Drinking with coworkers is a time-honored tradition -- a vital bonding ritual where you can form buddy blocs to help you navigate cubicle culture. And although only one in five employees in the U.S. admits to drinking regularly with their officemates, there are always going to be situations where you're going to be called upon to take some pints for the team.

A recent study even found that boozing may be a career-building activity. Researchers at San Jose State University say alcohol helps workers "network professionally," which in turn makes them more valuable employees.

However, it's important to remember that no matter how relaxed the situation, you're not out with your college pals. Everything you do or inappropriately blurt out in a slurred rant will have implications for your work life.

We put together four maxims for mastering work-related drinking after the jump.


1. Buy the first round. You don't make as much as Sid in accounting, and that jerk Alex has a zillion-dollar trust fund, so of course they should be buying. However, if you take the opportunity to get the first drink, the gesture will score you big-time likability points. Of course, don't mention it when someone else fails to get you one back. Then you'll be just like Alex.

2. Don't overdo it. Obviously it's fine to be the lush at your local pub with all the other hapless boozehounds, but when you're with coworkers, make sure to be on guard. Have the first drink at the speed of everyone else around you. It helps to nurse drinks and have a glass of water in between each one. If you're the most sober person there, you'll be more likely to extract valuable information from loose lips, rather than the other way around.

3. Don't talk smack. Part of any office drinking session involves trading professional gossip about the higher-ups and interns, but it's best not to be the one talking all the time. Try to maintain a professional relationship with each person around you and make sure you're not the only one casting aspersions. Meanwhile, if someone makes fun of your collating skills, don't get drawn in. It's not that big of a deal.

4. Keep sketchy personal stories to yourself. OK, we know you tried peyote at Burning Man and danced naked with a bus full of lesbian hippies. We did that, too. But when it comes time for a promotion or a raise, do you really want your supervisor thinking about how you were dancing with glow-sticks and communing with the Infinite Earth Mother? Ditto tales from rehab, sex clinics, psychiatric hospitals and Amsterdam.

Want some examples of how not to drink with coworkers? Check out the video below.