An invitation to the races usually means a drink or two is on the cards.
And an invitation to Cheltenham to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with an Irish whiskey brand has the best kind of danger written all over it.
This week’s horsey jaunt with The Dubliner whiskey was the perfect place to put some of my new mindful drinking practices to the test ahead of the summer season, and while you obviously don’t have to drink booze at every social event going (I totally recommend doing some sober) it can be a lot of fun with the right bit of prep...
HOW TO DO DAYTIME DRINKING
Preferably breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is not the time to explore your inner drunkorexic and start swapping food calories for booze calories. Accept that this is the mother of all cheat days and make the most of it. You can get back on the wagon tomorrow.
2. PACE YOURSELF
Old advice, but still GREAT advice. A daytime boozing session should be treated as a marathon, not a sprint, the goal being to create and maintain a nice buzz without ever tipping over into Sidebar of Shame territory. Don’t start before lunchtime (unless you want a hangover by dinner time), go for long drinks like spritzers/shandies/light cocktails (we loved the Dubliner honeycomb and soda), choose a signature soft drink and then have one of these and/or water for every alcoholic drink. Drink more water. And some more. Drink gallons of water before bed.
3. KNOW YOUR LIMITS
We all have them, and just because the bar is free doesn’t mean that you have been bestowed with superhuman drinking powers. Try not to mix. Avoid the bottomless wine glass that often comes with lunch and say no to shots (at anytime). Embrace soft drinks. Don’t spend all day next to the bar/in the box and avoid temptation by getting out and about and enjoying the action.
4. SET BOUNDARIES
Booze is addictive: one drink will make you want another, then another, and repeat. It’s science, and this science sometimes leads to bad decisions so it's good to set some boundaries before the edges get blurred, whether that’s re money (decide on your budget before you go, take cash, ignore your credit cards), emotions (are there topics/people/situations you should avoid when tipsy?), men (beer goggles + boys in suits = danger! Stick with your wing woman/women if you want to minimise morning after regrets) or the booze itself (three drink rule? one drink an hour? no wine? If you’re trying to drink less choose whatever strategy works for you and don’t try to compete/keep up with the rest of the crew).
5. DRINK BETTER
Choose quality over quantity: champagne instead of prosecco, good wine over cheap plonk, top-shelf brands over dubious, no-name spirits. Your money won’t go as far but there's something very empowering about treating yourself as a VIP, plus your body will thank you for it the morning after.
6. DRESS APPROPRIATELY
Avoid anything a bit too short, too tight or too fiddly as nobody wants to be the one letting it all hang out after the fourth glass of Pinot. Keep accessories hassle-free: wedges, flats or small heels are a must, a cross-body bag that you probably won’t leave in the Portaloo is handy. Shades and a hat work well to hide any immediate daytime drinking effects.
7. PLAN FOR THE MORNING AFTER
Engineer a lie-in with the boss/babysitter, and rehydrate as soon as you wake up with water, a Berocca (or similar) and hot water and lemon juice instead of coffee. Have healthy breakfast ingredients in the house to stop you reaching for rubbish (try this hangover smoothie if you're feeling energetic, eggs on brown toast if not, or just a banana if even breathing is an effort) and know that 'hair of the dog' is only putting off the inevitable.
8. HAVE FUN
These 'how-to's' are only intended as fun guidelines for those of us who tend to get overexcited at the prospect of a Big Day Out. Nice booze should really be the cherry on top of a day filled with good people, great food, fresh air and - just maybe - a little bit of sunshine.