I am a woman. I have been practicing law for 40 years. I learned early that while many of my colleagues drink, some heavily, that I was better off if I kept my wits about me.Because I am a small woman that usually means not drinking , or drinking very little in professional situations while still being part of the group.
I also learned early on that I liked to socialize with the guys and it was necessary to do so with the clients. I needed to devise a strategy maintained my comfort level and social/professional expectations.
This is what I have done successfully.
I plead having had a recent sinus infection and being on antibiotics. You are not supposed to have alcohol when you are taking antibiotics.Most everyone knows that and most everyone is sympathetic. Sinus infections are common and socially neutral.
The script goes like this:
"Hey Piquet, have a drink"
"C'mon don't be a party-pooper(whatever)"
"Charlie, I am just coming off a monster sinus infection and I still have X days of my antibiotics to go. I have to take a pass."
Tell them you did some binge drinking at school and the taste of beer gives you PTSD-type flashbacks to the inside of your dorm room wastebasket. That is what happens to me actually.The thought of $1.00 US a quart Drury's or Ripple circa 1968 still makes my stomach lurch.
Either of these two examples works equally well for a guy or a woman.
If you eventually make a life choice to abstain from alcohol for whatever reason, write out a couple scripts and practice them.
A lot of business and the congeniality that makes business go smoothly still revolves around alcohol, so it is best to be prepared with a good line.
Other possibilities are to say you are the designated driver. (Most bars will give you free non-alcoholic drinks if you are the DD for part of a drinking group).
If you are at a bar with people, make friends with the bartender. They can mock up lots of drinks without booze. I like cranberry juice, seltzer and a lime.
Eventually it will come easier say, "No, thanks" without sounding judgmental or prissy. It takes practice but you will get there.