It’s New Year’s Eve, and you want to let it all hang out. Awesome.
If you’re drinking, the key is to get drunk and stay drunk, but not get too drunk to make yourself and those around you miserable. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
We’ve rounded up tips from expert drinkers on and off the SFBay staff to help guide your intoxicated selves into 2012 safely and completely vomit-free. So here they are, in more-or-less chronological order through your evening.
First, before you go out, establish a set of what-ifs for scenarios so you can get your ass home when the party is done. If you’re driving, stay or get sober. If you’re with someone else, have a plan if your ride falls through. Keep some emergency cab cash in your god-knows-where. But have some sort of a plan.
Next, take a page from the Bush Doctrine and launch a pre-emptive strike on your insides with a good —but not huge — meal. Only a total novice would try to wolf down two El Farolito burritos to pave the way for a hard night of drinking.
Be prepared with a steady foundation of food. Starting with a hearty breakfast – anything that would have the suffix “-Slam” on a Denny’s menu. Take your time, there’s no rush.
In a few hours, around the time you’re feeling comfortable enough to buckle your belt again, consider hitting up some lunch. Something a little lighter should do, just something to tide you over. Be sure to drink some water to get and stay hydrated before (and during) your body abuse later.
Now that you’ve got a good but not overwhelming food base in your stomach, and you’re hydrated, you should be in the clear to start drinking.
It’s easier to keep a smooth buzz and slowly crescendo to that “professing your love to absolute strangers” phase instead of running the risk of accelerating right into puke and regret.
If you truly have no understanding of how drunk you personally can get, then start out slowly. Have a drink, then wait a half-hour and see how you feel. Don’t slam down three tequila shots in public if half a beer gets you woozy at home.
Your best bet to “remember” how much you’ve drank is to pick a drink and stick to it: Wine, beer, shots, whatever. At least establish a base from which you can deviate. Remember, when you make anything complicated for your drunk self, any chance of success diminishes rapidly.
Pro-tip: under no circumstances should you opt for sushi, shellfish, or any sort of seafood at dinner, lest you end the night with a more intimate understanding of what all the crabs from the Deadliest Catch must look like post-processing, pre-packaging.
Now that you’ve had dinner, the drinking is going to pick up. If you’re driving at the end of the night, pick a cut-off time and stick to it. Use a blood alcohol-level calculator ahead of time to figure out how much you can drink and how early you have to stop to sober up to get home.
Don’t forget to mix in a glass of water and even some starchy snacks when the drinking really gets heavy. Try to keep track of your pace, and if you’re putting back a couple of drinks an hour, your body needs water to stay hydrated and process all the booze.
If at some point, all the planning, pacing and hydrating has failed, and you find yourself needing to vomit, do it where any respectful drunk would, in the gutter, not all over someone’s doorstep, and definitely never, ever inside of a car. Including a taxi, you know you you are!
If you’ve got your car, and your night ends before your buzz does, call AAA for a free ten-mile tow from 6 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday. Between free tows, public transit and friendly cab drivers, there’s no reason for you to risk dying or killing someone on New Year’s drunk behind the wheel. So don’t.