1. Go to the polling booth
DRINKING INSTRUCTIONS (everyone else - Americans also allowed):
Obtain one bottle of Kentucky bourbon (try and find one with a red neck). If you don't drink bourbon (you elitist), a bottle of "Mac"allan will do; if you don't like whisky at all, you can drink cachaca as it is made from sugar (Mc)cane.
You then need six bottles of champagne or Cava (preferably with blue labels and not "too European"). Make paper caps for them, marked: Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina. If you feel especially confident (and thirsty) you can add bottles for Georgia, Indiana and North Dakota (if you're an Obama fan) or Colorado, New Mexico and New Hampshire (if you're a McCain fan). These are known as the 'swig states'.
Whenever a swig state is declared officially - or if the result is called by the TV channel you're watching - it's time to have a drink. If Obama won the state, open the champagne and drink it before the next result comes in. If it went to McCain, take a shot of bourbon. If you need to plan your drinking time, here are the closing hours for the swing states:
Indiana: 11.00 GMT (6.00 EST)
Georgia: 12.00 GMT (7.00 EST)
Virginia: 12.00 GMT (7.00 EST)
Florida: 12.00 GMT (7.00 EST)
New Hampshire: 12.00 GMT (7.00 EST)
Ohio: 12.30 GMT (7.30 EST)
North Carolina: 12.30 GMT (7.30 EST)
Pennsylvania: 01.00 GMT (8.00 EST)
Missouri: 01.00 GMT (8.00 EST)
Colorado: 02.00 GMT (9.00 EST)
New Mexico: 02.00 GMT (9.00 EST)
North Dakota: 03.00 GMT (10.00 EST)
Set aside four Nurofens marked Iowa, Nevada, Arizona and Montana. By the time Colorado and New Mexico close (2am GMT or 9pm EST) you should be fairly drunk, and when Iowa and Nevada come in an hour later you will need the Nurofens. If Obama is having a good night you'll be mainly high on champagne; if McCain has pulled off a comeback you can cry into the bourbon.
For extra credit, if:
- you hear the phrase "served his country with honour" - stand up with your right hand on your heart and have a shot of Stolichnaya
- Hillary Clinton's face is shown - eat a New York bagel
- Joe the Plumber is quoted - have a Budweiser
- George Bush appears on screen - eat a pretzel (carefully)
- someone says "credit crunch" - have a coke (no, the drink)
- Sarah Palin and 2012 are mentioned in the same sentence - drink something red
- anyone calls Obama by his middle name - have a soft drink
- Joe Biden sends you an email asking for $5 - spend it on an extra drink instead
And save a whole bottle of red whine for the concession speech.
Finally, if you're feeling suicidal:
- take a drink every time the phrase "too close to call" is mentioned
Whatever the result, you will wake up with a hangover which may last up to four years. And if you buy your Cava at Aldi (or your bourbon at Walmart), at least you should have some change left over. I hear they may be looking for some of that in Washington soon.