The Art of Drinking: Finding the Optimum Drinking Formula

“Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you’re allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. It’s like killing yourself, and then you’re reborn. I guess I’ve lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives now.” – Charles Bukowski

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Man has been drinking alcohol for over 9000 years, and for the last 9000 years has been trying to solve the same age old problem: How to avoid “Beer Goggles”. (No, not really)

The real problem man has been trying to figure out is how to keep the alcohol buzz going for the longest period of time without getting too drunk or too sober and without having a hangover. That’s a tall order but I am going to explain the best system that I came up with to answer that age old question and how it can help you drink better.

But first a quick back story: There was a time in my life when I was learning to become more social and good with the opposite sex so I would go out to bars and clubs 3 or 4 times a week. I would force myself to socialize with people, something which was very hard for me. I did this for a few years, and became very good and comfortable in social situations. I was never a big drinker but after about a year of going out I found myself drinking more and more. There was a period for about 12 months that I could legally be considered drunk at least 3 times a week. I made sure I was never over the legal limit when I drove home by keeping a breathalyzer in my glove box. (I also never drank more than 5 drinks a night) But never the less, I was drunk most Friday and Saturday nights and at least one other night during the week. Over that year which I call “My Drinking Year” I met a great number of women, got into a lot of harmless decadent stupidity and had a lot of indulgences. After about a year, I noticed a direct correlation between drinking and how I felt the next day. It’s not that I was physically hung over, that I could deal with, but it was a depression that started to creep in.

I noticed that if I drank one day, I would be depressed the whole next day. If I drank for two days in a row, I would be depressed for the next two days. I experimented with different types of liquors and mixers, but it made no difference. After a while, it was just not worth it for me. Since I only drank for the fun of it and I never needed it to be fun or social, stopping was pretty easy. So I started to go out to clubs and only drink bottled water. It was a pretty easy switch.

But during “My Drinking Year” I kept experimenting to find the optimum way to drink when I was out at a bar or club with friends. To me optimum drinking meant finding a formula for being able to maintain a buzz throughout the whole night without getting too drunk or not buzzed enough and ideally without getting a hangover.

For the most part, I think I found the right formula which worked for me and I think it should work for most people.

What to Drink:

The healthiest drink you can drink at a bar would be red wine due to its resveratrol content. But wine is a little bit of a different buzz and tends to cause nasty hangovers. If you’re in a crowded bar, the red wine often eventually ends up on your shirt, especially if you’re wearing white.

Darker liquors (Brandy, Rum, Whisky etc.) tend to cause more hangovers so they should be avoided as well. Beer makes you feel bloated since you need to drink 24 to 36 oz before the alcohol really kicks in. For me that leaves vodka. You do not need to drink a lot of vodka to get a buzz and it’s also a lot harder to smell it on your breath when you are talking to someone.

What Type:

For the most part, higher quality vodka gives less of a hangover so avoid the lower priced “house” vodkas. I preferred Skyy, Absolute or Chopin.

What to Mix with:

You can mix vodka with a lot of things but due to the possible hangovers you should avoid things with sugar like sodas, tonic or juice. Club soda works well. Unfortunately, Vodka & Soda combination tends to taste too strong for a lot of people. Luckily, flavored vodkas are available. You really can’t go wrong with berry, cherry, vanilla, orange or any other flavored vodka and soda.

How to maintain a consistent buzz:

I have tried a number of ways to pace myself by limiting 1 drink per half hour and other combinations. If you’re in a bar, it’s hard to keep up with time and after a while it gets too complicated when you are socializing and having fun to watch the clock. How the alcohol effects you is determined by many factors, such as when was the last time and how much you ate. (I recommend a meal a few hours prior to going out drinking, or a good solid “drinking base”. Drinking on an empty stomach is an express pass to drunk, I don’t recommend it.)

Here is the simplest, most successful formula I found that worked for me. I order a vodka and soda and drink it down within the first 15 minutes of arriving at a bar or club, then I order a bottled water. The bottled water will hydrate you and help you avoid a hangover and also pace you so you don’t drink too much, too quickly. After about 30 minutes, I am ready to order my second vodka drink. The second drink tends to take longer to consume, it may take me 30 minutes to complete it. Then it’s back to a bottle of water, which also tends to last about 30 minutes. Then back to Vodka. I find that 3 to 4 drinks was ideal for me if I am out between 10pm to 2am. Which works out to roughly 1 drink per hour, but the pacing of having the water in between is optimum for not drinking too fast or too slow. Stop drinking by 1am and you should be fine to drive home by 2am, but get a breathalyzer to be absolutely sure.


So the simple drinking formula I came up with for maintaining a good buzz for the whole night while minimizing hangovers:

  1. Order high quality pure or flavored vodka with club soda

  2. Order bottled water after each drink

  3. Back to step one.

  4. Stop drinking alcohol at least one hour before going home.

That’s it. This formula should work for most people if you pace yourself.

If you fear getting a hangover, I found the best prevention was drinking a bottle of Gatorade before going to sleep and have a big fatty breakfast in the morning.

Happy drinking! (Cheers!)


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