Your Master Guide to Drinking in College

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You spent your teenage years drinking whatever you could get your hands on, putting your liver through the ringer (Four Lokos, I never want to look at you again). Now as a sophisticated adult, you need to start acting like one. Did you know one serving of liquor is two ounces? So yes, only the bottom line of that red solo cup should contain vodka. The rest should be Sprite, you hooligan. Before you know it, you’ll order your drinks through mysterious adult code: “I’ll have a Tanqueray martini straight up, with a twist.” Years of ordering Starbucks trained you well. After a few nights on the town, you’ll pass the preliminary phases of stuttering, “Coke and rum—I mean rum and Coke,” to the bartender and learn to take the first few sips from your cup before spilling it all over the person next to you. With this master guide at your fingertips, your GPA wont’ be your only college-earned accomplishment.

Behind the Bar

1. Beer

  • Serving Size: 12 ounces
  • Types of Beer: Ale, Lager, Stout, Porter, Malt, Amber, Blonde, Brown, Cream, Dark, Fruit, Golden, Honey, Indian Pale Ale, Light, Lime, Pale, Pilsner, Red, Strong, Wheat
  • College-Friendly Brands: Natural Light, Bud Light, Yuengling, Miller Light, Busch, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Rolling Rock, Keystone, Coors Light, Corona Extra, Heineken, Blue Moon, Stella Artois

2. Liquor

  • Serving Size: 2 ounces
  • Types of Liquor: Vodka, Whiskies (Scotch, Irish, Canadian and Bourbon), Rum, Gin, Tequila, Brandy
  • College-Friendly Brands: Skol, Smirnoff, Svedka, Absolut, Ciroc, SKYY, Pinnacle, Ursus, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Kentucky Gentleman, Jameson, Captain Morgan, Bacardi, Calypso, Malibu, Sailor Jerry, Cruzan, Seagram, New Amsterdam, Jose Cuervo, El Jimador, Camarena, Terremoto, Milagro

3. Wine

  • Serving Size: 5 ounces
  • Types of Wine: Shiraz, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Champagne, Rosé, Vintage Port
  • College-Friendly Brands: Yellowtail, Barefoot, Charles Shaw, Woodbridge, Smoking Loon, Franzia, Rex-Goliath, Frontera, Lindemans, André

How do I avoid spending the night on the toilet?

The major key to enjoying an evening with friends without transforming into a blubbering, red-faced buffoon is patience. Make sure to pace yourself and your drinks throughout the night, always eat a hearty meal before your insane night begins and pay attention to your vision, physical sensations and whatever the hell you’re chatting about to the person sharing the couch with you.

As long as you’re sippin’ slow and keeping your cool, you’ll be alright, kid.

What low-calorie options can I drink?

Allow me to introduce to you to club soda. Translation? Carbonated water. The water means zero calories and the soda means the closest you’ll get to not tasting that bottom shelf vodka. Of course, you can add any liquor to club soda, but vodka soda will be your most traditional (and tasty) combo. Don’t forget to add a lime—zero to 100 real quick, you’ll see. Staying fit and wasted at the same time comes down to staying away from sugary soda and fruit juice mixers. You can drink diet mixers, but everyone knows artificial sweeteners are so 2005. If you need a break from your strict vodka soda diet (trust me, you will), broaden your horizons with wine, which is naturally low in carbs, or light beers.

How much can I drink and still drive?

Technically you can legally drive with a 0.08 percent blood-alcohol level (BAC), but reaching that 0.08 percent is stupid easy. Your weight, gender and what you ate that day all factor into how your body processes alcohol. So no, you can’t calculate a magic number of drinks before getting behind the wheel. Bottom line: If you plan to drive, don’t drink anything. You already complain about the money you spend on cover, drinks and Ubers every time you go out. How about thousands of dollars in fines, a revoked driver’s license and a criminal record to go with that? Especially in college towns, cops scour the roads because they know too many young dummies drive under the influence. Always go out with a plan to get home, whether that means walking with a group of friends, calling a cab or picking a designated driver. If you volunteer to DD, stick to your word. Sometimes you might crack under pressure. A certain group of friends, the right song or running into the wrong ex might send you into an unexpected booze-guzzling frenzy. If you do end up drinking after promising to DD, apologize to your friends and treat them to a cab ride home. Your friends, family and everyone on the road will thank you.

What should I do if my friend is too drunk to function?

Not everyone found this master guide, so use your wisdom to help everyone. You can’t miss the drunken buffoon: she slurs her words, her eyes look droopy and getting from point A to point B looks more like a baby giraffe learning to walk. If you find your friend like this, grab her by the arm and tell her it’s time for a slumber party! You don’t need to become an overprotective mother hen—you can be helpful without coming off condescending. Make sure your friend gets to a safe place. Don’t let a stranger (even a good-looking stranger) convince you that safe place is with him. Hail a cab to take your buddy home with you, order a pizza and call it a night. If your friend becomes unconscious or starts puking uncontrollably, you have a more serious matter on your hands. Your friend might have alcohol poisoning that calls for immediate medical assistance. Death from binge drinking happens too often to college students. Don’t let your friend be next. Most universities understand the panic of such situations, and therefore enact an amnesty policy. Even if you or your friend are underage, neither of you will be subject to disciplinary action by the university. The hospital will save the victim and life will move on.

I’m hungover AF. Now what?

As the sun rises, your eyelids peel open and in floods a downpour of regrets. Exhausted and dehydrated barely describe your physical state. You feel like you fought a pack of gangsters before making it home last night (and lost). The last thing your body wants to do is move, and yet you know the healing process begins with your first step out of bed. Get up, get a large glass of water—seriously, the biggest glass you can find—and take some Advil. Next, shower to scrape off every last remnant of dirt, mascara, glitter, Sharpie marker and whatever else you contacted last night. Depending on how hard you raged the night before, eating greasy food may or may not sound like the next step. Grab your group of party people that most likely feel as mizz as you and demand a recovery brunch. Everyone will zombie-march out of bed by at least 11 a.m., just in time to grab the last table at your favorite breakfast joint. Coffees all around, please. Oh, and some more water too.

Top 3 Ways To Get Your Drank On

1. We’re Going Out

Any evening that you find yourself with nothing to do—out of work early, homework completed, your roommate’s snoring—you know you need a night out on the town. Check the group chat to find out where to happy hour, pregame or party all night. Stop weighing the pros and cons of spending another evening getting shit-faced with your woes and to start figuring out what to wear.

2. Let’s Have a “Chill” Night

Some nights your couch feels extra cozy and the idea of trudging through crowds of sweaty desperadoes sounds unbearable. But, like, you still wanna party a little bit. After texting back and forth with your equally sluggish bestie, complaining about your stressful week and your hatred for everyone around you, you both know where this conversation will end. Lo and behold: the “chill” night. The chill night happens at someone’s home and calls for wine or beer. You’re in no place for liquor right now. Dress up in sweatpants, ditch the makeup and find a chick flick to watch. Bros, bring out the Call of Duty. Let the epic night-in begin.

3. Day Drinking

Sunday Fundaaaay, people! Game Day! Cinco de Mayo! Whatever excuse imaginable works, really. Day drinking takes skill, definitely a major one you’ll learn in college. Luckily, bars love to profit from our terrible urge to get buzzed in the middle of the day with a little something called Happy Hour. Discounted drinks for a limited time every afternoon? It’s enough for any 20-something to make an event out of it.

Top 3 Drinking Twitter Handles

1. Young Alcoholics — @LifeWithAlcohol

With a motto like “drink more, worry less,” this should be your go-to feed for drunk-spiration. The feed streams hilarious memes that epitomize the ridiculous drinking culture of college life. When you feel on the fence about going out, take a look at @LifeWithAlcohol to get yourself in the right state of mind.

2. Tipsy Bartender — @TipsyBartender

Got a very important party coming up that calls for specialty-themed cocktails or jello shots? Stop your Google search, @TipsyBartender tweets the most amazing drink recipes imaginable, from fruit and candy to coffee-inspired drinks. Make summertime holidays like Memorial Day and Fourth of July unforgettable (or more forgettable?) by serving some crazy patriotic strawberry-blueberry slushies this year.

3. Drunk Girl Problems — @DrunkGirlLife

Everyone knows the drunkest girl at the party, but did you know she has an insane Twitter following? @DrunkGirlLife makes acting like an obnoxious alcoholic seem okay…or at least okay to watch.

If you can’t drink at your desk, you might as well keep reading about drinking:

The Top 10 Schools that Party All Day, Everyday

21 Ways to Celebrate Your 21st Birthday

Blacking Out Is Not A Joke

How to Keep Warm en Route to Your Booze Blanket


College Magazine does not promote underage drinking. Please drink responsibly.

Sofia Harris is a senior at the University of Florida studying English, film and studio art. She enjoys tropical climates, wine BOGO’s and dressing up.

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