In Voyager In the Flesh, Chakotay is in a Starfleet Headquarters bar getting hit on by Valerie Archer while she is drinks a "Klingon Martini". It doesn't take long for her to ask him out.

ARCHER: Headquarters has a lot more to offer than conference rooms and consoles, if you have the right guide.

CHAKOTAY: Is that an invitation?

ARCHER: I get off duty at nineteen hundred hours.

It turns out though that this facility is actually

not Starfleet Headquarters at all! But rather a facsimile of Starfleet Headquarters created by Species 8472!

It's a pretty good one though, and clearly well researched so I'm assuming the policies are legit.

Does the existence of Synthohol mean that a three Klingon Martini lunch is not against any Starfleet regulation? I always assumed that being "on duty" meant that was a no-no but this contradicts that if she is she doesn't get off duty until later.

Can Starfleet officers drink Synth/Alcohol on duty?

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    Hmmmm I know that starfleet officers drank with the Ferengi while negotiating (thus synthahol) which would arguably be an example of drinking on duty. And for that matter, staff are likely considered to be required to be available for duty at all times (see how often officers are paged from ten forward in TNG). Finally, it seems almost nobody actually drinks alcohol anymore (which has been shown repeatedly) so given the lack of deterative effects of synthahol there would seem to be little reason not to. I haven't seen the scene you quote but it sounds more like a sexual invitation. – Broklynite Dec 11 '16 at 18:57
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    Isn't she on a lunch break and therefore actually off-duty at the time? – Paulie_D Dec 11 '16 at 18:57
  • ...anyway, related - scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/56286/… – Paulie_D Dec 11 '16 at 19:01
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    scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/56286/… It appears as though even if the officer is on-duty, they wouldn't have any issues drinking Synthehol as the intoxicating effects can be "easily dismissed". – Paul Omans Dec 11 '16 at 19:05
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    Also that episode you were referencing involved Species 8472 rather than the real Captain Archer and Chakotay was undercover but he refused alcoholic and she called him a "tee totaler". – Hack-R Dec 11 '16 at 19:09

It would appear that drinking alcohol on duty is frowned upon, both before and after the invention of synthehol. The only times it's tolerated are with the permission of the Captain or a senior officer.


KOR: Come and join us, my friend.

EZRI: I am on duty. I'll see you later. It's good to see you again, Kor.

DS9: Once More Unto the Breach


KEENE: Just a little stiff. Thank your doctor for me. I've got some Drilaxian whisky stashed away, if you'd like to join me.

ARCHER: I'm on duty.

ENT: Fortunate Son


REED AND ARCHER: Hear, hear. [clinking beer glasses]

ARCHER: Don't get too used to drinking on duty. But you did your jobs pretty damn well yesterday. I'd say that deserves a little celebration.

ENT: Silent Enemy


TUCKER: Well, then how about a drink?

REED: I don't drink on duty.

TUCKER: Are you serious? We're dead men, remember? What's the matter, Lieutenant? Are you afraid the autopsy will show your blood-alcohol level was too high to pilot a shuttle? Live a little. That's an order.

ENT: Shuttlepod One

Moving down the canon scale, in the TNG Novel Diplomatic Implausibility we get the following snippet from Worf's perspective. It would appear that synthehol can be drunk while on duty.

Even better, it wasn't a syntheholic drink. While humans — who had spent millennia cooking all the flavor out of their food — did not have sufficiently discerning taste buds to distinguish alcohol from synthehol, Klingons could. While Worf would drink synthehol if he had to, while on-duty, for example — he greatly preferred the real thing, and this was definitely it. A few more sips, he thought, and I might even be able to stand this music

and from Star Trek: Myriad Universes - Echoes and Refractions (noting, of course that this is a "what-if" type story).

To the replicator, Haden said, “Computer, two drinks, alcoholic. A glass of Merlot and a shot of Bushmills 21.”

Picard raised an eyebrow. “Alcoholic?” Starfleet regulations stipulated that officers could drink only syntheholic liquor while on duty.

  • Is that a good book? – 1252748 Dec 11 '16 at 20:22
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    @1252748 - Yes, but only if you like extra Worf with your Worf. It's almost all from his direct perspective. It ties off the story about Jeremy Aster but for some reason there's almost no mention of Jadzia or his son. They exist but he doesn't really think about them. – Valorum Dec 11 '16 at 20:34
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    Note that anything from Enterprise is United Earth Starfleet, not Federation Starfleet. Different organizations, different governments, different rules. Not to mention Enterprise and DS9 are 200 years apart. I don't expect this to change the answer, just noting. – Schwern Dec 12 '16 at 5:01
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    Note that with the Enterprise examples, synthehol hadn't been invented yet, so they are definitely talking about alcohol. We see in TNG's "Relics" that Scotty is surprised to learn about the invention of synthehol. – Thunderforge Dec 12 '16 at 17:04
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    I'd also note that just because someone doesn't want to drink on duty doesn't mean that its forbidden by regulations. – DCShannon Dec 12 '16 at 17:47

Probably not.

While I imagine there is some leeway for higher ranking officers on diplomatic missions, scenes from the Voyager episode Vis a Via involving Tom Paris (who replicated 5 alcoholic drinks on duty), Seven of Nine (who reported him), and Captain Janeway (who chastised him) make it clear that under normal conditions this is not allowed.

First scene:

SEVEN: The capillaries in your eyes are swollen, Lieutenant, and I see signs of vascular congestion in your cheeks. Are you intoxicated?

STETH/PARIS: No, not at all. I was just exploring the replicator, trying some alien beverages. Only a few were alcoholic.

SEVEN: You are not officially off-duty for another seventy eight minutes.

Second scene:

STETH/PARIS: You wanted to see me, Captain?

JANEWAY: Yes. I received a rather disturbing report from Seven of Nine regarding your conduct last night. She claims you were drinking on duty.

STETH/PARIS: She's mistaken, Captain.

JANEWAY: Don't lie to me, Tom. I checked the computers. You replicated five alcoholic beverages in the mess hall. She also said you threatened her.

In Tom's defense an alien had switched bodies with him.

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    That's why you should replicate them before your service starts. A spanish film begins with a man at a bar drinking whiskey after whiskey, when he is about to leave the bartender shows him that the bottle is almost empty and tells him to finish it off; the man produces a police ID and says "I cannot, I am on duty now" :-D – SJuan76 Dec 11 '16 at 20:02
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    But these drinks were alcoholic. Do we know that synthoholic drinks are also forbidden? – Daniel Wagner Dec 11 '16 at 20:03
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    @DanielWagner I'm checking, but nothing jumps out at me about synthehol. Of course, if you're drinking synthehol you're doing something other than your duty, regardless of the chemical effects. In that sense I would expect it to be forbidden in the same way that using the holodeck or playing checkers on duty would not be allowed. – Hack-R Dec 11 '16 at 20:10
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    Isn't "an alien switched bodies with me" the defence for any and all crimes? – Greenstone Walker Dec 12 '16 at 3:41

The only time I can recall any on-duty officer getting drunk was the meal Kirk and company shared with Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI (using Romulan Ale, which is apparently enough to get even Klingons drunk). This was initially a source of humor

KIRK: Valeris, do you know anything about a radiation surge?


KIRK: Chekov?

CHEKOV: Only the size of my head!

KIRK: I know what you mean.

But later it's turned against McCoy

CHANG: Ah. You know. I believe that you consumed a rather generous amount of Romulan ale in the officers' mess on the night of question. Am I right, Doctor?

I can only assume this was permissible because it was a diplomatic mission

  • I reckon they sorta get a pass at diplomatic events. McCoy probably should have known better than to make the attempt. I can't believe there wasn't another surgeon on the Enterprise. – 1252748 Dec 12 '16 at 3:37
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    @1252748 Well, consider that Kirk was essentially winging it. His ship had been framed for attacking a diplomatic ship. And two of his crew murdered the High Chancellor. To bring a newbie (even sober) with him to attempt it would have been just as disastrous. "Did you attempt to save the Chancellor with a 2 year med student?" – Machavity Dec 12 '16 at 3:45
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    Great point! I still think that a ship of the Enterprise's caliber ought to have more than one experienced surgeon, but yeah I'd probably want McCoy with me too. – 1252748 Dec 12 '16 at 4:04

Just because she told Chakotay a time when she gets off duty, doesn't mean she's on duty right now.



ME: Honey, I'm off to work now. I'll get home at around 6pm.
HONEY: Okay!

I've declared when I'll get home, when I'm already at home!

You have to observe the context of the interaction. At lunchtime, Valerie was setting up an evening-time date, so she told Chakotay when she would get off duty that evening.

Starfleet officers don't stand around propping up the bar, while on duty.

If anything, it says a lot about this character that they were [at least pretending to be] getting drunk at the start of their duty shift. ;)

  • I think it's pretty unlikely that she was drinking before starting her shift in the morning. – 1252748 Dec 11 '16 at 20:50
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    @1252748: Why? Why is that less likely than her drinking on her shift? Because those are the only two possibilities here. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 11 '16 at 20:52
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    Sneaking a cocktail at lunch seems more common to me than having a martini for breakfast, but I concede that I don't know if it is any more or less likely by Starfleet's standards. Either way, to get a conversation going with a wet blanket like Chakotay, I'd start early too. – 1252748 Dec 11 '16 at 21:08
  • @1252748: This was lunch. Are you assuming that her shift starts before lunchtime? :) – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 12 '16 at 11:14

The whole point of synthahol is that you can consciously shrug off its effects so presumably you can get off your face on it off duty and then show up for work as fresh as a daisy.

However you have to assume that star-fleet applies the same basic standards of professionalism as any other military or professional (with some exceptions eg law, theatre and musicians but even then you are at least expected to be able to act sober ) body in which case being drunk or otherwise incapacitated on duty is obviously unacceptable.

Equally star-fleet personnel may be expected to exhibit certain minimum standards of behaviour in public whether on or off duty.

There is also the consideration that in military and diplomatic circles there may well be occasions when you are expected to drink socially but still be very much on duty.

There is also the consideration that if an officer is getting hammered on synthahol on their breaks every day and then sobering up for duty there may be some underlying issue which needs to be addressed.

Obviously when you get attacked by generic aliens it is probably best if all the bridge officers aren't plastered, although this could go some way to explaining some of the engineering jargon....

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