Socializing over a drink is a great way to get to know one’s co-workers better, or break the ice with a boss or the senior management, but it’s important to remember that there’s always an unspoken code of conduct at play. “There’s a curious mentoring process that happens over a drink where one’s boss may open up about things that he or she did wrong early on in their career, or even personal matters that the person would never bring up otherwise," says Priya Chetty-Rajagopal, a Bengaluru-based CxO search consultant. While this “gloves-off mentoring approach" is good reason to step out for a drink with your boss and colleagues, don’t forget that you have to go back to work the next day with the same set of people without embarrassing yourself.

Kushagra Nagrath, senior vice-president, F&B, The Phoenix Mills Ltd, which runs Bar Bar in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Pune, has seen how office parties and get-togethers can spin out of control. “There was this one time when a young man, otherwise considered very conservative, took off his shirt and started dancing on the table. We had to intervene and take that person to another corner of the bar so that he didn’t make a fool of himself in front of the senior management," Nagrath says. Bar managers and corporate grooming experts zero in on five common mistakes that people make while drinking with co-workers.

Never do shots or neat drinks

The idea is to loosen up a little but not make a spectacle of oneself. Suneeta Sodhi Kanga, a Mumbai-based corporate groomer, says: “Ideally, one shouldn’t exceed two glasses of wine or two smalls of whisky, vodka or whatever you are drinking. A person who can hold their liquor is perceived as dependable and leader material. Plus, if you have to go back to work the next morning, you don’t want to nurse a hangover." According to Ryan Fernando, a Bengaluru-based sports nutritionist and founder of Qua Nutrition, any alcohol above 60ml will enter the bloodstream directly, making one tipsy.

Never drink on an empty stomach

The other golden rule is to never drink on an empty stomach. “The last thing you should do at the end of a long working day is have a drink without eating first," says Fernando, who recommends snacking on something high in protein (nuts, a cheese sandwich, or non-vegetarian starters). This will line your stomach and slow down the rate of absorption of alcohol in your bloodstream. It’s also important to drink a glass of water between drinks to ward off a hangover, Kanga adds.

Don’t overshare or get personal

Avoid topics such as religion or politics, as well as sexual innuendos, Kanga suggests. Gaurav Gidwani, F&B director, Corum Hospitality (which runs The Bar Stock Exchange, Mumbai), talks of instances where corporate clients have gotten into heated arguments fuelled by drinking. “People’s behaviour often changes after a few drinks, so it’s important to be in control while out with business associates," he says. When it comes to personal matters, Kanga says, “While it’s okay to talk about one’s family, don’t whine or talk about how annoying your mother-in-law is." And, most importantly, never gossip about people you work with. “You do not want to be known as the office gossip," she adds.

Don’t get too close

Chetty-Rajagopal says that under workplace sexual harassment laws, a woman who feels sexually threatened or harassed by a colleague, even in an informal setting like a bar, can file a complaint under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) Act. “Be conscious of gender equations and never infringe on another’s personal space (leaning too closely, back-slapping, etc.), especially if it’s a woman," says Chetty-Rajagopal.

Don’t be cheap

According to Dipak Sharma, general manager, blueFROG, in Bengaluru, many young working professionals usually ask for separate food and drinks bills. Inform the waiter beforehand. Splitting the bill evenly or going Dutch is acceptable. “Sometimes, the boss will offer to pay. Accept graciously and thank him or her. But when the bill comes, always reach for your wallet. That’s the done thing," Kanga adds.

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Fernando’s sure-fire hangover cure

Had too much to drink and need to be up bright and early for work the next day? Here’s a detox drink.

Ingredients: 1 raw egg, 300ml ice or cold water, half a bunch of coriander leaves, 1 cucumber, roughly chopped

Method: Blend the coriander and cucumber with ice or water. Strain and beat in the raw egg. Drink up!

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