How drunk is one allowed to get at the company Christmas party? Is there a series of rules, based on your seniority (i.e. assistants can have x, senior management do whatever the hell they want, etc.)? Does one tip the bartenders at such events, if it's a company party? generally if there is a tip cup you do, and if not you don't, as I understand it.
The degree of drunkenness allowed at company Christmas parties is based generally on the pay grades of the drinkers, and the frequency that you see each other drunk. If you never go to happy hours with your co-workers, you probably don't want to get so soused that you try to smooch your boss's secretary. If you get plastered on a general basis with the department head, get the boss an extra cup of punch to spread some holiday cheer. Generally, it's best (and polite) to never become more intoxicated than whomever is throwing the party. Remember that the company Christmas party is a performance. You want to witness the antics of the other characters, and interact positively, but not be the subject of all the drama. You want to show your team that you can relax and be comfortable enough with your co-workers to have a few drinks with them. The less nervous you are about your habits, the more confident you'll be in conversations with the bigwigs. I'd stick to three cups of punch, or two if you're a lightweight. And don't forget to eat some snacks- but lay off the sweets if you don't want a hangover.
As for tipping the bartender- if there's a tip jar, always, if not, you certainly can say, "are we allowed to tip you?". If they say no, then no. If they shrug, then tip. Even if there isn't a tip jar, you should tip graciously. Heck, you aren't picking up the tab anyway, and you did just get that company bonus. Tipping is good for you. If your bosses don't notice your generosity and your good manners, the bartenders will. You'll have some strange glow to you that gets you drinks made well, and faster, than all the other employees. It's best to make these occasions go smoothly, and the bartender can certainly help you out in some socially awkward conversation with the boss's wife and his secretary. Also, make sure you get the interns drunk- the company party is really their night. Ahem, Sinterns.
The holiday season is stressing me out. Whenever I look at the list of people who I have to give presents to, I just want a drink. Can you make some wintry suggestions for how to alleviate this situational and transitory stress? I'm drowning in holiday cheer. Please, I wish that sentence were more literal.
The holiday has lots of cheer, in the cheers variety. My favorite winter beer this year has been the Sprecher Winter Brew. Sprecher is a brewery in Wisconsin which makes awesome beers and sodas. The Winter brew is a dunkel bock with caramel and chocolate notes, delicately balanced with four varieties of hops. It's perfect for a night of gift wrapping, or a night of forgetting about all the holidays. If you want to remember Christmas past, or save some for the ghosts of the future, try the Samichlaus beer from Eggenberg brewery in Austria. Samichlaus is a doppelbock, brewed only once a year on December 6th and left to age for a year before it's release. This beer gets better while you wait, so try to get an older bottle. I've found the ten year old bottles are bit more like brandy, but at 14%, any vintage is a great one. Also, it's a great Christmas present for your bartender, drinking buddies, or anyone you know over 21 who likes things that are awesome.
Other stress relieving winter drinks include (but are never limited to) hot toddies, hot buttered rum, wassail punch, mulled wine, and of course, Eggnog. The argument over recipes for these drinks is a historical battle that has caused more argument and pain than any present you'll buy for your family this year. This week I'll tackle a simple one: the hot buttered rum. A teaspoon of light brown sugar is dissolved with a shot and half of rum, at the bottom of a mug. Half a teaspoon of salted butter (good butter is key here) is dropped towards the rum, then add a little bit of ground cardamon, perhaps a clove or two, and fill the mug up with boiling water. Stir with a cinnamon stick, season to taste. I bet this mug will calm you down, let you toast to the people who you love enough to torture yourself over, and maybe blur away the bad parts of the holiday season.
Perhaps next week I'll explain another wintry drink on the list. I guess it depends on what questions I'm asked.