That stage of life where pounding beers while mixing all types of gut-rot liquor are over (or at least they should be). Welcome to a new, more mature way to enjoy spirits of choice. Sure, there will be the occasional sports ball game, concert, or revelrous gathering where one may imbibe too many and/or a too eclectic variety of drinks, but for the most part it is time to start thinking and drinking like an adult.

There are plenty of reasons to stop the chugging and start sipping. For one, there is a dignity in comporting oneself as if there was a modicum of self-control. That is fine and dandy, but the reality is that as people age, they cannot recover as quickly from all-night binges. Plus, the next morning awaits with an obscene amount of responsibility.

Morgan Jones, a bartender at Flying Iguana Taqueria and Tequila Bar in Neptune Beach, has over a decade of experience behind the bar and has seen her fair share of both wise decisions and poor choices made by patrons. “There are always the tell-tale signs that someone has had too much to drink: they get louder, they get rowdier and they get more annoying,” Jones laughs.

“One of the best pieces of advice I can offer is that folks should be sipping good quality spirits rather than taking shots of bottom rung liquor,” Jones says. “It’s also a good idea to eat good, high-protein foods while drinking. Avoiding carbs is also good because all those carbs turn into sugars, which make hangovers worse.”

Sage advice, sure. But scientifically sound, as well! According to an article titled “The Alcohol Hangover Research Group Consensus Statement on Best Practice in Alcohol Hangover Research,” published by the U.S. National Library of medicine, an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase is found in the human liver and helps break down toxins in alcohol into acetate, which are then expelled by the body as carbon dioxide and water. Except as the body ages, the number of enzymes in the liver diminish leading to hangovers that last longer and wreak more havoc on the body. Add to that a slowing metabolism and the next sunrise comes with a harsher headache.

“You have to drink water and avoid sugar to avoid the 21-year-old curse,” says Tom Letro, a bartender over the The Lemon Bar, also in Neptune Beach. “The 21-year-old curse is drunk by 3 p.m. and passed out by 5 p.m.” Letro emphasizes that mixers should be taken into consideration when attempting to drink like an adult. “Stick with simple mixers that will cool you down and hydrate you. Fresh cucumber water is good to mix with good gin or good vodka,” Letro says. “Keep it fresh and keep it classy.”

Morgan adds that responsibility and friends also play a big role in increasing the sophistication of drinking. “If you hang out with people that just want to get wasted and don’t really have a reason to get up the next morning, chances are you will also end up wasted and passed out the next morning.” She adds that she sees a shift in folk’s drinking habits occurring between the ages of 26 and 30, “usually after people have started careers or have the responsibility of children.”

Still, she advocates for the occasional opportunity to throw back a few too many. “Drinking like an adult is about knowing your limits, speed of intake and being mindful of your body. But, you should still plan out your hangovers and be free to cut loose.” Adulting hard!

This piece originally appeared in Void Magazine  Vol. 9, Issue 10, The Drink Issue.