From my email-bag:
Would you say "enjoys a l'chaim" is something that would be helpful on a rabbi's skillset over "teetotaller"? Would you advise a, say, 26-year-old rabbi starting his career, who's neutral on spirits (groan), to develop a taste for it, as it will be helpful for his career?
I really, really, really don't want to answer "Yes" to these questions, but I suspect that is the correct answer.
I don't particularly enjoy drinking; any enjoyment I have in imbibing comes from the joy of doing something new, not from the drink itself. To the best of my knowledge, no one ever held that against me in my rabbinate... but I do think that rabbis who enjoy a drink will have an easier time socializing in certain settings.
Of course, every rabbi must know which situations are inappropriate for a drink:
1. Part of this goes back to my standard rants about inappropriate use of alcohol in the Jewish community; I do think we are much too free with alcohol, and this particularly bothers me in environments which include children. (For more on this, wait for the re-post next week of my standard Purim and Alcohol warning.)
2. And it's also a matter of people's comfort; a rabbi should realize that not everyone wants to see him drink, and to see him 'loosen up', in every setting.
But overall, I think a rabbi who knows 'when to say when' will socialize more easily, and therefore build relationships more easily, if he can enjoy a drink.
What say you?