Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Vegas Girl’s Guide to Drinking

When you’ve lived in Las Vegas your entire life, you eventually learn that the things you accept as normal are often scandalous to people from the blander cities of our great nation. Billboards featuring mostly naked women don’t even register for me, but to a great many letter-to-the-editor writers who moved here from, say, Minnesota, a bare cellulite-free butt is very offensive. Another scandalous-to-others category is drinking, as in adult beverages. If you’ve just moved here from a more sedate state, please let me give you a native’s guide to what’s acceptable in Las Vegas.

Is it noon? Is it noon somewhere on the planet? Yes? Good. Are you working or driving? Responsible for explosives? No? Then you have permission to begin drinking. If you must begin drinking before noon (local time), a mimosa or a Bloody Mary (or a couple, depending upon the crowd) is perfectly acceptable. Downing shots of tequila with your brunch is frowned upon, unless you’re a night worker who has just gotten off shift. In Las Vegas, some people have worked all night and are ready for their daily quota of strong and highly alcoholic beverages at the same time other people are eating bacon and eggs. In our city, this is an acceptable loophole in the official drinking guidelines (which you only receive after living here more than thirty years, so don’t ask because you can’t see them). Also, during the holidays, a nice splash of Bailey’s or Kaluha in your coffee is allowed, as long as you’re not fixing your coffee for the morning commute to work (and as long as “splash” does not really mean “three shots.”)

So, what about the rest of the day? Well, are you having a meal?  Yes? Of course you may drink! (We're not talking about a meal break at work, by the way, tsk tsk!) In Las Vegas, any meal increases the alcohol-consumption acceptability quotient. "Meal," by the way, might be defined in several ways. Is there food available in the general vicinity that might be eaten? Yes? Then you've met the "meal" requirement. And a nice glass of Merlot goes with almost anything and is allegedly good for you. Of course, if you've already indulged in two or more mimosas/Bloody Marys (refer to the section above on whether it's noon or not), then you must subtract points and adjust your drinking downward. The Vegas Girl recommends a non-alcoholic beverage at this point, actually, unless there are extenuating circumstances (death, divorce, etc., in which case disregard everything I’ve said here and drink at will). If you are in the tequila-swilling group that worked all night, you won’t need to worry about the rest of the day because you will be asleep.

During the afternoon and evening, you’re on your own. It’s Las Vegas, after all, and we’ve got booze and slot machines at every corner. Does this mean that Las Vegans drink all day long? No, although I must confess I’ve known several who did. What it means is that if you’ve just moved here from some staid place and you’re shocked to see your Las Vegan neighbor drinking a beer at 3:00 in the afternoon on a Saturday, you’re likely to be shocked quite a lot. Really, though, if you’re shocked by anything, Las Vegas probably isn't for you.
Picture courtesy of Roger Kirby at

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