Choosing what to drink on a first date can be as perilous as your outfit (Those shoes with those pants? Really?), conversation skills (aka, ability to make your desk job not seem mind-numbingly dull), or teeth (get thee to a dentist). Normally we say, drink and let drink—order whatever you want no matter what the haters say. But a first date is no ordinary drinking occasion, and your booze order is not a decision that should be taken lightly (though sometimes you ought to opt for a lighter beverage). It can be tricky to come up with the right cocktail in a high-pressure moment, with a waiter or bartender waiting not so patiently for you to make a choice.
To grapple with this seemingly large problem, we gathered expert advice from bartenders, picked out some great venues for where to take your date, and even outlined a few faux pas drinks that could easily end your date early. But all that info can feel pretty overwhelming. While we imagine it would vastly improve your dating life to study all of our date-based drinking advice and learn the secret signals that your cocktail choices are sending to your intended romantic partner, we distilled all the details down into a handy infographic instead. Keep this cheat sheet loaded on your phone beneath the table, and check it as often as you’re able to sneak a glance.