Drinking culture

From Academic Kids

Drinking culture includes the activities, terminology and truisms shared by those who drink alcohol.

Although the type of alcohol, social attitude toward (and acceptance of) drinking varies around the world, nearly every civilization has independently discovered the process of brewing beer, fermenting wine or distilling liquor.

Alcohol and its effects have been present wherever people have lived throughout history. Drinking is documented in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, Greek literature as old as Homer, and Confucius' Analects. Given its continuing popularity and the failure of most Prohibitions, drinking may remain a part of human life interminably.

Missing image
The Great Drinkers of the North.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut of the "Histoires des Pays Septentrionaux," by Olaus Magnus, 16mo., Antwerp, 1560.

Purpose of drinking

Generally, people drink for one of five reasons; to quench thirst, to get drunk (binge drinking), to enjoy a social setting (social drinking), to feed an addiction (alcoholism), or as part of a religious or traditional ceremony or custom.

Binge drinking

Binge drinking is drinking alcohol solely for the purpose of intoxication, although it is quite common for binge drinking to apply to a social situation, creating some overlap in social and binge drinking.

College students have a reputation for engaging in binge drinking, especially (in the USA, athletes and fraternity (or sorority) brothers (sisters), particularly after final examinations, varsity wins and during spring break).

Some common reasons for this propensity for binge drinking is that many college students are living on their own for the first time, free of parental supervision, among peers, especially those of the opposite sex.

In most of Europe, where children and adolescents routinely experience alcohol much earlier and with parental approval, such as watered- down wine with a meal, binge drinking tends to be less of a problem.

Social drinking

Social drinking refers to casual collateral drinking, usually without the intent to get drunk, but rather sustain a buzz.

Social drinking plays an important (but not traditional) role in such social functions as dating, and marriage. For example, a person buying another a drink at a singles bar is a gesture that the one is interested in the other and often initiates conversation, or at least flirtation.

Bad news is often delivered over a drink, good news is often celebrated by having a few drinks - we drink to "wet the baby's head" to celebrate a birth. Buying someone a drink is a gesture of goodwill, and can be used as an expression of gratitude or mark the resolution of a dispute--to bury the hatchet, so to say. The physical act of going to a comfortable setting with friends is a large part of sharing a drink in the above situations, but the fact remains that people have found as many reasons to meet for a drink as they have to meet for tea, coffee, or to eat.

Free drinks

Free drinks is a ritual which has existed in various institutions at various times and within various cultures and traditions. The social effects of this ritual, however, have more to do with sociology and psychology than the more temporary physical effects of the event itself.

For example, during a wedding, free drinks are often served to guests during the reception, as a matter of celebration, or at more serious functions, free drinks may be offered in order to entice greater attendance. Interestingly enough, this phenomenon combines the human need and capacity for ritual societal gatherings and basic greed. It is also an anecdotal fact that one can tolerate more alcohol, in a situation when payment isn't necessary, than at any other time. Similarly, free drinks can assume an almost mystical status in the minds of everyday people, who are accustomed to paying for their drinks.

Further examples include the more recent policy of "ladies drink free" at bars; a fairly transparent ploy, aimed somewhat at swingers, to hopefully bring a bar more female visitors, and hopefully, to thereby bring in more male patrons. Many military bases, as well as large corporations, (especially in Japan) have favoured bars, often locations specifically catering to these institutions; private functions arranged here, while providing free drinks, can often be obligatory. Another view of the free drinks phenomenon is far more basic: the simple act of sharing one's beverage with another, be it from the same container, or bringing a cold beer from the refrigerator for a friend.

A free drink is often a way of saying thank you as well. In Canadian culture it is a well known fact that when in a bar in Holland, the natives will often buy Canadians free drinks for the role their nation played in liberating their country during World War II. This is often thought to be one of the reasons why many Americans wear the Canadian flag while on vacation in Europe.

List of drinking terms

Some terms describing drinks, used when ordering:

  • Shot - 1 or 1.5 ounces of liquor in a shot glass, to be drunk in one quick motion; in the mouth and immediately down the throat without tasting (shooting)
  • Neat - said of liquor taken alone in a short glass, no ice or water
  • On the Rocks - said of liquor taken in a short glass with ice
  • Chaser - a drink weaker than liquor intended to be drunk immediately after a shot
  • Straight-up - same as neat, but can also be used for a mixture of two or more alcohols without any non-alcoholic liquids or ice
  • With a twist - with a twist of citrus, either lemon or lime
  • Shaken - referring to the method of mixing or chilling of alcohol(s)
  • Stirred - referring to the method of mixing or chilling of alcohol(s)
  • In the Face - a term common to Northern England, colloquially meaning "drink up".

Types of drinking glasses

  • Highball Glass - tall thin glass, used for Bloody Marys and the like
  • Yard Glass - An even taller vessel, often used for the sculling of beer.
  • Lowball or Rocks Glass - shorter glass, used for sipping liquors, esp. Scotch, whiskey, etc.
  • Champagne Flute - very slender, tapers at the opening; used for champagne
  • Wine glass - shallower and rounder than a flute; used for wine
  • Stein, mug, pint - in which beer is served
  • Martini glass - inverted cone with a long stem; used for martinis
  • Shot glass - 1 or 1.5 ounce, used for shooting straight liquor
  • Collins glass
  • Disposable plastic cup - Usually 12 ounce capacity, often colored bright red or blue on the outside and white on the inside. Popular on US college campuses, as they are reliable, inexpensive and opaque (lessening chances of getting into trouble for illegal/underage drinking), which makes them even called "Frat cups" in some areas. Standard equipment for beer pong.

See also


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