As a now Senior in College (gasp!) I have seen my fare share of eventful drinking; drinking to celebrate. I have had many friends turn 21 over the last three years of College. It seems to be a relentless, ever-occurring, theme that when you turn 21 you have to get rip-roaring, three sheets to the wind drunk and it begs me to question: Why? Why is it so very critical for the generations of the last two decades (the legal drinking age of 21 came into full effect in 1988) to become inebriated beyond comprehension on your 21st birthday?
Let me, first, set the record straight.
I, just as the rest of my generation, have a healthy curiosity when it comes to alcohol. You could say it is in my blood, as my mother has told me stories of my grandfather making wine when she was growing up. Going to The Culinary Insitute of America has flourished my curiosity. Here, we learn about the complexities that is the world of wine. The agriculture, viticulture and history of how grapes became an entire separate entity of the hospitality world. You can spend a lifetime learning about wine and still not know it all. During these classes I have been able to taste an array of different wine and spirits. It is a fascinating and large part of our industry that I am always curious to pursue knowledge in.
What I can’t seem to rap my head around is why everytime someone turns 21, celebrants have to act as though they are Romans in a bathhouse? I don’t find it attractive.
There is a romance and a cultural depth that is so beautiful about drinking. Can we nod to the Prohibition era? Such a sultry, dark, and intrinsic part of alcohol’s history. Everyone was breaking the law one way or another and the business thrived through it.
Though, it seems in the eighties and nineties, even now still, the consumers and marketers have bastardized drinking. I mean, cupcake flavored vodka? Who are they trying to entice with that one, a little kid with a sweet tooth?!
For me, however, I look to it as a culture. I know that when I turn 21 in a few weeks, I will be spending it with the best of friends, eating amazing food and drinking well made cocktails and beautiful wine. I’ll throw in some champagne as well for good luck and fortune.
Many may say that that is stuffy, just go to the nearest bar. But where is the fun in buying some cheap vodka and pickling my liver?
I know that I will not find any social-depth in a pounding, soaked to the core brain. There are no mysteries that lie in the bottom of a clear plastic cup. Life does not excel through downing a pink drink garnished with a week old, corn-syrup soaked cherry.
That goes without saying, there are many who may think that I sound condescending, but I’m really not. I just have seen what drinking until your pie-eyed gets you and it’s not an enriching conversation. It’s a pounding head or a court-ordered AA sesh. I think I’ll skip the cuffs and go for a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with some steak instead.
So on that note I say Cheers to another year of accomplishments and life to celebrate! In a few weeks I’ll be 21 and just that much closer the adventures that await. Next stop: Seattle!