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Is It Ever OK to Drink During Your Lunch Break?


The return of AMC’s Mad Men for its final season brings about mixed feelings for a lot of viewers. There’s some sadness that it’s almost over, but it’s also a lot of fun to reacquaint ourselves with the characters, and culture, we’ve come to love. One aspect of the show that seems to have really made an impression, even with folks who don’t watch, is the drinking. In addition to introducing young people to old-timey cocktails like Manhattans and gimlets, the liquor fueled lifestyle of Mad Men left us in awe. For most of us, drinking during lunch is a rarity at best – a far cry from having wet bar in every office.

drinks at professional lunch

(Photo Credit: PhillipC/Flickr)

Still, even in 2015, some days the idea of having a drink during the workday can sound like a really great idea, but is it? The answer is, sadly, probably not. But, then again, it’s not completely out of the question. Here are some things to keep in mind.

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1. It kind of depends on who you are.

Obviously, having a drink at lunch is completely out of the question for a lot of professionals. Depending on the job you do (teaching and nursing spring easily to mind) you might not even have the option of considering it. But, let’s assume the world won’t end if you imbibe (lightly) at lunch. As we all know, people handle drinking differently. For some, one drink would largely go unnoticed or detract from the work at hand. But for others, not so much. Don’t take your own word for it though – pay attention to the social cues around you to know whether or not having one drink (please stick to one) might be an OK-ish thing for you to do before heading back to the office.

2. Seriously consider the professional consequences.

No matter what job you have, chances are your boss won’t love that you had a drink during the workday. Remember that even if you’re off the clock – you can still get fired for drinking alcohol at lunch. The harsh reality of paying a serious consequence for this tiny indulgence might be pretty unpleasant to wade through.

3. Do what your client does.

For some, drinking during a working lunch is actually kind of polite. If you’re out with a client, let them order first. If, and only if, they order a drink, you should feel like you can order one too, at least in most cases. Again though – stick to just the one.

4. Eat too, and don’t drive.

If you’re driving, ever, drinking should be totally off the table. But, having a nice stroll back to the office after a beer (and a meal – please don’t forget to eat) will do your head a lot of good and could help you transition back into work mode. In all likelihood though, you won’t get as much work done when you have a drink at lunch. Admit it; you know it’s true.

Have fun and be safe.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think it’s okay to drink during your lunch break? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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Alex MsherriOrdinary Geek Recent comment authors
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Depends. I worked at an Australian based company and they drink beer like we drink water so it made no difference or didnt matter if you drank or not as long as you got the work done. Part of going out to lunch seemed like a job requirement to drink. Lol. Most American companies dont allow it. I feel it depends on your job function. Im talking business here not healthcare or education or jobs like that. In that case,… Read more »

Alex M
Alex M

I’m a software developer and have held jobs in Rochester, NY, San Diego, Dallas, San Francisco, and Seattle. At every job I’ve worked, craft beers have been part of office culture, even during the work day when not on break. A lot of developes actually code more effectively when lightly inebriated, and it made for a playful and relaxed work environment. It really does depend on your profession.

Ordinary Geek
Ordinary Geek

I think it also depends on your industry, and what part of the country you live in. I used to work in the Advertising industry (in San Francisco), and it wasn’t at all unusual for folks to have a drink (or more) during a group Lunch, particularly if the client or department was paying. Now I’m an independent contractor, and can do whatever the hell I like (and I just finished a beer with my lunch of Mexican food. What… Read more »

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