As I was sitting in my oversized recliner, enjoying a nice chocolate, coffee stout, I started to think about how, as drinkers, we evolve through the years. It is almost like going to school, except instead of nurturing your brain, you’re slowly killing it and let’s face it, that’s a lot more fun. I know that none of us start out as “distinguished drinkers” and only some of us obtain such an elegant social status, but we all definitely grow as drinkers. I’m not saying that there aren’t people out there who stay sober all of the time, I just don’t happen to associate myself with them.
I have no space in my life for people who think they’re better than me just because they’ve never woken up in a strange place wearing someone else’s pants, but I digress. Progression in such a field can only be obtained by experience and hangovers… lots and lots of hangovers. There’s nothing as comforting as the caress of cool porcelain on your warm head as you regret everything you did within the previous twenty-four hours and that is where we start our journey.
When we start drinking, it is rarely something sophisticated. I don’t see many spring break videos of college students discussing philosophy while sipping on twelve-year-old scotch and wearing smoking jackets. Instead, we usually spend our formative drinking years downing as much alcohol as possible for as little money as possible and creating games to make drinking more fun, like that’s even possible. That’s what we call novice drinking; a necessary step to building up your tolerance for both alcohol and the ugly hangovers that come with cheap booze. For them, there is no room for pride in a red solo cup full of liquor that comes in gallon jugs.
Let’s move on to intermediate where we start to weed out the quitters or what society calls “productive members”. At this point, you are starting to figure out that if you go for slightly higher quality and slightly lower quantity, you won’t have as many near-death experiences the next morning. You still go out and imbibe to epic proportions, but you spend a little more time tasting and a little less time throwing bacteria-laden ping pong balls into your drinks.
Once you’ve passed through this era of your life, you can now graduate to becoming the kind of drinker that men respect and women long for… Quality drinking is the finest thing you can do for your body. When you are spending more time picking out a six-pack of craft beer or a bottle of expensive brandy than you do vomiting up your hopes and dreams, they have become a “distinguished drinker”. When you spend more money on your booze than on your grandmother’s birthday present, then you truly have reached the pinnacle of drinking culture.
Not everyone moves up the drinking ladder. We all know the folks who stick with their favorite stuff and won’t even entertain the idea of branching out or even testing the waters(which, by the way, is exactly what their drinks taste like). Everyone has their own tastes and that’s what makes the alcohol industry such a financial superpower. Well, that and family gatherings. You might not get a diploma when you graduate from Brew U, but at least your bathroom won’t smell like the dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant.