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How to Cut Off the Drunk Cousin

Plus other ways to manage intake.


Try: “You’re Done for the Night.”
Dana Corey, floor manager at Employees Only, kicks out four to five belligerent drunks a night.

Here’s how: “It’s easier at a bar, because at that point, you have someone’s credit card. At weddings, it’s difficult. Usually, the open bar means someone’s going to hit the ground pretty hard. You don’t want to be the one who rains on someone’s parade. So offer them water, soda, something nonalcoholic, at first. Then say, ‘You’re done for the night.’ That’s my go-to phrase. I never grab anyone. Don’t put your hands on someone unless they aggressively put their hands on you. Make sure the person has a ride home. And when it comes to the point of dealing with someone who’s completely belligerent, and they’re still ordering booze, I just hand ’em a cup of water. That’s an easy way to tell someone, ‘You’ve had enough.’”


Illustration by Ellaphant in the Room  

No Whiskey Shots.
Robby Nelson, bartender at Prime Meats, on why — and how — to proof down the obligatory round of shots.

“You don’t want to put people over the top with a boozy whiskey shot. My suggestion? Get your hands on some amaro. Not only will it help everyone get past their full stomachs and onto the dance floor, but it’s lower proof than, say, the best man’s favorite tequila. Really want to step it up? Grab a case of Underberg and hand them out after dessert. It’s a licorice-y German digestif that comes in little, individual bottles, just two-thirds of an ounce each. Use cocktail straws to let your guests down the bottle in one quick sip.”


Illustration by Ellaphant in the Room  

Set Up a Water Station

Water is key to all-night drinking — in its absence, bad things happen. Get a large beverage dispenser (five gallons or more); set it up near the bar; fill with water, ice, and lemon slices; and ask a server to keep an eye on it and refill when necessary. If guests don’t have to ask a bartender for a glass of water, they’re more likely to hydrate frequently.


Illustration by Ellaphant in the Room  

And If You Must, Have a Cash Bar.
Mary Holland, a recently married writer, went there.

“I don’t consider myself a stingy person, but I am a realistic one, and I know that when free alcohol is flowing, people will drink it because it’s free. It’s a wedding, not a 21st-birthday bash, so don’t expect me to pay for your game of Truth or Shots. We provided beer and wine, but if anyone wanted the hard stuff, they could do it on their own dime. I’m looking at you, second cousin twice removed.”

Plus other ways to manage intake.

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