The Guide to Grabbing Drinks on a First Date

The cliché award for first dates clearly goes to dinner and a movie. But, the cliché award for a first date that is actually a good idea goes to grabbing a drink (or drinks)! Grabbing drinks has become one of the most popular first dates in the entire world for so many reasons. If you’re going on a first date soon and planning on grabbing drinks, you’re probably wondering what you can do to ensure you have the most successful first date ever.

Well, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’re going to talk about the pros and cons of grabbing drinks as a first date to help you decide if it’s a good fit for you. Then, we’re going to load you up with some awesome tips about how to make your first date grabbing drinks a big hit. There are quite a few things that you can do, and things that you should not do that can make your date a success or a big flop.

Read: Dating When You Don’t Drink

a bar with drinks

Why This is a Great First Date Idea

Grabbing drinks for a first date is one of the simplest yet most effective first dates ever. Remember, the purpose of a first date is not to impress the person you are going out with. The purpose of a first date is to find out if the person you’re going out with and you are compatible and if it’s worth seeing each other again for a second date.

To accomplish this, you need to do something that allows you to talk (bye bye movie) and doesn’t leave you trapped in case it’s a bust (bye bye dinner). Additionally, having a drink or two can help to relax the nerves of a first date and help you two to calm down and open up a bit. You’re also going to have drinks in a very public place (a bar or lounge) which is great for safety. You have to remember that a first date is usually with someone you don’t know that well, so you want to cover your bases in case anything happens to go wrong.

Grabbing drinks as a first date is also cost-effective. We don’t know your financial situation, but chances are you don’t want to be pumping a ton of money into a date that might be a bust or a waste of your time. Doing something simple like this allows you to be the star, not the amount of money you spent or the extravagance of what you planned. If someone has a problem with such a simple date because it’s too simple, then they’re probably not someone you want to be seeing anyways.

When Grabbing Drinks is a Bad First Date

Now, we did just say that if someone doesn’t want to go grab drinks because it’s too simple that you probably don’t want to be going out with them. We wanted to make sure that we were clear here. That statement only applies if they are turning down the date because they want to do something more extravagant. There are actually a lot of instances where going out to the bar for drinks might not be the best idea for a first date.

First, if the person you’re talking to doesn’t drink, you’d be silly if you tried to take them to a bar. Do you just want them to sit there and drink a soda while you slam beers? That’s not the way to get that second date or to get to know each other (although it would say a lot about you to them).

Second, if they are a heavily religious person, you might want to try something different. We aren’t saying that there is anything wrong with being religious and going to a bar, but you want to make sure that you don’t give off the wrong impression to someone that you just met.

The best thing you can do is ask them if they’d like to meet up for a drink or ______. Basically, suggest something else with it so they can easily take the other option if they aren’t in the mood to go to a bar.

Keep in mind as well that you can grab drinks at places other than places that are exclusively bars. Restaurants, hotels, and lounges are great places to grab a drink and sometimes can have a really cool and fun vibe.

For the most part, grabbing drinks is going to work for a first date as long as the person you’re going out with drinks, is okay with bars, and is of course of the legal drinking age.

Need Someone to Grab Drinks With?

If you’re still on the dating scene, you may be looking for someone fun and worth your time to throw back that martini, beer, or whatever you like to drink with. If so, here are a few of our favorite online dating sites with some free trials to get you started. Consider this the first round on us?

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Tips for a Great Drinks Date

Alright, so we’ve already gone over why or why not grabbing drinks on a first date is a good fit for you and your new boo. Now what we’d like to do is give you some tips to try and have the best first date possible. Yes, the goal is not to impress them but to get to know them, but that does not mean you can’t put your best foot forward and show them that you’re someone they want to be around.

Scout Out the Location First

You really should never take a first date to a bar or location that you haven’t at least seen in person before. You don’t have to have actually eaten or drank there, but you at least need to lay eyes on it and see what the atmosphere is like.

If you’re taking out a classy person and you end up at a bar that is a complete dive, they are probably not going to be that happy. Or, if you are looking forward to good conversation but the bar has blaring music at night where you have to shout, it’s probably not a good fit.

Take a little time and scout out the location before you pick it for a first date. You should also check their website just to make sure they don’t have anything wild and crazy scheduled for the night that you want to propose for a date. It would be awkward to head to a bar for a first date only to find out the bar is taken over by speed daters or a massive office party or something like that.

Avoid Using Your Stomping Grounds

While you should take your date for drinks somewhere that you’ve scouted out before, do not take them to a place that you’re a regular at or frequent. Why? Well, there are a few reasons. First, if things don’t work out, but your date loves the place, you now are going to have to see them regularly or have to move yourself to a new location. This is not ideal.

Second, you might be shooting yourself in the foot if there is someone else that frequents that bar that is interested in you. Maybe they’re working up the courage to talk to you one day and then they see you in there with a date. Do you think they’re going to worry about coming and talking to you now? Probably not.

Lastly, you run the risk of running into people that you just don’t want to on a first date. Your friends may be awesome people, but do you really want them all around watching you while you’re on a first date? Or, what happens if an ex-girlfriend or boyfriends frequents the establishment? That’s not a recipe for a great first date.

There are so many awesome places in every city where you can grab drinks for a first date. You can choose somewhere that you’ve been to before, but don’t choose somewhere you frequent.

Don’t Drink Too Much

You had to expect this tip was coming. Whatever you do, don’t drink too much on your first date. It’s okay to have a couple drinks and enjoy yourself, but you cannot let yourself get drunk. Well keep this short, but here’s why. First, it puts you at a safety risk. You’re literally going out with someone you’ve never met before or hardly know. Do you really want to be out of it while you’re with them?

Second, you have no idea how your date is going to react to it. It can be a pretty huge turnoff to someone if their date gets drunk. After you’ve been dating for a while and you know where they stand on things, then you can probably let loose a lot more. But, a first date is not the place to go buck wild and show off how much you can drink.

Lastly, it really doesn’t do much for helping you to get to know each other. People act significantly different when they’re drunk, so you’d really only be introducing your date to the drunk you. Also, you aren’t going to be in much of a state to get to know them or remember what you learned. Basically, you might have fun, but it’s going to be a pretty unsuccessful first date as the goal is to get to know each other.

Have a Plan to Transition

Something magical happens every now and then on a first date. You realize that you’re spending time with someone awesome and you want to spend more time together. You both have nothing to do, and you can tell that no one wants to go home yet. The problem with getting drinks for a first date is that you really don’t want to just sit in the bar for hours getting hammered.

So, you need to have a transition plan in place. Have something else in mind that you can do to extend the date that does not involve sitting there and continuing to drink. One of the easiest things you can suggest is grabbing dinner. You could stay where you are at and get food or transition somewhere close by to continue the date. If you do transition somewhere, please be smart about drinking and driving. Uber and Lyft are your friends.

You can also strategically plan your date around somewhere with something to do close by. For example, if there is a place to grab drinks close to a putt-putt golf place or a bowling alley or even somewhere just to walk around, that’s a great idea. You don’t have to transition your date, but it’s nice to have the option available if things go well. Do also keep in mind that if your date doesn’t want to transition, it doesn’t mean that things are going badly. They might have to be up early the next day or have something to do.

Have an Exit Strategy

What’s more important than having a transition plan when you’re grabbing drinks on a first date is having a plan to exit the date if things just aren’t that great. One of the best parts about grabbing drinks as a date is that you are not locked into anything. If you’re at a restaurant eating dinner or at a movie, you’re somewhat socially locked into staying there for the duration of the event. Yes, you can always get up and scram whenever you want, but if you want to be polite, you’re probably going to be there for a while.

When you’re grabbing drinks, you already have the best exit strategy. Have one drink, and when you’re done with your cocktail, you can say your goodbyes and move along. There is always this point after the first round on a date where both parties try to decide if they want to get another round or if that is it for the date. This is the inflection point where you can make your exit if it’s just not working out. But, if it’s going well, you can always grab another round and continue the conversation!

Written By: Jason Lee

Jason Lee is a data analyst with a passion for studying online dating, relationships, personal growth, healthcare, and finance. In 2008, Jason earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Florida, where he studied business and finance and taught interpersonal communication.

His work has been featured in the likes of The USA Today, MSN, The Motley Fool, Net Health, and The Simple Dollar. As a business owner, relationship strategist, dating coach, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base with the rest of the world.