Just Like Old Times?

A Three Part Lamentation on Modern Drinking Culture

Part 2: Changes for the Worse

Technology has steadily destroyed drinking culture’s casual and relaxed pace.  Today, we consume our oversized drinks against the background of televisions flashing sports games and roaring music, all while surfing the Internet on our smart phones.  Conversation is impossible or undesirable lest the televised sports game be interrupted.  We text, tweet, and email while drinking; our technological connections leave no opportunity to unplug and escape our responsibilities and obligations.  Whereas once a drink would lead to engaging conversations and flirtations, bars are now too often places to watch a game and when alone, update your Facebook status.

An evening out, like air travel, was formerly a prestigious activity in and of itself, not merely a means to an end.  A cocktail was best taken while finely dressed, not in jeans and a sweatshirt.  To be clear: I enjoy relaxed clothing as much as the next guy; yet drinks while formally dressed are indeed pleasurable.  Unfortunately, suits and ties gave way to t-shirts, ripped jeans, and ball caps, which in turn brought an end to the unspoken etiquette of those who take drinking seriously.

Gone are the quietly mysterious taverns – darkly lit havens ushering privacy or friendship, depending on one’s mood – that disappeared along with the deliberate pace, the coat and tie.  In their place stand corporate conglomerates serving mass produced beer and neon colored “extreme” cocktails.  Size has replaced quality, service, and any ability to build friendships with regulars or bartenders.  Cavernous pubs, where light is hardly visible but bonds are strong, have vanished.

Published in: on February 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. Agreed. My family owned & ran a bar for 67 years. I have fond memories of “helping out” as a child, but none of being able to drink legally there. It is exactly the type of place that you could go to meet old friends and make new ones. I’m on the hunt for one like it. Still hopeful.

  2. Alot of the atmosphere you lament now exists in private country clubs, where only the high upper class get to “live the life” and enjoy their drink after work without all of the pizzazz. D.C. is unique in that there alot of suit/tie jobs and upper class communities clustered in a small space, but b/c most of the workers are of a younger generation (20-30s), the HDTV/sports bar/fraternity ambience will be in high demand.

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