I'll keep this simple: What should you do when a member of your party has very clearly had too much to drink and is making a scene and drawing unwanted attention (might I even say glares) from other diners?
Looking forward to your take,
Friend of Boozy
Dear Friend of Boozy,
We all have our own definitions of "making a scene" and we are all differently sensitive to the attention—wanted and unwanted, glare-filled or not —of other diners. I know some shrinking violets who might be embarrassed by a friend simply speaking a bit louder or laughing more readily than usual. I'm also acquainted with plenty of bolder folks who wouldn't give a whit what kind of look anyone shot them and their friends.
Let's just say that you're talking about someone who is acting in a way that makes it painfully clear to everyone that they are drunk, and that in doing so they are disturbing other people at the restaurant.
Keep two things in mind: 1) drunk people are usually exaggerated versions of themselves, and most people do not like being told what to do or that they are embarrassing themselves or others, and 2) when drunk, people tend to lose inhibitions, so shame and/or guilt tends to mean very little to them.
A lot of how to proceed depends on the person, how well you know them, and what your relationship is. In general, though, you want to do two things more or less simultaneously.
First, calm them down. A bit of food and something to drink that isn't alcoholic will help, as will —depending on their personality —cajoling or deflecting. Is the person acting outrageously because a particular topic has been brought up? Agree with them wholeheartedly and bring up something innocuous and not passion-flaring. Are they just talking remarkably loudly? Jokingly telling them that they're overly enthusiastic can do the trick if they're not too far gone. Are they spilling things and slurring and generally being sloppy, messy drunks? Are they what I like to call drunkety-drunk? Move directly to step 2.
Second, get them the hell out of there. As with children who are acting up, this is more for everyone else than it is for them, but helps everyone. Skip dessert, flag the waiter to bring the check, come up with the brilliant idea of turning in early or heading out to something more and better (and then gently lead them home). Do what needs to be done, but we all know when someone is beyond behaving reasonably and as their friend (or colleague or fellow human) we owe it to them in the big scheme of things to get them away from other people and safely in their own homes.
It ain't necessarily pleasant, but it's the right thing to do.
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About the Author: Molly Watson honed her ability to guide others in tricky situations by telling her little brother the best way to do everything. See what she has to say beyond dining at Ask a (Sensible) Midwesterner. Catch her work as a recipe wizard at Local Foods.