Chrissy Teigen quit booze, but she’s not the only one who can hang at a work party without alcohol
It’s not unusual to see 37-year-old Brett David dancing on the bar shirtless, making out with a stranger on any night of the week.
That’s actually the very behavior he condones as creative director at Lower East Side whisky bar Rochelle’s in New York City, where he oversees an intoxicating mix of twenty-somethings on Tinder dates, wild bachelorette parties and the after work happy hour crowd.
But unlike the majority of his clientele, he has just as much fun on or off the clock, stone cold sober.
“Some people say ‘why would you open a bar if you don’t drink?’” he tells Moneyish. “I’m just not a drinker because I don’t like it, and it doesn’t make me feel better about myself. I can’t operate a strong bar if I’m drunk seven days a week. It’s a business and I have to take it seriously. If I screw it up it’s all gone,” he adds.
The native New Yorker says he doesn’t do drugs either and is used to mingling with people constantly for work, being essentially the bar’s party planner, so the initial anxiety has long gone away.
“People don’t understand how I can be over the top and wild and crazy, literally getting on stage doing karaoke in front of hundreds of people; I’m just a personality guy. I can stay out until six in the morning and rage on just good vibes.”
David realized he had to stop drinking in 2009, when he had a bad combination of a dozen Coronas and the same amount of Southern Comfort whisky shots one night while out celebrating his 29th birthday. At 4 a.m. when the lights came on, he fell down a flight of stairs, threw up in the middle of a Chelsea diner and had to hail a cab home.
“Back then that was something I could handle. I don’t want to be known as the guy who runs the bar that’s a f—–g wreck,” he admits, of the bar he helped open and run in 2013.
One in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge, according to the Center for Disease Control. And binge drinking is more common in adults aged 18 to 34. For some, having a drink or two to let off some steam while mingling with co-workers is the norm, but one too many turns ugly real fast. Just ask model Chrissy Teigen, who announced recently that she quit drinking because she was boozing on the job too much.
“I got used to being in hair and makeup and having a glass of wine. Then that glass of wine would carry over into me having one before the awards show. And then a bunch at the awards show. And then I felt bad for making kind of an ass of myself to people that I really respected,” Teigen told Cosmopolitan. “It’s not a good look for me, for John, for anybody.”
But not being able to drink on the job doesn’t have to be awkward if you know how to act around colleagues. Just don’t sweat it if someone asks you about it, career coaches say.
“Nobody’s really watching you, but you don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb. It depends on who makes the comment. If it’s the boss, and he or she is likely to look at you askance if you don’t drink, then you might want to say you just finished a drink and are taking a break before heading back to the bar,” New York-based career coach Maggie Mistal suggests.
“If the person making the comment isn’t likely to affect your career trajectory, then I feel you can be honest and say that you just don’t drink.”
Mistal also recommends arriving early to the event so you can network with all the important execs while they’re sober.
Robert Loftus, 26, has been sober for one year after battling alcohol and drug addiction. He works in construction, and his co-workers booze heavy at holiday parties so much so that he opted out for years. But with time, he was able to overcome the anxiety of feeling awkward or out of place at a party.
“Holding a drink is like muscle memory – having a Red Bull can in my hand is relieving when I’m around alcohol. I don’t feel out of place having something in my hand. It helps me feel less awkward around people who are drinking,” he says.
Loftus says staying sober has also helped him make more meaningful connections with people.
“Socially I find that I make a lot more genuine connections with people. When I was drinking, I felt like my social interactions were less authentic and now I can talk from a place that’s not muscled by alcohol and drugs. I can actually contribute. I’m not just physically present, but mentally,” he adds.
Others serve up a cocktail of confidence when co-workers or friends raise an eyebrow when they reveal they’re sober by choice at the corporate party.
“I occasionally get the quizzical stare and they ask me why. I like to keep it simple and say ‘I don’t like the way it tastes,’ but I like being sober and in control of my actions and words,” Nicole Vacca, a 26-year-old from The Bronx says.
When meeting someone new at a work outing where liquor is served, Vacca, who works in real estate, grins and bears it.
“I tend to get a little more chatty when I’m nervous, so I’ll funnel that energy, take a deep breath, and put on a big smile when I introduce myself to people. Over time the nervousness dissipates,” she admits.
“I don’t need to drink to loosen up and have fun–I’m always one of the first people on the dance floor or at the karaoke mic, and I savor the adrenaline rush that kicks in. ‘Do it scared’ is my motto.”
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