The Business Lunch: Booze is Back

The business lunch is a ritual which keeps changing. Right now, what's new is that drinking alcohol is back, reports Joel Stein in BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK. Only in 2010, there's more wine flowing than the hard liquor Don Draper and the clients on "Mad Men" loved so much in the 1960s.

So, you might be wondering: what are the "the rules" or proper etiquette for the return of alcohol after years of bottled water.

Well, the rules of the game about the business lunch are always the same. Power is rule number one, two, and three. That's the recommendation of sociologists such as the famous Erving Goffman, author of THE PRESENTATION OF SELF IN EVERYDAY LIFE.

Those with the most power, be it the boss, client, customer, or prospect, make the rules. If they decide a good time will be had by all, that will be that. If they decide the lunch will be task-oriented, then you comport yourself as you would at work. More simply put, you follow the lead, unless you're the alpha at the table.

The challenge is this: perform that role smoothly. Better yet, brilliantly. That's exactly how players leverage social events as opportunities to get an edge. Goffman, just like William Shakespeare, hammers that all the world's a stage. The business lunch is a stage in which the best acting could be noticed and rewarded. The best actors get that way by modeling their behavior on those who are masters of the business lunch. So, for the first few wet business lunches observe the acting. Then connect the dots on what kind of performances seemed to pay off in ongoing career success.

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Laurel Richardson

I agree---alcohol has never made a lunch comeback because it never left. During the seventies when I was in my twenties and working with a criminally insane and institutionalized population in Pennsylvania, my lunch was a shrimp cocktail and a glass of white wine. No one in the group (mostly professional) drank more than one of anything and it calmed us a bit to get ready for the "next round." Snack on the way home was Doritos and coffee. Since my husband and I were trying to pay down a mortgage, dinner was at home and cola and coffee were the beverages.
After moving to Indiana and a different profession, I realized some in the real estate and trucking crowd drank their way through lunch and before dinner. This just is not the route to go! What can I say?

October 04 2010 at 7:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


October 04 2010 at 6:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Europeans have been doing this for centuries. Get over it.

October 04 2010 at 6:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Faux Blonde Foe

I keep thinking that all of the people in Mad Men are dead because of all that smoking and drinking.

Don Draper likely died of a coronary in the early 1990s. The white-haired guy croaked in the 70s. The high-strung guy stroked out in the 90s.

Fatal heart attacks all around for the girls.

October 04 2010 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Faux Blonde Foe's comment
Jane Genova

Yeah, but Don and Roger did it their way. A long life might be over-rated.

October 04 2010 at 5:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good stuff....I hope the poitically correct don't find out.

October 04 2010 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jane Genova

Thank you for taking the time to comment.

It doesn't matter what Jane Genova thinks. What matters is that anyone takes the time to read what I write.

Bozzin' stopped in the circles I had traveled. We were forced to endure four-hour business lunches sipping bottled water. Those in those circles frowned on ice tea. But I stopped being on those networks. Now we all guzzle Red Bull and are succeeding wonderfully being totally hypomanic. Wine at those four-hour lunches helps us come down from the Red Bull.

October 04 2010 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jane Genova's comment
Terry T.

You go girl! I care what say and THINK. I am also over 50 (56) and would love to have a "drink" with my lunch. But alas, no booze here in Kandahar.

October 04 2010 at 4:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What do you mean alcohol is back, it never left.
All you have to is look at all the new laws made by congress to see it never left.

October 04 2010 at 3:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this story brought to you by Joes Wine Store, Inc.

October 04 2010 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

who actually cares what jane genova thinks?

October 04 2010 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to doc's comment
Laurel Richardson


October 04 2010 at 7:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You obviously cared otherwise why did you read the article nimrod..

October 04 2010 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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