Turning 21 is quite an important rite of passage in the U.S. At this age, it becomes legal for you to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages. You probably can't wait to head to your local liquor store and buy a bottle of rum, schnapps, or maybe even wine. But before you do, there are a few tips to check out below.

Bring Photo Identification

Liquor stores are required to ask for proof of age before selling you any alcoholic beverages. Some may not even allow you to enter without this proof. People most often use their driver's license as proof of their age. However, if you do not yet have your over-21 driver's license, you're probably better off bringing your passport instead. A U.S. military ID is also acceptable.

Give Yourself Time to Look Around

As someone newly allowed to drink, you probably don't know much about the various products sold at liquor stores. So, make sure your first visit is at a time when you're not in a rush. Allow yourself to meander around the store, browse the various options, read the bottles, and compare things. It doesn't matter if you only plan on buying one bottle of something. You may as well take this opportunity to learn while you're in the store.

Opt for Smaller Bottles

In the world of liquor, the larger bottles are often the better deal overall. However, as someone new to drinking, you're probably not certain what you'll like and what you won't like. So, instead of paying more for a 1-liter bottle and risk throwing most of it away, pay less for a 500 mL or even 250 mL bottle. If you try the drink and like it, then you can get a better deal on a big bottle the next time around. Buying the smaller bottle also helps keep you from over-indulging, which is important when you're newly 21.

Don't Forget Mixers

If you buy straight liquor, such as rum or vodka, you'll probably want to buy something to mix it with. While some people do take straight shots of liquor, this is not usually the preferred means of imbibing when you're newly 21. Most liquor stores carry a good selection of mixers, and if you read the labels, they tell you what to mix them with.

With the tips above, you can have a better and more productive first trip to the liquor store.