On New Year’s Eve you may find yourself drinking with a Wall Streeter or two.
Best that you’re prepared. These guys are experts.
Bankers drink to entertain clients, they drink to entertain themselves (when they have time), and they drink because it’s tradition.
Wall Street lore has it that before Goldman Sachs went public, its London office had a cellar filled with cases of wine — one for each and every child born to a partner.
But that’s just lore.
What’s real is that there are rules to drinking like a Wall Streeter. Like any group, they have ideas about the way things should be done, and, more importantly, how they should be drank.
First and foremost, drink scotch.
You don’t have to order it every time, but if someone suggests it, by all means you must take it up. Ice is acceptable. In fact, real scotch connoisseurs would say that adding a splash of water can bring the flavors of the scotch out more.
If you want to look like an insider, consider going for a Macallan and Oban.
If you’re going to go with a popular brand, go high-end with it.
Martinis are dry.
The gin vs. vodka debate takes a back seat here for something much more important — your martini does not have a cute flavor. It is not a cosmo, it is not dirty, there are no lychees.
A twist is acceptable.
Know who you’re drinking with — not all Wall Streeters are alike.
If you’re with a bunch of traders, don’t be surprised if they’re all drinking something simple, like warm Jameson — no rocks, no water. Very manly, of course.
This harkens to way-back-in-the-day when traders were back-office, blue-collar types. Don’t be surprised if you catch a bunch of them going back to their roots.
You can always skip the first drink and blame it on the night before.
Everyone knows you’ve probably been drinking, whether it’s for work or entertaining clients. If you’re really in bad shape, explain that. Sit the first round out and order a club soda with lime.
In fact, soda is your friend in general.
For the most part, Wall Streeters drink liquor and they don’t like it messed with too much.
If that’s not your thing, go for a splash of soda. Think Grey Goose and lime with a splash of soda, Johnnie Walker Black with a splash of soda … you get the picture.
On hot days, go for the G&T.
Gin and tonic, vodka tonic, whichever you prefer.
Know your brand.
When someone asks you what you want to drink you should not stutter. Period.
Be decisive and know your brand. Don’t just say gin — there are lots of gins, and you should know which one you like.
If you don’t know what you want, you’re going to look like a newbie. No one likes newbies.
No wine until dinner.
Wine is meant to be paired with food.
You should know well enough what kind of wine is good, and what goes with what kind of food but you actually don’t need to be an expert. It’s more important to know your liquor (read: scotch/whiskey).
Out with clients, a good Wall Streeter will always defer to their taste in wine unless they have something really impressive up their sleeve.
Ladies, if you want to flaunt the rules, go ahead. You have a free pass. If you like Pinot Grigio, drink that — go for a beer if you want it.
But just know this — if you are a lady, and you do elect to drink scotch/whiskey, you will be a hero to everyone at the table.
In Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea, be prepared to get really, really drunk.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, no matter how wasted you get, you need to hold it together like a pro.
For some reason, bankers in Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea let it all hang out — and then they go to the karaoke bar and let it all hang out some more.
In London, be prepared to bust out the bubbly.
London’s Wall Street is known as “The City,” and in “The City” they celebrate with champagne. Plan accordingly and drink a ton of water; champagne hangovers are like punishment directly from the hand of whatever God you may believe in.
They also drink Ports and Brandys more often than we do stateside. I can’t explain it; I’m not British.
If you can’t drink, don’t.
If you’ve done everything you can to learn how to hold your liquor — you’ve gone to scotch classes, wine tastings, practiced at brunch … and you still can’t?
Do yourself a favor and don’t. Bankers are expected to come to work the next day, regardless of the night before.
And if you did something stupid, people will be talking about it.
Better to avoid the situation all together.
BONUS: Art Cashin learned everything he knows about Wall Street over scotch Old-Fashioneds.
He’s been on the floor for 50 years, he still drinks, and he’s still sharp as hell.
So this information probably counts for something, right?