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How to Day Drink Without Falling Asleep at the Table

Stick to low-proof beverages, don’t forget to eat and hydrate, and most importantly, know when to quit

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The world of dining and drinking is an obstacle course wrapped in a labyrinth wrapped in a logic puzzle — it’s full of pitfalls, gray areas, and bewildering questions that really shouldn’t even be questions (How do I find the bathroom?) and yet, somehow, are. Fortunately, your friends at Eater are here to help: Life Coach is a series of simple guides to the arcane rituals of modern dining. Have a question or a quandary you’d like us to tackle? Drop Life Coach a line.

The cult of brunch is one that nearly everyone can agree on: Decidedly less dangerous (and arguably more fun) than Scientology, the lazy, midday repast of endless eggs Benedict variations and overpriced pancakes is mainly an excuse to narrow that pesky time window between getting out of bed and getting tipsy — in other words, to facilitate day drinking.

Boozing it up while the sun’s still high in the sky can make for a memorable adventure with friends, but it can also turn into a shitshow quickly — like when your BFF’s had five bloody marys and starts crying in the bathroom, or someone passes out face down at the table after too many picklebacks, rendering you forever banned from your favorite dive bar.

”Day drinking often — though not always — takes place on weekends between the hours of noon and 6 p.m.,” former Eater editor Kat Odell explains in her book Day Drinking: 50 Cocktails for a Mellow Buzz. On holidays — especially those that fall on Mondays and the days after Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the living is particularly lazy — many of us tend to expand that definition to include weekdays, but regardless of when your day drinking takes place, adhering to a few simple rules is essential to the success of your daytime revelry.

Eat first.

Obvious, yes, but padding your stomach with something of actual nutritious value before you starting pouring in the alcohol is essential, as it will slow the absorption of booze into your bloodstream; pounding mimosas when you’ve only had an Americano for breakfast will undoubtedly cut your day drinking endeavor short. In my unscientific opinion, a mixture of protein, carbs, and fat makes an ideal base: Think the aforementioned eggs Benedict, for example, or fried chicken and waffles, or avocado toast with a fried egg. (See? Brunch truly is tailor-made for drinking.)

Keep it low-proof.

Downing dirty martinis or other stout cocktails like Old Fashioneds is not a good day-drinking strategy. As Odell advises in her book, “in an effort not to get full-blown wasted, and instead maintain a mellow buzz, the answer here is: low-alcohol libations.” Most beers or ciders will fit the bill; if you really want to keep it mellow, try a beer cocktail like a shandy or a radler, which dials down the ABV with the addition of lemonade, orange or grapefruit juice, or soda. (A tasty and widely available premixed version is Stiegl Radler, which is a very mellow 2.5 percent ABV.) There are also plenty of lower-proof cocktails that are delicious: Think micheladas, Aperol spritzes, and yes, that old day-drinking favorite the mimosa.

Pick a drink and stick with it.

Switching it up a little is fine, but going from beer to wine to cocktails is a one-way ticket to Hangover Town. Though science doesn’t support the theory that mixing drinks makes hangovers worse, the drunker you get, the faster you’re likely to drink — so switching from beer to, say, tequila is a good way to get overly intoxicated. The safest bet is to pick one type of alcohol and stick with it — and on a related note, just say no to shots. There’s always one overeager day drinker in the group who wants to buy a round of Jagerbombs, and that is unequivocally not the path to successful day drinking.

Be sure to hydrate.

It truly cannot be said enough: DRINK WATER. Even if you consider yourself a veteran day drinker impervious to the effects of a full day of imbibing, your body still needs hydration. One glass of water between every drink is ideal, but realistically, just remembering to take frequent sips will go a long way toward preventing a hangover (and keeping you standing).

On a related note, al fresco drinking may be one of life’s great pleasures, but be sure to snag a patio seat that has shade: Too much sun will sap the energy out of you even quicker than your friend who won’t shut up about their last Overwatch marathon.

Snacks are essential.

Break up all the boozing by ordering some food; your drinking companions will thank you. Something greasy and salty and carb-heavy is generally a crowd-pleaser — think cheese fries, chips and queso, or fried pickles (you know, bar food). But resist the urge to tuck into a full-on meal, like a burger and fries, lest you lull yourself into a full-on food and alcohol coma.

Get a designated driver.

Whether it’s relying on a teetotaling friend who’s content to observe the rest of the group’s alcohol-fueled antics while sipping kombucha or simply hailing an Uber or Lyft, arranging alternative transportation is a must. Even if you’ve kept the drinks low-proof, spaced them out, and sipped water in between, you’re probably still not in any condition to drive. Do yourself, your friends, and everyone else on the road a favor and just don’t. (Side note: Do not be tempted by the electric scooter rentals that are probably littering the streets of your city. Many drunk people before you have tried and failed.)

Know when to quit.

Day drinking should typically conclude at or before sunset (continue drinking well into the night and that’s called a bender, which is a different story), and definitely call it quits earlier if you feel yourself starting to get totally hammered. Bid adieu to your friends, tip your server or bartender generously (you and your friends weren’t too obnoxious though, right?), and go home to your couch, multiple large glasses of water, and possibly some Bagel Bites.

Electrolytes are also beneficial, if you’re so inclined — Pedialyte is pretty effective (more like #pedialit, amirite?), though I personally prefer concentrated electrolyte drops that can be added to water. So long as you followed these tips and didn’t overdo it, you’ll likely wake up tomorrow feeling not half-bad — and if you do find yourself in rough shape, the internet is rife with questionable advice for curing a hangover.