Gator’s Rant: Dealing with the Mean Drunk

Dealing with a “mean drunk” is one of the most difficult things you may ever do. It is a dangerous task, and can quickly turn nasty.

There are a limited number of ways to deal with someone who has reached the stage of “flipping” and sprouting horns – and just when everything was starting to go so well…

First, you can fight back. Get right up in their face and tell ‘em to back the fuck off. Tell ‘em you ain’t going to take that shit off anybody so back down or back it up.

The fight occurs next, followed by cops, jail, bail, lawyers, and court. If you don’t mind the legal hassles, option #1 sounds like it might even be fun to kick the bigmouth’s ass.

Second, you can vanish.  Excuse yourself to the restroom and then fade away like a well-oiled genie. Slip out the back, Jack.

This method has its’ problems.  For example, if the place you are leaving from is your own home, your possessions might be at risk. If it is a bar, everyone will think you’re a “pussy” for backing down from a fight.  If the mean drunk is someone you care about, you are abandoning them in their hour of peril. So this one only works well with mean drunks who you don’t really give a fuck what happens to.

Third, try and reason with them.

You know, talk them down a bit. Reassure them that all is well. Soothe them.

This is the most common method used, and is also the least successful of them all.

First off, in a mean drunken state, they are going to think you are being condescending.  It does not matter how sincere you are. In fact, the more sincere you are, the more condescending it’s going to sound to a mean drunk.  Your well-ordered reason is going to be interpreted as something like “I am superior to you, and I also despise you.”

So they are not going to listen to all of your high-sounding bullshit, and they are simply going to continue to get further enraged by whatever you say to them.

Over the years, I have used all of these three primary methods of dealing with mean drunks. For the most part, all three have failed, sometimes catastrophically.

I have recently discovered a fourth method that works far better than any of the above. Nothing is 100%, but this one comes pretty damned close.

I have discovered that when a person reaches the “mean” stage, they might remain in that stage for hours, unless someone who sees what is happening intervenes.

At the mean drunk stage, bartenders must cut the drinker off. Unfortunately, this leaves them stranded at a very bad stage of drinking.

If you take away the booze at the mean drunk stage, it will continue until the person passes out a few hours later. During those hours, they might wreak havoc in one way or another.

The smart thing to do is to move them quickly through the mean drunk phase into the next stage.  Maybe the next stage they enter will be the lovey dovey stage, or the crying stage or the braggart stage or the pass out stage.

It could be anything, but it will surely be an improvement over the mean drinking stage.

So buy a mean drunk two shots as soon as they first show any belligerence. The effect is remarkable. I tried it on a friend who I will call Bill, since that’s his real name. Here is our actual conversation at the bar:


BILL: Goddam newspaper guys killing all the motherfuckin trees and now the deer ain’t got no cover and the huntin is all jacked up… Caint git no deer, arta hunt newspaper guys.”

ME: Bartender, double-shots of your cheapest actual whiskey for both of us.
Three minutes later…

BILL: Ashtroes cincha menchit figgen giddy-up gotdam em all.

ME: Love the Astros. Keep it up, Bill.


So next time you have to deal with a mean drunk, give this new method a try and see if it does any good.


This entry was posted in All posts, Articles. Bookmark the permalink.