America's ascetic reputation is confirmed by a paper to be published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology by Scott Rick of the University of Michigan and Maurice Schweitzer of Wharton Business School. They looked at Americans' perception of drinking in a professional setting. In one experiment, they found that job candidates who ordered a glass of wine during an interview over dinner were viewed as less intelligent than those who ordered a soft drink. This holds true even when the interviewer himself is enjoying something a little stronger. Several other experiments showed that Americans link even moderate drinking with stupidity, which the professors call the "imbibing idiot bias".This may be short-sighted. Another recent paper from the journal Consciousness and Cognition by psychologists at the University of Illinois confirms what many have long suspected: a couple of drinks makes workers more creative.
My favorite memory of drinking during the workday was at the SF Chronicle, where the business editor would routinely receive bottles (sometimes cases) from nearby wineries. We all had wine glasses at our desks and at some point in the afternoon he would come around and pour. Frankly, it didn't seem all that odd - the Chronicle was still a fast and loose kind of paper (Herb Caen was cranking out columns) and SF was reasonably close to the Napa Valley. In other words, we were only doing our jobs. I kind of miss those days. Of course, things never got as wild as in the above office party scene from "The Apartment."