How do I start Drinking Liberally?

It's easy to start a Drinking Liberally chapter in your area. Just let us know you're interested by emailing [email protected]. We'll set up an initial 25-minute phone conversation to bring you up to speed on the best practices to make Drinking Liberally a success, and give you everything you need to get started.

There are a few ways we will support you:

  • Space on our central website for your chapter
  • Help setting up and hosting group email lists and discussion groups
  • Every week we send out reminder emails - you can use our email text
  • Buttons, sticker designs, slogans and talking points, all available on-line
  • A place in a growing network

What are the guidelines for Drinking Liberally?

There's no cost to using the Drinking Liberally name - but you must be an officially sanctioned chapter on our site in order to do so. All we ask is that each group follow a few principles to make it a successful sibling to other Drinking Liberally groups:

  • Your chapter should meet at a regular time and place. Routine is essential so participants know when/where they can drop in - the predictability makes it a comfortable and inviting setting. Most groups meet every week, and Thursdays starting around 7 is the most popular time. It's fine to pick a different time or day - you know your city best - but make it easy to remember when, and find a venue you can keep returning to, so word-of-mouth can help people easily find you.
  • It has to be free - no admission and no membership dues. Make it as inclusive as possible.
  • Send reminders to the chapter mailing list. We provide each chapter with a mailing list and people interested frequently sign-up to receive updates and reminders about the chapter gatherings. Chapter leaders must send a reminder e-mail to their mailing lists prior to each gathering. Chapters that haven't sent an e-mail in two months will be automatically removed from the website.
  • Drinking Liberally can't be "presented by" any other group.
    Other Democratic Clubs, campaigns, grassroots groups are welcome to support DL, but Drinking Liberally is its own organization. While other organizations can co-sponsor special events with DL chapters, they may not sponsor DL chapters themselves.

  • While there are no direct costs for starting a chapter, and no membership dues, we ask each chapter to do their part to keep the network running, either engaging in Tipping Liberally at each meeting, or take part in our biannual pledge drives, encouraging their members to donate to keep the network going. Living Liberally is unique among progressive membership-based networks in not having any kind of initial fees for starting, or joining a chapter. Maintaining a 300-chapter network is only possible if chapters offer opportunities for their members to voluntarily give, whether it's throughout the year, or during our pledge drive periods. (Think public radio.)
  • Participate in regular communication with our network leadership. Every three months we "check in" with chapter leaders to make sure that everything is going smoothly and share ideas throughout the network -- this is critical as we grow and strengthen our network. We also have an optional monthly half-hour conference call with all the City Leaders to share successes and challenges.
  • Drinking Liberally does not officially endorse any candidates or political initiatives, or urge anyone to donate or volunteer for a campaign or vote for or against a candidate or candidates of a particular party. Please avoid having your chapter, or yourself in your capacity as a chapter leader, make endorsements or otherwise support or oppose particular candidates or ballot intiatives. More about our position on endorsements and
    our reasoning behind this.

  • While drinking liberally, always drink responsibly.
  • And finally, from time to time it will be necessary for us to add to these guidelines, not to create bureaucracy or burden you, but to keep DL the fun, social space that makes it great, and comply with all applicable laws. By becoming a chapter leader and accepting our support, you agree to follow these policies and procedures and any others in the future.

Once you get in touch with us and have the brief phone conversation, we'll officially list you on the site. Since "Drinking Liberally" is our trademark,
for legal reasons we need to give you official permission before you use the name or the logo, and need to limit use of the name and logo to only the chapters listed on the site.

Hints for a successful Drinking Liberally

(just lessons we've learned along the way)

  • Try to get a couple friends to co-host. It can be lonely as the group grows, if you're the only one there.
  • We recommend a cheap bar. This isn't a fancy concept. Drinking Liberally needs to be inclusive and inviting. Don't let price get in the way. Ideally, the bar will serve pitchers - encouraging members to buy a round for their new friends and increasing the good community feel.
  • Buy the first pitcher if you can afford it. It makes people feel welcome when they arrive - and encourages them to return the favor to you and other members.
  • Pay special attention to any newcomers - you already know your friends, and know they will return; the organizer's goal is to draw new friends into the circle.
  • Make sure people can find you. Whether you make and post a sign at the bar, wear buttons or t-shirts, or put out table tents, give people a way to easily identify you. You can also tell the staff at the bar, so they know where to direct lost new members.

Promoting your new group

We've created a how-to guide for spreading the word about your liberal libations.