Drinking on the First Date: What’s the Etiquette?

First dates can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. You’ve finally mustered the courage to ask someone out or agreed to meet someone new, and now you’re faced with a multitude of decisions, including the question of whether or not to have a drink. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, understanding the etiquette surrounding drinking on a first date can help set the tone for a successful and enjoyable evening.

In this article, we’ll explore the various aspects of drinking on the first date, including the pros and cons, the different scenarios, and some tips on how to navigate this potentially tricky situation. Whether you’re a seasoned dater or new to the dating scene, this guide will help you make the right decision and ensure a positive first impression.

The Pros and Cons of Drinking on a First Date

Before delving into the etiquette of drinking on a first date, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of this choice. Deciding whether or not to drink on a first date is a personal decision and should align with your own values and comfort levels.


  1. Relaxation: A drink or two can help ease initial nervousness and make you feel more relaxed. It can be a social lubricant that helps open up conversations and break the ice.
  2. Shared Experience: Sharing a drink can be a bonding experience, creating a sense of camaraderie and togetherness.
  3. Enhanced Enjoyment: For some, a nice glass of wine or a craft beer can enhance the enjoyment of the date, especially if you’re dining at a restaurant.
  4. Testing Compatibility: How your date handles alcohol can provide insights into their character. It’s an opportunity to see if you share similar attitudes towards drinking.


  1. Overindulgence: There’s a fine line between enjoying a drink and overindulging. Excessive drinking can lead to impaired judgment and behavior that you might later regret.
  2. Impaired Communication: Alcohol can sometimes hinder effective communication. Slurred speech and a loss of inhibitions may lead to sharing too much too soon.
  3. Misjudgment: Drinking can cloud your judgment, potentially leading to poor decision-making regarding your date or your own safety.
  4. Allergies and Preferences: Not everyone drinks, whether due to personal preferences, allergies, or health reasons. Assuming that your date drinks might lead to awkward moments.

Now that we’ve explored the pros and cons, it’s clear that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether to drink on a first date. The right choice depends on your individual preferences, the nature of the date, and your personal comfort level.

Different Scenarios, Different Etiquette

The etiquette of drinking on a first date can vary based on the specific circumstances of the date. Here are some common scenarios and the etiquette associated with them:

1. Casual Coffee or Daytime Date:

In the case of a casual coffee date or a daytime outing, such as a walk in the park, there’s often less expectation to drink alcohol. Coffee or non-alcoholic beverages are the norm, and it’s perfectly acceptable to choose a non-alcoholic option. If your date suggests having a drink and you’re comfortable with it, a light alcoholic beverage like a glass of wine or a beer can be suitable. However, it’s important to drink in moderation and not let alcohol become the focus of the date.

2. Evening Dinner Date:

When you’re going out for dinner, the decision to drink can be more nuanced. It’s common for both you and your date to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail with your meal. In this scenario, it’s entirely appropriate to have a drink, but moderation is key. It’s essential to be mindful of your alcohol consumption and ensure it enhances the dining experience rather than overshadowing it.

3. Bar or Club Date:

If you’ve chosen a bar or club for your first date, the expectation to have a drink is higher. In these settings, having a drink is typical, and it’s usually acceptable to order alcoholic beverages. However, it’s crucial to be cautious and responsible. Overindulging in a bar or club can quickly lead to problems, so keep an eye on your limits and prioritize your safety.

4. Unique or Themed Date:

Some first dates are more unique or themed, such as attending a wine tasting event, visiting a brewery, or going on a whiskey tour. In these cases, the theme of the date often revolves around alcohol. It’s not only acceptable but expected to participate in the tasting or sampling. However, always drink in moderation and stay in control of your actions.

5. No Alcohol Date:

It’s important to remember that not everyone drinks alcohol for various reasons, including personal preference, religious beliefs, or health concerns. If you or your date choose not to drink, it’s crucial to be respectful of each other’s choices. Select non-alcoholic alternatives, like sparkling water or mocktails, and ensure the focus of the date is on getting to know each other rather than the beverages.

Navigating the Etiquette

Navigating the etiquette of drinking on a first date can be challenging, but here are some essential tips to help you make the right choices:

  1. Communication is Key: Before the date, communicate with your potential partner about your preferences regarding alcohol. If you don’t drink or have specific limits, it’s a good idea to share this information to avoid misunderstandings.
  2. Start Slow: If you decide to have a drink, start slowly and monitor your alcohol intake. Sipping your beverage and enjoying it can enhance the experience without impairing your judgment.
  3. Stay Hydrated: It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to drink water. Staying hydrated is essential, especially if you’re having alcohol. Water helps you stay in control and feel better the next day.
  4. Be Respectful: Respect your date’s choices and limits regarding alcohol. Don’t pressure them into drinking if they’re uncomfortable with it. Conversely, if your date doesn’t drink, ensure they feel comfortable and included in the choices of venue and beverages.
  5. Plan Transportation: If you’re having alcohol, make sure you have a plan for getting home safely. Arrange for a designated driver, use public transportation, or have a rideshare app ready on your phone.
  6. Pay Attention to Body Language: During the date, pay attention to your date’s body language. If they seem uncomfortable or show signs of overindulgence, consider adjusting your own behavior accordingly.
  7. Focus on Getting to Know Each Other: Regardless of your beverage choice, the primary purpose of the first date is to get to know each other. Make conversation, ask questions, and be present in the moment.


Navigating the etiquette of drinking on a first date is a complex task, and it requires careful consideration of various factors. This decision should be aligned with your personal values and comfort level, as well as the nature of the date and your potential partner’s preferences. In the world of dating, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but there are some universal principles to keep in mind.

First and foremost, communication is key. It’s essential to discuss your preferences and boundaries with your date before the evening begins. Honesty and open conversation can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that both individuals feel respected and comfortable throughout the date.

When choosing to drink on a first date, moderation is crucial. Starting slowly and keeping a watchful eye on your alcohol consumption will help you maintain your composure and enjoy the experience without impairing your judgment. Staying hydrated is equally important, as it will ensure you feel your best during and after the date.

Moreover, it’s essential to be respectful of your date’s choices and limits. If your date does not drink, make sure they feel included in the choice of venue and beverages. Conversely, if your date does drink, avoid pressuring them into consuming more than they’re comfortable with.

Ultimately, the primary objective of any first date is to get to know one another. Regardless of your beverage choice, focusing on building a connection, making conversation, and enjoying the moment is what truly matters. A successful first date is one where both individuals feel at ease, respected, and excited about the prospect of further exploration. By following these guidelines and keeping in mind the etiquette surrounding first-date drinking, you can set the stage for a positive and memorable dating experience that may lead to a promising future together.