Is It Rude To Clink Glass At A Fancy Restaurant?

If you're enjoying happy hour with friends, the inevitable clinking of glasses will occur, and shouts of "Cheers!" will compete with the bar's background noise. This clinking tradition can be traced back to medieval times, when goblets collided in purposeful attempts to spill whatever liquid was inside into another's glass, ensuring trust among company –- and, basically, demonstrating that no one was trying to poison anyone (via Sydney Morning Herald). When mugs were replaced with crystal glasses, the clink became a sound of merriment, akin to the ring of cathedral bells, and the noise was thought to chase away any evil presence that might be waiting to tempt guests into committing sinful deeds (per Vantage Roots).

You've probably never thought about any of this while clinking your glass at a party. The practice has become so common at informal and semi-formal gatherings that we hope by now that you've mastered the perfect clinking technique: gently clink the glass bowl, the widest and strongest part of the glass, to avoid damaging fragile rims (per Jeanne Nelson). But what about more formal settings? Should you reach across the table to clink after the host's effervescent toast?

Clink with caution

Clinking is actually poor etiquette, according to Modern Elegance, yet it can be equally offensive to avoid the glass of someone who has lifted a glass to meet your own. Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette and The Plaza Hotel Finishing Program, advises that not only could enthusiastic clinks chip glassware, the goal in extremely formal settings is to make as little noise as possible. Those with regally refined manners interpret clinking as a tradition of the working class, says Holly Holden; glasses held in the most decorous environments are simply raised. But as Etiquetteer cedes, "It's not Perfectly Proper to clink glasses in a toast — and it will be impossible to get people to stop doing either. These deviations from Perfect Propriety have now become Standard Operating Procedure."

Regardless of whether or not you clink, the most important move you can take is to make eye contact and smile at the other guests and hosts, advises Tatler. The safest bet for any social situation is to mirror the host's behavior and to always clink glasses carefully.