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Although I am a proponent of drinks on a first date rather than dinner, you still need to know your limits. Unless it’s the type of date where you want to get smashed and go home with someone (which is perfectly fine), try to keep yourself conscious.
Drink slowly. Enjoy the conversation. If you tend to drink faster when nervous, order a glass of water with your drink. Don’t think about going out to get drunk, just think about going out to meet and learn about someone.
Shots are probably be a bad idea.
Stick with what you know. If you don’t normally drink cocktails, don’t order one. Even if your date does. Stay with alcohol that is familiar to you because something might affect you in an unexpected way. This is fine to learn with friends (or on later dates) but first dates aren’t the time to experiment (with booze or food – getting sick at the end of a date from either is never charming).
Conversely, you can go out for coffee or non-alcoholic drinks. This might have a time limit but can still be appropriate.
All of this comes down to what you’re expecting to get out of the date but, at least the first time, don’t push it. There is nothing attractive about someone falling over, throwing up, turning into an asshole, and losing control in general.
Story time: My friend Nate had a first date with a woman at a local Starbucks. When she arrived, it was clear that she was already quite drunk.
My friend was alarmed by that and by the fact the date drove there. Trying to help the girl out, he asked for her phone then called one of her friends to come get her and take her home. When the friend arrived, she yelled at Nate asking him what he did to her friend and was pretty ungrateful.
Fast forward a few days later, Nate gets a call from the date’s friend apologizing that she didn’t understand the situation and asked if he would like to go out sometime.
Moral of the Story: Stay classy