people cheersing at bar

Welcome to Life in Spirits, a series featuring dispatches from booze industry professionals including bartenders, brand reps and distillers. For this round, we’ve got Diana Novak, a spirits educator, frequent traveler, and fitness fanatic who works with more than 15 different brands of alcohol. She’ll tell us what it means to be on the road 200+ days a year, and offer tips on how to stay healthy when drinks are your job.

Which parties are you hitting tonight?

This all-too-often question is what you’ll hear posed at industry events like Tales of the Cocktail, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America and cocktail weeks around the country. So often in the adult beverage industry, we create our relationship in the environment we are most comfortable—and more often than not, that environment is a bar.

For those of us in the industry, deftly navigating your work requirements, seeing your friends, supporting your brands and finding new and exciting spirits—all while maintaining a healthy lifestyle while you drink—can be a difficult feat. But everyone who must entertain clients or simply enjoys going out with friends and colleagues—and still has to be at work the next day—can benefit from a few tips to make those nights (and following mornings) go more smoothly.

So below: a few tricks to employ the next time you’re at a bar or party, and still want to feel your best.

Seriously, You’ve Got to Hydrate

Hydration is the absolute key to the puzzle of drinking and not feeling terrible the next morning. Drinking large quantities of water throughout the day is ideal, but incorporating water consistently into your drinks regimen is integral to keeping your blood alcohol level at bay and your head clear. And while there should be no real pressure to imbibe, we all feel it sometimes—we all want to be part of the party. So if you’re feeling self-conscious about drinking water while all your friends or colleagues are knocking back tequila, try ordering soda water with lime. This will not only hydrate you, but can pass as a cocktail to quell the overzealous encouragement of others.

bar bottles

Skip the Sugary Mixers

Once you’ve gotten to the event in question, it’s time to make the right decisions when ordering drinks. If everyone around you is drinking shots, ordering strong cocktails or otherwise really going for it, you’ll want to slow things down. And easy way to do that—while still keeping a drink in hand—is to drink your booze neat. A neat service of a spirit (straight, no ice, and not consumed as a shot) tends to last for a longer period of time. Slow sipping alongside a large glass of water is a great way to really appreciate the spirit you’re drinking, whether it’s for the first time or the fiftieth.

Embrace Lower Alcohol Drinks

Another approach to staving off drinks-induced regret is to capitalize on the trend of lower ABV cocktails, wine-based libations and even mocktails that are popping up on menus across the country. I still recommend mixing in a lot of water, as that’s just good sense. But opting for lower alcohol (and therefore lower sugar) cocktails will help you stick things out without worrying about the headache the next morning.

And while consumption determines how the next day will go, don’t overlook the power of a good night’s sleep. I’ve got no doubt that you can tie one on until the sun comes up, but don’t be a hero. We’ve all got our favorite hair of the dog remedies, but some things can only be cured by rest.

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