The average American consumes 2.3 gallons of alcohol per year, diluted into an untold number of drinks. Beer is the most popular among alcoholic beverages, and America topped the list of wine consumers in 2019.
But, it is not just alcoholic drinks that Americans love.
Back in 2018, bottled water was the most consumed ‘drink’ in America. Its share was a whopping 25% of all beverages consumed.
28% of Americans said they consumed a soft drink every day. Another 25% of Americans said they consumed an average of two cups of tea each day, and 64% of Americans admitted to drinking one cup of coffee daily.
When you’re in American company, you’ll get plenty of chances to show off your prim and proper drinking etiquettes.
So, here’s a brush-up of the basic beverage consumption etiquette, plus some peculiar and unspoken rules of drinking and ordering beverages in America.
Note: The legal drinking age in America is 21. If you are underage, consuming alcohol can land you in major trouble.
- Chew first, drink later. Don’t drink while you have food in your mouth. We know this is basic common sense, but it is important to remember it. Americans will be the first ones to consider you uncultured if you make a faux pas with the rule.
- If you are having a drink that contains crushed ice or ice cubes, don’t crunch the ice in your mouth. It is tempting, we know, but crunching on the ice in your beverage is known to cause tooth sensitivity in the long run.
- When you are at a picnic, barbecue, or in another casual setting, it is okay to have your beer or soft drink straight from the can or the bottle. But, when you have it with a meal, remember to use mugs or glasses. If you are hosting Americans, this should also help you serve the drinks in the right way.
- Your tea and coffee will usually be served with a spoon for stirring. Don’t leave that spoon in the cup; keep it on the plate or saucer.
- Want to cool down a hot drink? Do NOT take the ice cube from your glass of water to add to your hot beverage. For one, it isn’t considered good manners. Two, it will water down your drink, which isn’t great either.
- If you are having tea or coffee at a super casual place, you can dunk your biscuit, cookie, or donut in the beverage. However, resist your urge to dip and drink in any formal setting.
- Confused about what to do with your empty sugar packets and individual cream containers? Just keep them on the edge of your saucer or butter plate after you have crumpled them.
- In the event that you have spilled something on the coffeehouse table, be it coffee, water, milk, or even sugar, wipe it clean with a paper napkin. If the spill is sizable, let the waiter or associates know so that they can get it cleaned up.
- Ordering beverages from the drive-thru? Keep your orders to less than four items. If you need more beverages to go, order from inside the restaurant. Don’t hold up the customers behind you. Everyone is in a rush, and they need their dose of caffeine fast.
- In the U.S., cocktails are served with a lot of nonedible items. There is the basic straw, but there are also tiny paper umbrellas and swizzle sticks. They make the cocktails more Instagram-able. But, once you are done with the drink, don’t leave them in the glass itself. Keep them on your bread plate. Just the straws should remain in the glass after you are done.
- When having cocktails with nonedible decorative items at a party, keep the embellishments in your hand wrapped in a paper napkin until you can find a trashcan or bin.
- As for the garnish, even Americans are divided upon the right etiquette. Some people suggest that you eat it, while others are staunch believers in the fact that they are decorations and not appetizers. The embarrassment-avoiding cheat-sheet opines you to follow the lead of your accompanying Americans.
- When at a bar, restaurant, club, or pub, don’t say anything on the lines of “bring me your best” or “what do you suggest?” Just ask for the drinks menu. You wouldn’t want the waiter to bring the restaurant’s most expensive bottle of wine, right? So, decide what you want to drink for yourself.
- If you see someone making a toast, and everyone in your group is taking part, follow their lead. Don’t sip your drink while the toast is underway. Wait until after it is made, when everyone takes a drink.
- Don’t know how soon you should finish your drink? Drink at the host’s pace. It saves you from the awkwardness of a glass that is empty too soon, or being the only one with a filled glass while everyone else is done.
- Don’t tilt your head all the way back to finish that last drop of drink in your glass if you’re in a fine establishment. When you are in the company of well-mannered Americans, leave a few drops if you have to, but don’t make a show of yourself at the party.
- Going out for a meal? Don’t order mojitos with the main course, or any hard drink for that matter. Those are strictly for pre and post-dinner consumption. What to order with the meal then? Wine.
- Add a lesser-used word to your drinks dictionary – apéritif. These are alcoholic drinks that you should have before meals because they are good appetizers. Gin, vermouth, arak, and dry sherry are some aperitifs. Wondering what post-meal drinks are called? Digestives. Some examples are whiskey, brandy, tequila, cognac, and Grand Marnier.
- Even if you are not a wine connoisseur, it is good to know what food items to pair with what types of wine. With pasta, fish, and salad, order white wine. Reserve red wine for when you are having red meat, or your main course.
- For drinks with deserts, order either sweet wines or champagne. You can also choose a liqueur, if that is an option.
- When you are at a party, don’t ask the host to top off your glass. If the wine bottle or decanter is placed on the table, you are free to serve yourself. If not, it will be on the sideboard. That’s an indication that the host is in charge of filling glasses. They’ll soon see your emptying glass and oblige. Wait for that to happen, and don’t look too eager or impatient.
- We’ve all seen movies where the lady leaves the marks of her lipstick on the glass. That might look enchanting on screen, but reality differs. Those donning lipstick should be careful not to stain the glass while they drink. If that happens, just wipe away the stain with a tissue.
- Even if you’re eating something and then taking a sip, ensure you don’t leave food crumbs on the glass rim. Make sure that your mouth is clean before taking a drink.
- Stemmed glasses have been a point of confusion for a long time. Irrespective of what’s the norm in your homeland, in America, you are expected to hold the glass from the top of the stem. Not the bowl. Etiquette aside, your hands on the bowl will change the drink’s temperature, and cut down on the actual experience.
- If you come from Britain, you’d expect after-parties. But, they are surprisingly not that common in the States. If they do happen, they are for a few very close friends, and usually held in homes, rather than clubs or bars.
Now you are all set for parties, gatherings, dinners, tea-times, coffee dates, or casually hanging out with your American buddies. So, drink up!
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