything else with champagne in it.

    3c: what do you toast to?
    Nothing in particular.

    4: On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    No. Most people I know tell me I don’t drink enough. Which might be true.

  14. I grew up in a denomination that condemns the consumption of alcohol, but have since shifted to a more moderate position. I am still careful about how much I have at business-y functions just because I’m kind of a lightweight (and control freak?), but for the most part I prefer just to drink in my own home. There’s nothing quite like a glass of red wine or a nice gin and cranberry or gin martini and a good book or crossword to wind down before bed. In general, though, my limit is one drink. I usually don’t want more than that, whether it’s the calories or the dizzies.

    Alcohol at work? Not in my firm culture. If/when I have my own office, there will be a bottle of bourbon or like stuff for pulling out after big wins, heartbreaks, or milestones. I like the will-signing ceremonial shot–my old clinic prof used to do that, and I thought it very classy of him.

    • Love to have a glass of wine with a good book, while just relaxing at home by myself. Doesn’t happen too often, but I am with ya!

      I’m also partial to wine in the bathtub! :P

  15. This is really interesting. Thanks for posting, Kat.

    Big law litigation associate here…I like drinking in general and do occasionally drink to excess. I think this is partly attributable to work stress and partly to my social life. I rarely drink alone and plans with friends usually involve wine or cocktails. I limit how much I drink during the week. I find that now that I’m in my 30s, even one drink on a week night slows me down the next day. Either because I can’t recover as well or because it is no longer possible to get through the work day hungover (because of increased responsibility). Calories are an issue too, of course. But over the weekend, I usually have at least a couple of drinks, with a preference for white wine and bourbon based cocktails. I avoid red wine because of migraines. I occasionally worry that I drink too much and will go through period of time when I limit myself to two drinks a day.

  16. Elizabeth :

    I have gone through law school and my first few years of being a criminal defense attorney while rarely drinking. Not for ideological or abuse reasons, I just don’t like it much and usually am a D.D.. I have fielded the almost non-stop questions of “why aren’t you drinking?!?!” over and over again.

    To avoid all the questions, if there are mixers I will just mix myself a juice drink (cranberry, grapefruit, sprite etc.) and people assume that I’ve put alcohol in it. But definitely always have some sort of drink. Shirley temples are also delicious and don’t look non-alcoholic.

    I’ve also found that people are less judgmental when they need a ride home at 2 am and you’re the only sober one left!

    • My favorite response to when someone asks why I’m not drinking or only drinking moderately? “Because some needs to make sure your drunk butt gets home safe!”

  17. I don’t drink. Never really have. I generally don’t care for the taste and, perhaps too, I like to be in control. I do find though that the peer pressure to drink now (early-30s) is about as strong as it was in college. Neighbors invite us over for a beer, co-workers “need a drink” at the cocktail hour, a glass of wine “goes better” with a nice meal than a diet coke. It can be frustrating and every time I have to say “I don’t drink” I feel like it either comes across as a judgment on the other person or causes people to think I’m a recovering alcoholic. It’s neither–I’m just an anomoly in a family of people who love their wine.

  18. I don’t drink nearly as much as many of my collegues. It’s a combination cost/calories/I-don’t-like-being-drunk-except-with-people-I’m-totally-comfortable-thing (there’s a long, personal story there).

    I tend to drink club soda and lime and people assume its vodka. If people notice AND are rude enough to ask, I usually just say its personal. People generally get the idea, but if they keep pressing (and it’s not someone I can blow off) I use the calorie reason.

    One word of warning for women, though – I had the “personal” thing backfire on me at one job because I stopped drinking completely, and also started a diet that involved drinking a lot of water, which meant a lot of bathroom trips. A gossipy office-mate was between my office and the bathroom, and before I knew it, she put two and two together, and told the entire office I was pregnant (which I wasn’t).

  19. 1) Do you drink to excess?
    Not any more. I used to occasionally, in college and law school.
    2) Why do you think that is?
    Hate hangovers (those happen after 3 drinks for me now). Also, I went dry (a) while studying for the bar, and (b) during my 2 pregnancies. I am nursing now so won’t have more than 1.5-2.
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    During the week – 1 glass of wine while making and eating dinner, maybe once every 2 weeks. On the weekend, 2 drinks/glasses if we go out to eat, which is maybe once a month or once every 6 weeks (you can tell we have young kids, yes?).
    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    I am a big fan of German/Austrian rieslings and gewurtztraminers. Like Belgian white beers and #9. Also like amaretto sours, cosmos and all those other girly drinks.
    3c: what do you toast to?
    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    No, never. Although I did swear to myself after having about 10-12 drinks at my 22nd bday party to never, ever drink that much again (and I never have).

  20. I drink about 3-4 glasses a week, sometimes less and sometimes more depending on how busy our weekends are. Oddly, I enjoy drinking way more than my husband. Once, I was alone at home for a week when my husband was out of town and I drank a glass of wine or 2 every night. I have heard about the “don’t drink alone” rule and so it made me think twice about doing that again.

    I definitely don’t drink excessively, particularly when I compare my answer against some of the other posters, but I also know myself well enough to know that I enjoy the taste of wine and I don’t want to get too comfortable with that habit.

    I also come from a family of non-drinkers (and my mother in law thinks people who drink are “bad”) so I never drink with family around.

  21. Anonymous :

    1) Do you drink to excess?
    Nope. If I have a dinner party, I’ll drink to perhaps tipsy, but that’s generally as far as it goes (and I usually switch back to water at some point in the evening).

    2) Why do you think that is?
    I’ve always been wary of drunken craziness. That’s not to say that I’ve never gotten way too drunk — I have, but it’s on a handful of occasions. (Literally, I think I can count them on one hand.) And the last one was several years ago.

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    “School nights” I often have one drink after dinner (usually scotch or bourbon with soda). (I count my calories, so it’s measured and accounted for!) Weekend nights I might have more than one, or split wine with my fiance over dinner. We really barely ever go out to bars, and when I have it means maybe 3 drinks.

    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    Nope. I drink relatively frequently (at least in the phase I’m in right now — six months ago I might have one drink on the weekends and none on weekdays, but there were times before that when I had a glass of wine fairly regularly), but in small quantities. I’m generally in that “1-2 drinks per day is healthier than teetotaling or going overboard” range, with a slight uptick on most weekends.

  22. Associate :

    It seems every organized law related event I attend is some form of a happy hour. Are other professsions like this?

    • I find networking events are more fun when alcohol is involved. It makes people more talkative/less shy.

    • it appears engineering is that way, too, especially if the event is planned after 4pm. it makes me really uncomfortable – why would you want to drink in front of people who are judging you professionally?

  23. 1) Do you drink to excess? – Sometimes
    2) Why do you think that is? – Stress relief, like the taste, plus it’s just social. Really, what else is there to do with colleagues after work, if you’re not going to head to happy hour and lift a glass? Like another reader said, work hard, play hard.
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? on a “school night” I often join colleagues for drinks or half-price wine at a nearby restaurant. If I go out to dinner with my hubby or friends, I’ll often have a glass or two of wine or beer.
    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer? – beer, red wine or sometimes white in the summer, vodka tonic, seltzer with lemon and Canton (a yummy ginger liqueour that is relatively low in ETOH content).

    3c: What do you toast to? To life in general. Sometimes to a work victory or other success. Sometimes to the day being over and no longer being in the office.

    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? Yes. But then I just cut back for a while.

  24. pinkrobot :

    1) Do you drink to excess?
    rarely, but I do drink frequently
    2) Why do you think that is?
    because it can be fun.
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    work night: Happy Hour with coworkers or an office hang out/party. Probably once every other week. Drinking in the office is a common occurrence in silicon valley. The more start up like ( or desperately trying to be seen as start up like), the larger the in house liquor & beer collection. The more corporate the software company, the less frequently engineering drinks. There’s also a correlation between the number of hours engineers are implicitly expected to work and the amount of in office drinking (long + weekends if start up, 10-6 if staid corporate). I follow a 3:1 rule, 3 oz of water to 1 oz of ethanol at 50% (100 proof) . In general, I cap it at 3 oz ethanol a night and no one has ever raised an eyebrow.
    weekend: glass of wine with dinner. If we eat out, and there is a really unusual cocktail I might try it.
    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    I’m a fan of Hemmingway’s Death in the Afternoon, Parma (pomegranate liqueur), cidar, sparkling wines, Malbecs & Cameneres. A thimble sized amount of a good 20 year aged scotch is a nice treat too.
    3c: what do you toast to?
    toasting is generally optional, but if someone proposes one, Ill play along.
    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    Nope. As long as one can stop drinking when it stops tasting good, and it isn’t impeding any aspect of your life, it is not a problem.

  25. On school nights, 2 or 3 light beers or glasses of wine, but only if we go out and do something, which is only probably one night a week. During the week at home I’d rather eat than drink the extra calories. On the weekend, maybe 3 drinks on Friday and Saturday. If there’s a big event…bachelorette party, wedding, birthday etc. maybe a few more.

  26. As a law student, I suspect my answers to be a little different. Prior to law school, I worked in the Capitol and found my lifestyle didn’t change.

    1) Do you drink to excess? – Yes
    2) Why do you think that is? – It’s what all the other 22-27 year olds with disposable income (or so much debt it doesn’t matter) and limited responsibility do Thurs-Sat nights.
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? School night- splitting a bottle of wine/ two cocktails with dinner with friends. Weekend- I know this sounds bad, but, binge drinking.
    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer? – Scotch, Red Wine (zinfandel, pinot noir), G/T
    3c: What do you toast to? Whoever bought the drinks.
    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? Sometimes. I think law school is work/hard play hard so I’m just trying to fulfill both ends of the equation. I assume when my lifestyle changes so will my social habits.

    • Med school was like this too. I think there’s something about being in a relatively high pressure academic setting that makes people do this. We’d study like crazy, drink like crazy. Now that I’m a chief surgical resident, a wife and a mother to a 16 month old I don’t have the time, energy or desire to drink to excess. I feel bombed after a single cocktail, which I usually consume prior to a meal out on a weekend night. If I’m feeling really naughty, I have a glass of wine with dinner to follow.

  27. Anonymous :

    1) Do you drink to excess? Yes.
    2) Why do you think that is? I think the biggest reason is that I live in San Francisco and am super interested in food and wine. I am invited to a lot of tastings, events, etc where there’s just a lot of alcohol. I turn more down than accept and still find myself at them several times a month. Drinking is just big in my circle of friends.

    I’m also a trial attorney and my husband has a demanding job as well, so alcohol does help relieve stress.

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? It varies. I do try to stick to no more than 2 on a school night because it does impact how I sleep. My husband and I will split a bottle on the weekends if I cook a nice meal. and if we’re at a tasting, all bets are off (public transportation is our friend)

    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer? Primarily wine…boutique CA producers. I like Belgian style beers. I rarely drink the hard stuff – an occassional shot of chilled limoncello is about all I’ll do.

    3c: what do you toast to?
    Anything – good friends, mostly

    4: On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    Yes. I have taken steps back at various points in my life. Booking the calendar with non-alcohol focused events helps – hiking or trips to museums, brunches, dinners at ethnic restaurants, like Indian or dim sum, where the alcohol selection usually sucks and doesn’t really add anything to the experience.

  28. 1) Do you drink to excess? No.

    2) Why do you think that is? I don’t like that out of control feeling that you get while drunk and I don’t like dealing with hangovers

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? A glass or two of wine with dinner. Cocktails and “hard liquors” are saved for the weekend.

    (3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer? , Pinot Grigios or Chardonays during the summer. Used to like Reislings but now find most of them too sweet. Zinfindels or Malbacs during colder weather. Love Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, vodka martinis and bellinis during a nice brunch. I’ll enjoy an occasional shot of Blanton’s.

    Fine, and 3c: what do you toast to?) Any type of good news and or fortune.

    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it? Don’t think I drink too much.

    And what’s with the “never drink alone” rule? I’m single and love to cook, so more often than not, I manage to cook a nice meal for myself when I get home from work and enjoy wine with my dinner. I don’t invite friends over to share a meal everytime I cook so……

    • Amen to questioning the “never drink alone” rule. My husband travels Monday through Friday. I’m an attorney and love cooking use it for stress-release during the week when I have time (and I get to cook everything my husband won’t eat). If I’ve had a stressful day and I cook a good meal, I’m going to have a glass or two of wine with it and not feel guilty.

      • “I’m an attorney and love cooking [and] use it for stress-release during the week when I have time (and I get to cook everything my husband won’t eat). ”

        Gah. Sadly, I haven’t had a glass tonight and have no excuse for my typing/grammar…

    • For me, the “never drink alone” rule is really more “don’t get drunk alone” rule. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a drink or two at the end of a long day, regardless of whether someone else is there with you.

  29. (1) Rarely – Suprisingly, I’ve found that being in law school past my 1L year has killed my tolerance. I think this is because I got so busy during my 2L year, and even more so during my 3L year, that I don’t have the kind of time to party it up like I used to in college (I went to a big state school that was known for being a party school).
    (2) Anything close to excessive drinking usually occurs on a night out on the weekends with friends. There’s a favorite bar in downtown that my friends and I like going to – outdoors with lots of tables and chairs, lights in the trees, and usually a jazz band playing. Something about good friends, good music, and a couple leisurely hours that makes the drinks flow.
    (3)(a) On a school night – usually only 1 and at most 2. On a non-school night – typically 2-3, but could be more depending on the occassion/atmosphere.
    (3)(b) Out to dinner, it’s usually a glass of red wine. At home, probably a dark beer (perfect for those nights when I have a taco craving). Out on the town – my signature drink is a whiskey and coke.
    (3)(c) Anything worth toasting to – successes and good friends!
    (4) Only on mornings when I wake up with a wicked hangover.

  30. I’m a recovering alcoholic (sober for more than 2 years) but when I drank a lot at after work happy hours, I was definitely not the only one partaking in many drinks. It is not for me to say if someone else has a drinking problem, but even with just a year of sobriety, I look at the behavior of some of the people I used to play hard with, and it worries me. These are all incredibly smart, accomplished people, but I myself was remarkably functional even in my worst drinking days, so it’s very hard to say.

    I don’t drink at all now, obviously. I have no problem telling people who are pushing booze at work events I don’t drink, and if they push, I will tell them the reason why I don’t drink. Usually they are embarassed. For me, being a recovering alcoholic is not something I’ll go out of my way to talk about, but I am not ashamed of it, nor do I feel the need to try and hide it. Yes, I am aware there is a huge stigma, but alcoholism won’t become less stigmatized if I don’t tell the truth about it.

    My co-workers don’t know (it’s never come up) and I’ve never told my boss directly, but I am 99.9% sure he knows. I must have the best boss in the world, because he has been incredibly (subtlely) supportive and he has never sold me out on the issue.

  31. 1) Do you drink to excess? No
    2) Why do you think that is? Wine gives me migraines, and I have a major fear of being impaired and saying/doing something idiotic that keeps me from having more than a single drink – that and my stomach is only so big – if I drink more than one reasonably sized beer or cocktail then I can’t eat dinner… or more to the point, I will be eating something, so I really can only fit in one glass of whatever
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? “school night” – none, weekend night… maybe a beer with friends, maybe a cocktail, maybe nothing… nothing is more likely than not – I used to be fat, and although I don’t count calories, a diet coke with zero calories beats a 300 calorie mixed drink!
    (3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer? Fine, and 3c: what do you toast to?) I like Magic Hat (almost) Pale Ale, other ales, Stella Artois beer, Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlua & Cream, if I want something sweet, honey mead wine if I’m bringing wine somewhere (grape based wine gives me migraines)
    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it? Not a worry… If I have 3 drinks a month that’s a lot for me…

    • Sorry – forgot the “toast” question — Usually toasting to family being together, friends seeing each other, overcoming little failures, achieving big and small successes that differentiate each day from the one before

  32. 1) Do you drink to excess?
    I do, on occassion. A few times per year, although in the past I drank to excess much more frequently (and to a much larger excess).
    2) Why do you think that is?
    I like the taste, and enjoy the ability to “let go” of some of my worries for a short time — it’s fun. I have stopped drinking to excess as often since I moved in with my significant other — he is less of a drinker, and it’s not fun — and quite embarassing — to be the only one drunk. Also I used to be able to drink cheap alcohol until I blacked out (oh, college), and wake up able to face the day. Now, a 3rd glass of wine puts me over the “hangover” edge.
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    A beer or two with dinner if I’m out to eat is common on a “school night” but I rarely if ever have a drink if we’re eating at home. Standard weekends are the same — drinks with dinner if we’re out. A few times a year I will “go out drinking” and tend to indulge more on these special occasions.
    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    I recently discovered Malbec, but Zinfendel has always been a favorite. I love good quality tequila, and have a soft spot for spiced rum. I love stouts in the winter and belgian beers in the summer.
    3c: what do you toast to? A really great day or a really rough day, and any special occasion.
    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    Yes, I have worried. My father is an alcoholic, so I have thought long and hard about whether I am self-medicating with alcohol to relieve anxiety. Also, I used to frequently drink to excess, and made some very bad decisions while drunk, which gave me pause. However, I’ve been largely relieved to find that since I’ve been a “grown-up” (out of school), I rarely drink to excess and I don’t miss it. The fact that I don’t need to drink has been a huge relief, and I’ve largely stopped worrying about it.

  33. I have, sadly, have had a glass of wine (alone) before my hour-long commute home at night… It does help, after a really stressful day. No, I don’t drink out of 7-11 coffee travelers cups in my office, though. LOL. But if I worked until 10pm every night, I can relate to Kat’s officemate who has a 7pm drink at her desk… I’d do the same if I were working at home. Hmmm…. Maybe Europeans have their late dinners and drinks for a reason..?

  34. 1) Do you drink to excess? Yes.
    2) Why do you think that is? I’m a 3L at a southern school. It’s part of the lifestyle. I’m from a coastal city and I love sporting events, both lifestyles that tend to include alot of alcohol. I don’t really drink to relieve stress, just to have a good time.
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? “School night” – During the year, I rarely drink on a school night (I only have class 3 days a week though) unless it’s for some kind of event. I’m not really a “drink a glass of wine alone to relax” kind of person, though that might be different, oddly enough, if I had a front porch. During the summer, I clerked at a big-for-my-coastal-city firm (where I will be working after graduation), where there was an event nearly every night, and drinking was usually encouraged and definitely accepted and expected. We clerks had a great time and for the most part, as long as we were not openly trashed to the point of embarrassment, it was all good. On the weekends in school, I generally get drunk one or two nights (when your weekend is Wednesday night through Sunday, it’s hard to drink every night).
    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer? Bourbon, white wine, sometimes light beer and sometimes craft beer.
    3c: what do you toast to? Anything or nothing.
    4: On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? Not really. Like most people at Southern state schools, I binge drank regularly in college. I still drank 3-4 nights a week as a 1L and have gradually toned it down as I got older. I can already tell that the busy lifestyle I will have as a lawyer will leave me too tired for very many blowout nights and the hangovers that follow. And I’ve already mentioned that I don’t really drink alone or need/want a glass of wine to relax every night, so I anticipate limiting my drinking to a couple nights a week, and probably only getting drunk if there’s a special event or occasion.

    As I mentioned, I’m from a coastal city in the South. While alot of the Bible belt is more uptight about drinking, my city is more of a mini New Orleans (in fact, we started Mardi Gras). Add to that the fishing, boating, beer-by-the-water culture and most firms are pretty fun places to work, with most people pretty into drinking. I would say “work hard, play hard” is definitely the motto.

  35. I would love to see a poll on perscription drug usage.

    I was recently told by a classmate how useful ritalin is to help with studying. While I have never tried it (and don’t plan on ever doing it), I must admit that I find minor tranqualizers (for which I have a perscription) to be beyond helpful for sleep/relaxation after a stressful day. Nothing will calm my mind like they do. I hate taking them though, even with a doctor telling me too, because it just doesn’t feel right to like them so much. Also very helpful for those giant presentations at the office, really calms the nerves.

    Would love to hear from other stressed out ladies if they have a similar conflict.

    • I think probably a good 1/3 of my law school, and certainly at least 1/2 of the law review, took ritalin to study and before exams.
      I didn’t and don’t. I always thought it was kinda like cheating, steroid-sy and all that. I wish they would ban them. I think it’s terribly unfair. Everyone does not have ADHD. If half the college age crowd qualifies, it’s not a disorder– it’s the norm.
      (and yes, there may be some genuine cases out there, but believe me they do not make up the majority of people claiming the disorder.)

      • I think a lot of it is boastfulness. there can’t possibly be as many people in my graduating class that took stimulants as there claimed to be. I think it’s just boys being boys, and pretending that they’re on the same drugs that their friends are on. I don’t tthink everyone’s actually doing it

    • try beta blockers to calm your nerves without any ‘tranqualizer’ like effect. these will just help stop the physical effects of nervousness, like sweating, heart racing, voice shaking, etc., but without any sleepiness at all. it’s common for doctors to prescribe this for stage fright, or for big office presentations.

    • i don’t see any problem w/ taking them as you’ve described. it’s like taking ambien to get to sleep. not really a big deal, many do it.

  36. annie nonomous :

    1) Do you drink to excess?
    sometimes, but not very often anymore
    2) Why do you think that is?
    social reasons – i’m still in law school, and it’s amazing how ingrained drinking is in the culture. there’s a bar night every week for the entire school, the law school is the only building on campus where drinking is allowed, it’s a “tradition” for the SBA representatives to pass out jello shots after the last finals 1L year, etc…
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    school night – one or two glasses of wine
    “out” night – a couple of vodka/sodas and maybe a beer.
    (3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    wine: tempranillo, malbec, pinot noir, barrolo, beajolais noveau, muscadet
    for liquor, i like monopolowa vodka, woodford reserve bourbon (or if i can afford it, pappy van winkle), and cazadores tequila.
    i’m from the pacific NW and along with wearing jeans to the opera, driving subarus, and loving rain, we have a proud tradition of microbrews – so i drink those! ninkasi is great, but it can really pack a wallop, so if i want more than one drink, i choose something else.
    Fine, and
    c: what do you toast to?)
    whoever i’m with at the time
    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    no, i am good at moderating myself – i only drink once a week or so, and those are usually “school nights”. My tolerance is low and the feeling I get the next day is never worth it. Plus, I think you only have to know one person with a drinking problem to notice how bad and ugly it can get.

    • Haha! I saw Falstaff last month–and yes, I wore jeans to the Opera. Gods, I love Seattle….

      On a slightly more apropos note: I get seriously drunk maybe once a year–it usually takes that long for memories of the last epic hangover to wear off. ;)

  37. I’ve been reading this blog for several months now and this is the first time I’ve been motivated to comment. Not sure what that says about me. FYI, I’m 23, out of school, working at a nonprofit on a pretty low salary – so kind of an atypical demographic here.

    1) Do you drink to excess? Yes.
    2) Why do you think that is? Because I’m 23 and it’s fun. I rarely drank in college, for a variety of reasons, and am sort of making up for that now. I’m also somewhat introverted, and drinking lets me loosen up, but honestly …. I really do like getting drunk.
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? Weeknights I have a glass of wine with dinner about half the time, if I’m staying in. If I’m out with friends on a weeknight ( once a week or so), I’ll usually have 2, maybe 3. Weekends – I think I had four drinks on Saturday night, and I had an early dinner on top of that. Especially now that it’s warm I generally go out to a club/bar once a week, mostly to dance, and it’s more fun when you’re drinking.
    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    I love margaritas, and cosmos, as obnoxious as I feel when I order them. I like sangria and red wine. For cocktails I’m mostly a vodka girl. I’ve only recently started getting in to (i.e. tolerating) beer, and it’s still the kind of thing that I only drink when I’m eating nachos or a burger or some stereotypically salty bar food.
    3c: what do you toast to?)
    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it? No. I’ve only been drinking seriously/often for about a year, and nothing really bad has come of it so far. I’ve never made any really stupid decisions while drunk, I’m a stickler about not getting drunk on weeknights (I need my sleep), and through some weird twist in my biology I basically never get hungover. So if I didn’t enjoy being well-rested so much I probably COULD drink on weeknights, and the only problem I’d have would be the waking-up-in-the-morning-still-drunk part.

    Presumably I’ll settle down a bit by the time I’m, I dunno, 30, but right now I have no debt and few responsibilities. If I’m gonna overindulge, it ought to be now.

  38. responding to MM (couldn’t reply specifically above for some reason)- until very recently I was a non-drinker for religious reasons as well. I never made a big deal out of it and most people leave it be. I generally drink a Diet Coke or cranberry juice at cocktail parties and bars. Since I am originally from Utah people either figure out that I’m mormon and attribute the not drinking to that or they flat out ask. If someone asks why you aren’t drinking, tell them you are practicing muslim or for religious reasons and they will usually leave it alone.
    That being said, I feel it is generally up to me to make other people comfortable that I am not judging them for drinking. As a summer associate and each time I have started at a new law firm with new co-workers, I feel I have to put in a little extra effort to make everyone comfortable with the fact that I’m still fun or cool or whatever even if I’m not drinking. This has been reinforced by a number of people telling me I am fun despite the fact I am not drinking (in other words, I can make a fool of myself without the assistance of alcohol, not sure if that is a good thing). Eventually, people become pretty protective about it and many will go out of their way to get me something or defend my non-drinking ways to others.

    • Yeah, I didn’t intend for mine to post above, either. Commenting working a little weird for me today. Thanks for the response. I do try to be casual and make a little joke when I respond so I don’t come across as judge-y. But unlike you, I am unfortunately not naturally gregarious, so I can’t always put people at ease as quickly as I would like. (I do regularly go out to bars with friends, and they aren’t uncomfortable at all, but with colleagues and acquaintances it does become more awkward.) Also, I do dislike “having to” bring up my religion in daily conversation, because it often leads to long discussions of my religion, which feels inappropriate for the workplace. But that nonetheless seems preferable to letting people assume I’m pregnant.

      • If you don’t want to bring it up, order club soda with a twist in a rocks glass. (Basically, that’s carbonated water with lemon on ice in a short glass.) Everyone will think it’s gin or vodka and tonic.

  39. EmilyRyan :

    This is what I think: Drinking and binge drinking is a central part of the higher education (college) culture in the United States. A lot of people give up heavy drinking after college, but the “most educated” women have spent the longest time in this culture. This makes heavy drinking seem a) more normal and b) not like something you have to give up “after college” when you “grow up” (because “after college” you went to law school…and there was still plenty of time and incentives to keep partying).

    • That’s very insightful.
      I never thought of that.

    • I couldn’t disagree more. This drinking culture that you all describe has absolutely never been a part of my work world, which is primarily MBA’s from top schools whom I assure you are just as educated as all you lawyers. Maybe every now and then people would go out for a drink after work, but it wasn’t “expected” socializing. And once everyone started having kids, those days were done with — people would rather go home with their families than go drinking. And I have never, ever been in a situation where someone would chastise someone for drinking white wine (even playfully) or comment that they weren’t drinking anything at all.

      The only time I can think of that there has been excess drinking are at things like corporate retreats — but there’s never been any pressure to “drink like the men.” Yeah, a bunch of idiots get drunk because that’s what idiots do. But it’s not expected or applauded, and normally they have the good graces to be embarrassed afterwards.

      Sorry, this seems a unique law culture thing to me. I have to say, it seems so dated / “Mad Men” to me.

      • My mid-size firm doesn’t have that culture either. I’m wondering if it’s a corporate law thing.

      • I agree with Sharon — My first job in public accounting had beer or wine at the firm holiday party but other than that, there was a lot of food during tax season (we pretty much lived there January – April 15), and since then I’ve worked at the biggest exempt organizations in the country which are essentially international corporations, and never had that experience (and yes, we are highly educated, white collar, etc.)

        • Chicago K :

          It might also depend on what area of the country you are located in. I work for a Fortune 500 bank, also where most people have MBAs, and we definately have the drinking culture at some of our locations (outside Chicago).

          While I’ve never seen anyone drink at the office, after work get togethers at the bar are common, and after work dinner outings will have people ordering beer, coctails, and bottles of wine. Company parties always have alcohol, we even rented out a microbrewery for a party one year.

          As someone who has a low tollerance for alcohol – and therefore a fear of drinking and driving – I often decline to drink. Which leads to question upon question, and even a demand that if I was going to attend a party in our corporate suite at a sporting event, that I was required to drink!

          Needless to say, I kind of went off on my manger telling me this…I definately feel like an outsider when I don’t drink and it’s noticed. Although when everyone else has had a few, they seem to think my perrier and orange is an alcoholic beverage.

  40. Some weeks I drink two glasses of wine every night. Some weeks I drink almost nothing. I get buzzed on week nights fairly regularly… that means two or three glasses of wine/beer. I don’t keep hard liquor in the house as a rule. If I’m out drinking on a Saturday night, I drink gin and tonic or beer. I’ll get drunk maybe once every other month. If I feel like I’ve been drinking too much recently, for whatever reason, I just stop. I try not to drink alone, but sometimes I do anyway.

  41. divaliscious11 :

    This is interesting. I think the first day of law school ‘thing’ at my school was a keg in the courtyard… and I remember a big ta-do being made because there were several recovering alcoholics in our class who complained and a whole lot of “manage your issues” fighting ensued.

    The only lawyers I know that don’t drink are the recovering alcoholics. That’s not say that everyone else drinks heavily, they just do… I remember going back to class with a big plastic cup of beer and a slice of pizzza on so many occasions it isn’t even startling… I also remember lots of beer and wine floating around the firm, especially in the summer.

    At my current job, it has been stated that while traveling for business, expensing a glass of wine or beer with or just after a meal is fine, but just one per evening meal.

  42. I don’t drink and sometimes it feels like a professional liability. I don’t like the taste and I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I think I am allergic because if other people got so sick after 1 beer or 2 there is no way they would drink as much as they do. I just say no thanks and drink some non alchoholic drink but sometimes people really are pushy.

  43. 1) Yes, I occasionally drink to excess. I am sure there are health department stats about what that means, but to me, it means I finish a drink and think to myself… that last one was a mistake. And, I usually pay for it in the morning.
    2) I think that I drink to excess for a few reasons – first, because I enjoy the taste of a number of types of alcoholic beverages. Second, because it tends to relieve my stress. Third, because “all my friends are doing it.” And, as a 3L in a Big 12 town, I can assure you, all my friends really ARE doing it.
    3) On a “school night” I drink two glasses of wine if I am at home, making dinner. I also limit myself to two to three beers at a bar if I am meeting friends out. Typically, though, we drink in the mid to late afternoon, and call it a day well before “night” happens. On a weekend, usually one night per week I will drink one drink an hour over the span of about five hours. This ultimately makes me feel horrid the next day, prompting REALLY BAD nutritional decisions – Taco Bell? Yes please. Crab Rangoon? Gimme two orders.
    3) I drink strictly wine and beer. Hard alcohol has the effective of a laxative on my system (TMI, I know, but maybe some other ladies have this issue as well..) I love gin and tonic, but just cannot tolerate it. I stick to red wine in the winter and white wine when it’s warm out. Beer at bars, bbqs, casual gatherings and lower end restaurants. At my firm, Friday is the day everyone quits early, gathers around the back of the office and drinks together. It’s always beer or *shudder* scotch. I stick to the beer.
    4) There was a period of time during my 1L year, second semester, when I had too much to drink basically 7 days a week. More than four drinks, skipped class to go to the bar, stayed up way too late drinking and felt all around awful. My mom confronted me about my drinking habits once when I had the stomach flu (legit stomach flu…) and I re-examined my priorities and my health. Since my family has a history of alcoholism, I decided to tone it down. Not only that, but lately, when I have spent time drinking with many of my close girlfriends, I have noticed that everyone gets a little more… emotional when they drink. I don’t like that. I like to be in control. I never want to drink too much and say something I cannot take back to someone that’s important to me, or to my life. Tapering off my alcohol consumption around friends, during days when everyone is basically getting hammered has prompted people to call me uptight or no fun, or simply ask “what’s wrong?”… but that’s just my generation.
    I think the best advice is to know your limit. Then, subtract one.

  44. 1) Do you drink to excess? Rarely, but it has certainly happened.

    2) Why do you think that is? My father is an (un-recovered) alcoholic, and
    growing up with that made me terrified of turning out like he did. I didn’t start drinking until my junior year of college. I really enjoy drinking now, and I’m afraid if I don’t control myself now, I’ll have to control myself permanently in the future– a life without gin? Too grim to imagine! Plus I’m working full time while going to school full time, so I don’t have time to be hungover.

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? I have either one glass of wine or a gin and tonic almost every night after dinner . Weekdays and weekends are not typically different in terms of drinking amounts. But when I go to a mexican restaurants on the weekend, I’ll split a pitcher of margaritas with 2-3 other people. After a not-so-shining moment several months ago, I self-imposed a 3 drink limit no matter what the occasion.

    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    Tanqueray’s rangpur gin is the sweet nectar of the gin and tonic gods.

    3c: what do you toast to? I’m not really a toasting kind of person, but some small triumph.

    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    Yes I have. However, I decided that I was being overly sensitive and self critical because of my father’s drinking problem, so I decided to trust myself, and stop holding onto the need to be in perfect control at all moments (honestly, I was being irrational). Nothing bad happened, but I stay cautious.

  45. def do a thread on prescription drugs… i suspect this is prevalent and am curious to know whether others have struggled w/ this…

  46. I find that drinking makes me flirty, so I only drink when I want to turn that on — in other words, very rarely around colleagues. It can also make me tired if it’s been a long day, so that’s another reason not to do it, no one wants to talk with someone half-asleep.

    The times I’ve drunken to excess are when I’m around a guy that I like and am nervous/uncomfortable with. Those nights usually don’t end well (ok, not always bad, but not good in the long run).

  47. 1) Do you drink to excess? Yes. But not as much anymore.
    2) Why do you think that is? Partly the stress relief, partly the social aspect. Partly the fact that it makes me feel young again and being out reminds of college / law school (i.e., happier, less stressful times… sorry if that shocks those students out there to hear).
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? On a school night, maybe a glass or two of wine with hubs / the co-workers or a beer if it’s a more casual dinner (takeout Chinese or pizza). If it’s a particularly stressful or emotional day, a bourbon on the rocks. On the weekend, it totally depends. When I have an event or am getting together with certain friends, it could be up to a drink an hour or more. When it’s a quiet weekend, no more than a school night or sometimes nothing at all.
    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer? I love and appreciate a good bourbon or red wine. I generally switch to white wine in the summer (or at events where my teeth need to be presentable). Certain foods require certain drinks, such as ‘ritas with Mexican.
    3c: what do you toast to? Depends on the night. Nothing at all. Often to work successes or failures. Big news, especially financial news (raises, good days in the market).
    4: On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it? I have at different moments, but I definitely am able to go for long periods without it without a problem, so I generally stop worrying. I’ve never had children so have never given it up for more than a few weeks at a time, but think I probably could if called upon. I’m certain if I ever do have kids though everyone will know immediately that I’m preggers when I stop drinking. I already get questioned at work events if I have only water.

  48. 1) No, I don’t drink to excess. I may have a glass of wine with dinner, or two on a Friday, a couple of times a week, and I like the occasional cocktail. But I’m not even a one-drink-per-day kind of drinker. Just not a big drinker at all. As for binge drinking, I did that on occasion in college and law school – as did many of us – but haven’t “overindulged” since 2006. I remember the last time I was really, really drunk – it was a crazy fun night, and the memories will last me a lifetime. (Yes, I remember it all, and yes, I was definitely drunk. I just have an awesome memory.)

    2) Hmmm, I do like the taste of alcohol, especially wine. I’m actually quite educated about wine – took a class on it in college and read lots of books and articles in the years since, and have done a number of wine tours. I also enjoy cocktails from time to time. I was never a beer drinker – that is one kind of alcohol I do not like the taste of. But I don’t use alcohol to relieve stress – I have yoga, running and piano for that. And I prefer to spend both my money and my calories in other places, hence I don’t drink too much when I go out.

    3a) Typical night of drinking… well, a “school night” may entail a glass of wine, or at the most two, with dinner. But that’s only likely to happen once or twice a week. I stick to water the rest of the time. On an evening out, if I’m out at a fancy restaurant with the husband, I’ll choose a wine for us to go with our dinner, as like I said, I’m quite educated about wine and am good at pairings. With girlfriends, I’m probably still going to have wine, since I like it more than any other “adult beverage.” Two glasses, or three tops, on a night out on the weekend. Or possibly a cocktail or two. But I don’t go crazy.

    3b) I love almost all wines, except for sweet wines. My favorites are Chablis (REAL Chablis, not the pretend Chablis in a box… I’m looking at you, Mom!), other white Burgundy, Spanish rose, anything sparkling, and Chard or Pinot Noir from the Pacific coast, especially the Russian River Valley. For cocktails, I mainly stick with classic gin cocktails, as (a) that’s what my tastebuds like, and (b) my husband mixes them like a pro.

    3c) With hubby, we generally toast each other. With friends, anyone’s success or major life milestones, like weddings or passing the Bar. I generally don’t drink to ease stress or disappointment – if I had to pick a poison for reducing stress, it would be retail, not alcohol. =)

    4) No, I’ve never worried that I drink too much. I definitely imbibed my fair share in college and to a lesser degree in law school, but so did most others in my social circle. And it never affected my grades, friendships, or relationships. These days, I worry even less. I have healthy ways of coping with stress and disappointment and although I enjoy wine and the occasional cocktail, I haven’t binged since my student days. Actually, sometimes when I read those studies that say “a drink a day is good for ___,” I think “hmmm, should I be cranking up the par-tay level?” But I really don’t. I have, however, worried that others in my life drink too much. But being only a very light social drinker myself, I am not at all concerned about my own habits.

  49. operaghost :

    I usually stick with a bottle of Oberon/some other beer at the end of the day, and red wine at Bar events. Lord knows I could never make it through them without it…

  50. 1) Do you drink to excess?
    Hardly ever – maybe once a year, and never intentionally.
    2) Why do you think that is?
    Too expensive, plus I’m useless the next day and can’t afford a day of uselessness
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    I’ll drink 3 beers or a couple glasses of wine once a weekend. Harly ever drink during the week – makes me too sleepy.
    (3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    Trader Joes is a staple.
    Fine, and 3c: what do you toast to?)
    I love my job.
    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    Not worried about me. But, all of my male lawyer friends have alcohol addition issues. I find it problematic. I don’t like having to drive them everywhere, and I don’t like that they become morons.

  51. I am in house/Director in a company which deals in property development of hotels and resorts. Management (including all Directors) do not drink any alcohol on site at all or at any workplace functions. We all decided it makes things easier because we are in an environment where alcohol is freely available all the time . Works well for us!

  52. Staying anon :

    Not in law but in big business (multi-billion $ company). I was shocked when I finished grad school a few years ago and learned that most of the top execs had some sort of alcohol stashed in their desks (bottles of Crown, Vodka, etc) or beer in their office fridges. I am not really sure when it was consumed and just can’t imagine (even now) that it was ever appropriate b/c our culture is not one to work extreme late hours into the night. I knew one high ranking female exec who would take a shot before stressful meetings or presentations. There has been quite a bit of turn over in the C-suite during the 5 years I have been with the company; I don’t get the feeling this behavior is quite as pervasive anymore.

    For the record, I am not opposed to drinking and do like to enjoy a glass of wine or bottle of beer at work functions, but drinking alone at my desk seems to be asking for trouble.

    • Anonymous :

      I worked for a F100 company about 10 years ago where, everyday at 3 PM, the CMO would go rinse his Waterford tumbler in the kitchen and get a Diet Coke from the vending machine. One night while in his office (after hours…yes, I had permission to be in there) I spied his bottle of Bacardi.

  53. Anonymous :

    As someone relatively new to this blog (hello!) I’m always astounded by the number of attorneys represented. Greetings from another function: marketing.

    1) Do you drink to excess?
    No. Well, not in the last 10 years anyway. Typically I stop at three glasses of wine or one cocktail.

    2) Why do you think that is?
    Generations of WASP-y breeding have blessed me with an unusually high tolerance. Also, college gave me a chance to learn the fine art of pacing myself. In terms of why I drink, I enjoy the taste, I enjoy how it makes me feel. I’m naturally high-strung, stressed out and I feel like alcohol somehow makes me normal. Sounds sad, but it’s true.

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    During a school night I’ll either have a glass of wine or two while cooking dinner. If I’ve had a particularly difficult day I’ll pour some scotch but never more than a quarter of a highball glass. Oddly, I typically drink less on weekends.

    3b) Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    For wine I love Vueve Clicquot. I also love a good French red Cahors (but they’re tough to find). Vodka tonics are good because if you spill them there’s no mess. As mentioned I’ve recently started exploring single malts – Springbank 15 year is a favorite, I also like Glenkinchie and Bruichladdich. It’s funny to watch men watch a woman order Scotch. It’s like they’ve seen a unicorn.

    3c) What do you toast to?
    Whatever I can. Life’s too short not to celebrate all achievements. Typically thought, co-workers and I toast to promotions, new opportunities and the end of long projects.

    4) Have you ever worried you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    Like a lot of social drinkers, I have worried. When it happens I just step away from all alcohol, switch to water (or tonic in social settings) and play it by ear. I’m admittedly very lucky that way and I know that not everyone is able to do that.

  54. 1) Do you drink to excess?
    Depends on your definition, I guess. I follow two basic rules: (1) never drink more than you intended to at the start of the evening, and (2) never drink so much you’ll regret it the next day. This allows for the occasional moment of “excess,” provided I think the fun of Friday night will justify feeling a little delicate on Saturday morning. =) On the other hand, I don’t let anyone pressure me into “just one more” when I’ve already decided to stop.

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    I almost always drink beer. I’ll have a bottle or maybe two as an after-dinner/watching TV treat. Sometimes I’ll drink 4 or 5 nights in a row; other times I’ll go for weeks without drinking and barely notice. (Truth is, sometimes I prefer cookies for my treat!) I like wine with fancy meals, but don’t buy it for home unless I have friends coming over. Since I live alone, an open bottle of wine in the fridge can become an unpleasant obligation. I have no problem ordering beer in most business situations, but if it’s not available or I feel uncomfortable, I’ll nurse a gin and tonic or something nonalcoholic.

    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    When I was a summer associate, I worried about my drinking– not because I thought I actually had a problem, but because the after hours events were *constant* and it was a little scary how quickly drinking every night became the norm. I stopped drinking for about two months after that, got my nerves (and weight) under control, and then had a stern talk with myself about peer pressure. The truth is, this might be one of the upsides to having had my offer rescinded. Law firm culture includes some heavy drinking, and if you’re not fairly self-aware, you might find yourself upping your alcohol intake to match.

    On the issue of Not Drinking–
    I don’t always drink alcohol at alcohol-heavy events, for all sorts of reasons: medication, calorie-counting, not liking anything on offer, plans requiring complete sobriety, or a plain bad mood. (Although alcohol can help with mild stress, I avoid it when I’m genuinely upset or depressed. The additional depressant effect makes me feel MUCH worse.)

    I’ve had my share of nosy questions, and the best response I’ve come up with is, “Oh, I *really* wanted a lemonade/Diet Coke/water tonight.” Most people just want to know that you’re healthy and enjoying yourself. Even if you’re not, expressing enthusiasm is usually enough to satisfy them. And yes, I’ll occasionally be urged to pour a little rum or vodka into that Diet Coke. I just have to keep repeating “no, thank you” and remind myself that some people just can’t take a hint. =)

  55. Purpleviolet :

    The idea that somehow, someday she will control and enjoy her drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. . . here are the methods we have tried: drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking normal business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines. . . . from the big book of Alcoholic Anonymous.
    Thank God for the Florida Lawyers Assistance Program that helped me get sober.

    • Congratulations, good luck on your journey. I too was worried that too many on this thread were saying, ‘what’s the big deal about drinking to excess?’ It’s called alcoholism.

      • I agree with both of you. I think there’s some big time rationalizing going on with some of the posters on this thread. “But I don’t have a problem if … ”

        Frankly I think the whole concept of having to “pretend” you’re drinking alcohol when you’re not (by ordering vodka & tonic, by spitting it out, etc.) is evidence that the culture you’re in is a dysfunctional culture. People who use alcohol wisely and responsibility don’t check on whether others are drinking too and they don’t chide them if they aren’t.

  56. This thread has officially made me scared shit-less. Are you people -driving- after drinking like this?

    I don’t understand the drinking culture at all. During my first job as an attorney I typically would drink perhaps a few times a month, usually when exceptionally stressed out, and my husband and I decided to get all the alcohol out of the house because I was worried that I was associating alcohol with relaxing. I drank very rarely in college and only a few times while in law school. I always kept well within my limits, and I never thought it was “fun”.

    I knew students who drank to excess and had problems as a result, but I had no idea that regularly consuming alcohol and getting drunk was – and is – so common among my peers.

    I can’t imagine this is healthy.

    • I think that most attorneys don’t live in cities where it is the norm to drive to work, so you can be less scared. I certainly don’t know a single person who drives drunk, and I know a lot of drunks.

  57. I have a minor bone to pick with Corporette’s contention that women without children have “less real responsibility.” Maybe I am reading this into it, but to me it smacks of a value judgment that motherhood is somehow supreme to all other achievements or obligations or commitments a woman could undertake. I certainly don’t feel like I am running around fancy-free just because I don’t have children, or, more to the point, that my responsibilities are less “real”.

    Conversely, just because a woman DOES have children doesn’t necessarily mean that she will always (or should) put those children above everything else. I say this as someone who spent *a lot* of nights out on the town in bars with my own mother when I was a small child.

    • “smacks of…” hmm, let me guess. you wandered over here from jezebel?

      • Well, for the folks still following: if you don’t have children, would you describe your life as consisting of “less real responsibilities”? Think about your work responsibilities to clients, other family responsibilities, and whatever you consider your responsibilities to yourself. Are they “less real” ?

        Maybe I misunderstoof and Corporette meant “fewer” real responsibilities?

        • I think she meant fewer responsibilities. Kat doesn’t have children, so I doubt she was saying that women without children don’t have “real” responsibilities.

        • I think she meant “fewer”, not less significant/worthy/time-consuming.

        • I’ve had long periods in my adult life with no children and very important jobs, and I’ll freely say that I have a lot more real responsbility now as a parent than I ever have before. If my client were to lose a case because I didn’t properly review all the documents, a task I can do at various times of my own choosing, it’s money out of their pocket. If I did not keep my toddler out of the street, a task I can’t defer if I’m not in the mood to handle it right then, she gets killed by a passing car. That’s not the same thing as saying my responsibilities are more important — but they are definitely more real.

    • I think I read it differently. I think that women without kids do drink more. My co-workers with children can’t, on the spur of the moment, go out for happy hour and stay out until even 8 or 9 – they have babysitters and someone has to pick up the kids. Like someone else mentioned, a lot of non-child responsibilities can have a flexible schedule, but if the day care closes at 6, the day care closes at 6, and if you haven’t already scheduled back up, you can’t, spur of the moment, go out on the town. It’s hard to enjoy a glass of wine if you’re also trying to feed a toddler. So it’s not to say women without kids don’t have real responsibilities, it’s just that the type of responsibilities that come with children tend to be less flexible and impact alcohol consumption more.

      I don’t really want to broach the idea of having children in bars…that fight’s been had in the NY Times comments.

  58. 1) Do you drink to excess? No. I have about a glass-two glasses of wine a month, max. When I was in college and grad school, I would usually have a glass of white wine or a cocktail while the others were guzzling down on the beer when we went out. I also found that a lot of non-alcoholic cocktails are really tasty.

    My current job has a strict no-alcohol policy on the premises, but my former job was a lot more relaxed – with a regular Friday get-together with wine, bottles of wine for Christmas presents… but it was set up so it did not encourage mindless drinking.

    2) Why do you think that is? I have never liked the taste of beer, I don’t like the taste of most red wines, and I’m really particular about my cocktails, too. Furthermore, I don’t care for the feeling of being drunk, or the hangover the next day. I’m slightly introverted in unknown situations, and I’ve found that alcohol does not help with that feeling – I just withdraw even more.

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? I don’t drink on “school nights” normally. If I go out to eat, then I tend to order water with my meal. If I meet up with friends, I go for the non-alcoholic choice. On weekends, and for parties, I tend to restrict myself to a couple of glasses of wine, and then only infrequently.

    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer? I love a good Shirley Temple or a Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri for the non-alcoholic cocktails. A slightly sweet white wine is also perfect.

    I’ve never been one of those who’ll head out and drink like mad for the weekend, so getting out of school hasn’t changed my habits noticeably. What changed them slightly, was moving to a smaller city (and another country) than where I studied – the choice in drinks, and the cost was not the same as where I lived before.

  59. I don’t drink at all, out of health reasons and preference, but used to a lot. I’m embarrassed by that history. I’m amazed at the cultural prominence of it- when you don’t, it’s incredible how many people and functions revolve around it. Over time, I’ve found groups where it doesn’t- e.g. friends with a common love of certain types of dance who love to hang out but not get wasted- and find that they are more interesting, happier types on the whole. That said- I miss having an occasional glass of wine. Maybe again someday.

  60. anonymous :

    Motivated to comment because I’ve worked as an attorney in two different states and can confirm that drinking varies with geography.

    For the first 7 years out of law school I worked at a big firm, a prosecutor’s office and a small firm–all in Colorado. Drinking was the norm and sometimes to excess (especially after trials ended). The big firm attorneys drank the most, the prosecutor’s office attorneys a close second and at the small firm everyone drank but not together and not to excess. One more than one occaision at the big firm we were served alcohol to celebrate big wins/settlements/etc. At the prosecutor’s office once in awhile a chief would mix daquaris on a Friday afternoon but going out for happy hours was more the norm. At the small firm we did not socialize much together at all.

    The last three years I’ve worked as an attorney in government in Idaho. NO ONE drinks here and alcohol is rarely, if ever served, at events. The reason? Most people are LDS (Mormons) and if not, do not want to drink in front of LDS coworkers for fear of being judged. My office Christmas party does serve alcohol (cash bar) but few people drink, again, not wanting to be noticed by the Mormon higher-ups-drinking has very negative connotations with this group of people. My co workers that are not Mormon never do happy hours together and we do not socialize much together either. Because of my job I do not socialize at all with attorneys in private practice so I cannot comment on their drinking habits, but with 40% of the population being LDS and another good portion being very religious my guess is the drinking is not prevalent among them either.

    Myself? I drink, rarely to excess, almost exclusively red wine & occaisionally gin and tonic. I get terrible hangovers and this stops me from over-indulging. I definitely drank more and went out more as an attorney in Colorado. I miss the commaraderie with co workers here in Idaho and hate the idea that I am being judged if I drink at an event but that is the reality here. If you are religious, don’t drink for whatever reason, etc. Idaho would be an ideal place to work and escape the kind of social pressures described in the comments. Personally, I cannot stand my tax dollars being spent on what boils down to a theocracy and detest the religious zealotry that seems to be combined with serious racial and religious bigotry and homophobia. My husband and I were very naive about the culture here and thought that because we were moving to the biggest city here (Boise) in what was supposed to be the most “liberal” county (Ada) that life would not be too different than Colorado. We were completely wrong and are planning to move out of state as soon as possible. The drinking issue is not a motivation to move, it is a symptom of the problem–constant judgment and living in a repressive environment governed by old, white men who use religion as a weapon. In some ways, this non-drinking atomosphere is more toxic and demoralizing than working with a bunch of alcoholics.

  61. Anonymous :

    Great topic!! And the responses so far have been really interesting. I am an attorney and I worked at a medium sized firm for 5 years, and now I am at a smaller firm. We do transactional work and mostly corporate litigation. So the days can be stressful…

    1) Do you drink to excess?
    Not usually, unless it is the occassional bachelorette party, or something like that. I usually never go beyond 3-4, because I just don’t like being hung over the next day! At 36, I just can’t rebound like I could in college. I like my Saturdays and Sundays too much to ruin them by being immobile on the couch. ;)

    2) Why do you think that is?
    I don’t like getting totally out of control and sloppy, and I don’t like being really hung over.

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    During a school night, I’ll usually have a glass of wine or two with dinner. I drink and eat like a European (at least, I do in my mind), so I can’t see having dinner without a glass of wine. I’m not trying to be a snob here, but I spent a lot of time doing volunteer work in Italy and France as a college kid, so I really just like the lifestyle. Now if we could just revamp our working hours and vacation time to be like the French and Italians….life would be grand! Also, I was married to a head chef at a very fancy restaurant for several years (whose family was Italian), and having wine with dinner was just the way we ate.

    3b) Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    As far as wine is concerned, I love it all. Except for white zinfandel, but that’s not really a wine, is it? ;) During the work week, I usually done spend more than $10 to $12 on a bottle. I have a few go-to’s. I adore French wine, but it is more expensive, so that’s usually reserved for special occassions. As far as beer is concerned, I drink Newcastle, Bass, and Fat Tire most often. For cocktails, I stick to vodka tonics or cosmos (I know, it’s so 2001!)

    3c) What do you toast to?
    Life. A hard days’ work. An easy day’s work. I love to sit down to dinner and savor the wine with my food. I love to think about who picked the grapes and how the weather was that year —- I know I am veering into “Sideways” territory here, but I have always felt that way about a bottle of wine. It is so much more than just grape juice or something to wash the food down with! It also signifies the sharing of talk and friendship; when my girlfriends come over, we always talk and share over a bottle of wine and some food.

    4) Have you ever worried you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    Sometimes I feel bad because the Puritanical roots we have here in the US say “don’t drink everyday” or “don’t drink alone”! But then I remind myself that in other countries, having a glass or two of wine is perfectly normal, and is expected. So, I try to not let the American sensibilities deter me too much from enjoying myself.

    I hope I don’t sound too much like a person who loves all things European, and hates the US! That is not the case at all, I just don’t accept the way we think here as the be-all end-all. That being said, I love my country. It’s always refreshing to run into Americans abroad, becuase they are so happy and friendly! (A fact which annoys certain European folks….not that I would name the country(s) specifically!!)

  62. I’m a lawyer in a large city in NC. Well, large by NC standards! ;) I worked for a medium sized firm for 5 years, and now I work at a smaller firm. I do mostly corporate litigation.

    1) Do you drink to excess?
    No, unless it’s a bachelorette party or something like that — then, I have been known to indulge a bit too much! For me, anything more than 3 or 4 drinks is excessive, based on the fact that I’m hung over the next day and I get a little out of control in the moment!

    2) Why do you think that is?
    I don’t like to be hung over during the week, because I can’t think straight! And I don’t like being immobile on the weekends, because they are so precious to me. I don’t usually work on the weekends, or, if I do, only a little (barring a trial or hearing). I love to garden, shop, decorate, read, travel, work out, walk, etc., so I hate for my only free time to be wasted feeling horrible!

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    During a school night, I’ll have a glass of wine or two with dinner. I almost always have wine with my night-time meal, because I love good food and I savor the taste of wine with it. It’s pretty much the same on the weekends, only I will stay up later. I was married to a fancy chef (whose family was Italian), so it really became a way of life for me. Also, I spent a lot of time over many years in college (yes, the five year plan) studying abroad, working, and/or doing volunteer work in Europe, mostly in Italy and France. So, I observed and participated in the nightly ritual of good food and wine, and I liked it. Very much.

    3b) Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    I love all types of wine, except white zinfandel (which isn’t really wine, is it?) hee hee….For nightly dinners, I generally spend about $10 to $12 a bottle. I have my go-to’s that are consistently good, like the ubiquitous Ravenswood Zinfandel, or anything Mondavi, and lately, if I’m feeling cheap, Rex-Goliath Zinfandel (at $5.99 it’s a steal and trust me, fruit-forward, no tannins, full bodied and delicious). I love french wines, but hey, they’re expensive, so that is mostly saved for a dinner party or a special occassion. My boyfriend is a total champagne whore (‘scuse me!), so sometimes we’ll indulge in some ridiculously priced champagne. Usually on New Year’s Eve. It seems obligatory. For beer, I drink Newcastle, Bass, and lately, Fat Tire. As far as liquor, the occassional vodka tonic or cosmo (I know ladies, so 2001!) will do.

    3c) What do you toast to?
    Life. A hard day’s work. An easy day’s work. Mostly, I just love the sense of sharing, specialness and conviviality that a bottle of wine brings to dinner. It seems to lighten the load, relax, and make sharing and talking and laughing easier. I love to invite a friend over, or a lover, and have a bottle of wine and some food. To me, it represents sharing and friendship. And it complements food so well! I am a total hedonist in many ways.

    I associate wine as being much more than a bottle of grape juice, it represents history and a particular place and moment in time. There were people who picked the grapes, there might have been rain one year, a family that lived nearby or one that moved…the taste of the terrior in french wines that goes back hundreds and hundreds of years…all of it is just fascinating to me. I know, I am veering a little into “Sideways” territory here, but since working in Italy for 3 months one summer when I was 20 years old, and listening, and learning, I have always felt this way about wine…

    4) Have you ever worried you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    Sometimes, and I regret thinking that. Here is what I think, and this is completely my own opinion and one that was shaped by my own unique experiences. Everybody is different, but I think my point of view and life are unique, and so maybe it’s worth sharing. Maybe.

    I think that in the U.S., because we were a Puritan society, we have a lot of “issues” with sexuality and drinking. Too much is a good thing, but to me, so is too little. I only feel bad about having a glass of wine or two at night when the puritanical, evangelical Christian up-bringing I have rears its head. Then I just remind myself that it’s all in what you know…in many countries, having wine is a part of life. It never occurred to people in France to think “I might have a problem if I have a glas of wine at night with dinner.” That thought is absurd to a Frenchman. They think you’re weird if your’e NOT drinking a glass of wine with dinner. So, for me, I try to edit out the puritanical guilt that I sometimes feel.

    And just to say this — no, I don’t drink and drive! And I do love my country and I’m not one of those crazy let’s-move-to Europe gals! But, it’s healthy to accept certain things and reject certain things, and make your own way in this life, rather than just accepting a certain way of life as the be-all, end-all.

    Cheers, ladies!!

  63. Sorry, I didn’t mean to post twice!!

  64. 1) Do you drink to excess?
    Rarely. I get drunk maybe once every year or two. Used to drink more.

    2) Why do you think that is?
    I hate the feeling of being drunk, and I don’t handle alcohol well, so I mostly just feel tired and sick if I have one too many. I also don’t want the extra calories. If I’m going to indulge, it’s usually going to be in a burger or a dessert. Drinking just causes me to eat more to soak up the alcohol, which means even more extra calories.

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    One drink before or with dinner, or maybe two drinks tops. Same on either a school night or weekend. I occasionally drink at home – usually bourbon on the rocks to relax, or a beer on a hot day.

    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    I drink Manhattans (Makers) in cold weather and Gibsons (Beefeater, usually) in hot weather, for the most part. I also will drink bourbon or gin on the rocks. A Singapore Sling is also a real treat in hot weather but few bartenders know how to make them. I can’t drink wine and I’m very careful about beer due to a pretty severe sulfite allergy.

    Fine, and 3c: what do you toast to?)
    Usually whomever I’m drinking with.

    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much?
    No. Even in college or law school, when I got drunk more often, it was still only once a month or so. I never really liked being drunk.

    • Oh, and I forgot – I have drank the office, but only when others are drinking, i.e. at a social event held at the office. I would not find it inappropriate if someone who was working late eating dinner at the office had a glass of wine, or ordered a beer or wine at a business lunch. But I’d find it very inappropriate for someone to be drinking at work just to drink instead of to accompany a meal.

  65. I am a lawyer…and while I don’t ever get drunk anymore…I do have a glass of wine more nights then I probably should…

  66. I don’t drink at all. I don’t have any reason not too, I just don’t. I’ve never felt any social/work pressure to drink, and I’m actually quite shocked when I hear about people pretending to drink liquor when it’s really a Diet Coke.

  67. 1) Do you drink to excess? Very rarely! Did my fair share of that in college… these days if it happens, it wasn’t on purpose!
    2) Why do you think that is? Because I’m over it, plain and simple. I’d rather enjoy a beverage than slam 6 in a row for fun.
    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night? On a weeknight, if I am drinking it’s probably one drink, and probably not even finish it – since I’m usually driving home shortly thereafter.
    3b: Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer? I love amaretto sours, merlot or Riesling, Miller lite or a Blue Moon!
    3c: what do you toast to? Usually good things :)
    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it? Nope, I’ve never been a big drinker – even in college when I did it… I probably only did it once or twice a month (and I mean going out and binge drinking for sport.)

  68. 1) Do you drink to excess?
    No usually. The occasional times have been on vacations, bbq’s, weddings, christmas eve, etc. Basically, when I’m with the family and not worried about driving. And if I make a donkey out of myself, heck, it’s just family, not my boss, co-worker, etc.

    2) Why do you think that is?
    Excess is drinking too much that it prevents me from functioning properly the next day, which could be as small as a bad headache or all day belly aches. Nothing is worth feeling sick for.

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?

    School night/work night – might be a happy hour (1-2 beers after work) or a beer. On the weekend – I almost never drink, unless it’s a BBQ, wedding, special event… special dinner.

    When I go to events with an open bar – I usually order a rum w/diet. The next time around, I order a diet coke on the rocks (usually the bar tender smiles) and stick with that..maybe have another run/diet later on. I have never had anyone give me a hard time about not drinking at an event.

    3b) Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    Love, love, love, love, love margarita’s! Love patron silver.
    Also, I’m a beer snob: amstel light, yuengling, sam adams, blue moon.

    3c) what do you toast to?)
    Everything. There is always something to … exams are done, classes are over, job offer, no offer, sun is shining, good health, happiness, love…

    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it?

    My first two years of law school I realized I drank too frequently. I was not drinking in excess, but my social life revolved around alcohol. When I realized that, I quickly changed. I go to social events with alcohol once per semester… end of the semester usually. And to keep in touch with friends, I meet up with them for lunch on the weekends… or for coffee before class.

    Drinking at work:
    I work for a higher education instititution – and we’ve been known to drink at work, but always for events – holiday party, st. patrick’s day, etc. My boss has some aged scotch in his overhead compartment of his desk. I have never been comfortable drinking during work hours, because I’ve questioned my work quality. Would I want someone processing my papers, drafting my docs, when they’ve had a couple? Probably not.

  69. windy city :

    When I was with the BIG firm, a friend and mentor was drinking at least three double G&Ts every night, before going out to eat or home for dinner where she would down a bottle of wine. I used to try to keep up; it seemed to please her that I could.

    In December I had a biopsy on an “unknown mass” in my right breast. It turned out to be benign, but alcohol consumption is now acknowledged as a major risk factor for breast cancer according to the American Cancer Society webpage. As much as I enjoyed the “macha” lifestyle, I’ll take no more “masses” over the best tequilla any day.

    • Your friend and mentor started her night with three double G&Ts (so, really, six drinks) every night?

      Good lord. I’m glad you are okay after your scare, and I hope she gets help.

  70. As a lawyer, it seems to me conferences are where the most alcohol drinking happens, e.g., entertaining clients, etc. Even so, several of my clients don’t drink alcohol so it is never uncomfortable for me to turn down alcohol for a soda or water. I have a two drink limit and I don’t drink if I’m going to be driving. Not drinking alcohol, e.g., during both pregnancies and when the kids were little, has never been a problem for me and I want to keep it that way. It’s tempting to use it as a depressant during stressful times, but I’ve turned to exercise and spending time with family instead. I have friends and relatives that are recovering alcoholics and I definitely don’t want to go down that road.

  71. Legally Lizzy :

    1) Do you drink to excess?
    No. If I am feeling drunk, I stop.

    2) Why do you think that is?
    Honestly? My parents were never big drinkers; they would often split a glass of wine when we went out to dinner, but I never saw them drink any other type of alcohol while I was growing up. I have also seen far too many lovely people make themselves look like idiots in public after one too many drinks.

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    School night: maybe a glass of wine with dinner once or twice a week. Weekend night: maybe a cocktail or two, but not more than once or twice a month.

    3b) Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    I love KAZ wines (small winery in Kenwood, CA), kamikazes, mojitos, and authentic margaritas. I can also usually be tempted by a good dessert wine.

    3c) What do you toast to?
    Surviving a tough day, succeeding in a tough class (yay law school!), getting the job or role I was hoping for, or someone making it through another year of life in general.

    4) On the more serious side — have you ever worried that you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    My first semester of law school saw me consuming more cocktails and beer than previously, which worried me. I decided to cut back before things got out of hand — now I go to the gym or shop online to relax instead!

  72. Hi there…not sure if my profession has been covered yet, but if it hasn’t – it should be. I think being a lobbyist may be one of the most drink-heavy professions. We don’t work the late hours of lawyers or bankers…but every evening is an event…fundraisers, political events, taking clients to dinner, hanging out with important contacts, etc. And all of those events involve alcohol. Before you know it, you’re drinking daily without planning to.

    Here we go:

    1) Do you drink to excess?
    On personal times, sometimes. In work settings, never to the point of regretting anything said or done the next day, and never more so than my superiors that may be present.

    2) Why do you think that is?
    Drinking to excess? I think long hours and intense pressure at work leave one trying to enjoy one’s remaining hours of the day to the greatest extent possible. I certainly can’t wind down from the day (especially if it’s been a late day) by cooking dinner and painting. Maybe others can – and that’s great. But a glass of wine (or two or three) really do help me relax. I feel odd saying it out loud, but I challenge anyone to say they drink for the taste of alcohol by itself. :)

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    During highly stressful times, a school night involves splitting a bottle of wine with my boyfriend. Weekend nights are strangely less alcohol-filled. I’ll likely drink more hard liquor than wine given I’m out at a bar or lounge, not sitting at home making dinner, etc.

    3b) Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    Best bad day hard drink: Ketel One dirty martini.
    Best good day hard drink: Patron Silver margarita on the rocks.
    Best higher-end red wine: Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon.
    Best higher-end white wine: Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc.
    Best inexpensive but delicious red wine: Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon; Dynamite Cabernet Sauvignon
    Best inexpensive but delicious white wine: Still searching…
    Best champagne: Veuve Cliquot.

    3c) What do you toast to?

    4) Have you ever worried you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    Yes, often. I make empty promises about only drinking on weekends, only drinking wine, only drinking one glass an evening. But the next day will always present some challenge or reason to celebrate. :)

  73. a. Stewart :

    My profession hasn’t been covered yet but it absolutely should be: engineering. I know there aren’t as many women historically in my field, but there is definitely a “boy’s club” mentality and a lot of people get caught up in the culture.

    It starts right in school. The motto of most engineering schools is “work hard, play hard.” A lot of students come to relate relaxation and socializing with alcohol consumption. It’s definitely part of the “rowdy engineer” image so that pranks, traditions, and faculty pride are all tied to alcohol. As a women in engineering, you can feel the pressure to fit in and act like a “real” engineer.

    Luckily, the beer-obsessed/fratboy culture is something that’s fading with time and I think diversity of our universities has really helped. Many people do not drink because of religious tradition so our student societies always provide non-alcoholic alternatives and try to plan more events that don’t involve alcohol at all.

    1) Do you drink to excess?
    Sometimes. I always count my drinks and make sure to be aware of my motivations to drink. If I’m feeling hurt, sad, bored, or lonely I try and deal with those issues and won’t drink. If I overindulge, it’s when I’m out celebrating with friends. I give myself some rules: never drink my dinner or cab money, never more than three a night. I’ve never had a hangover so I guess it works. I consider a beer and a bath one of life’s pleasures.

    2) Why do you think that is?
    My mother’s family has a history of alcoholism and my father’s family has a history of mental illness. Both my father and my only sibling have been diagnosed with manic depression so I’m more careful about my moods/motivations than others. The goal is more balance and a life of moderation so I moniter not only my drinking but my food, sleep and exercise habits as well. It’s all part of the package :)

    3a) What does a typical night of drinking look like for you, during a “school night” and during a weekend night?
    I will have one bottle of beer with my roommates or boyfriend while watching a show or at dinner, or in the tub, usually after finishing a lab report or assignment. This’ll only happen once or twice every month. I never go out to the bars on weekdays and sometimes go weeks without drinking without noticing it. I drink for taste, not intoxication.

    3b) Any favorite cocktails, types or brands of wine, liquor or beer?
    Mill Street Organic beer, but I like most light beers. I’m in chemical engineering so I appreciate beer like a chef appreciates pastry.

    3c) What do you toast to?
    Not failing out! My awesome roommates.

    4) Have you ever worried you drink too much? What have you done about it?
    No because I never drink mindlessly or out of habit. I also have some very good friends who don’t drink but are very good dancers. Going out with them there is never any pressure to “have to” drink.