.Let’s bid adieu to the year of drinking dangerously.
In the past year, legal highs hit new lows. We saw wine in to-go cups, caffeine-fueled binge drinking, and bros icing bros. We paired drinking games with every media event from the World Cup to the State of the Union Address, and learned that heavy drinkers live longer than teetotalers.
As we emerge from our national hangover, let’s look back at the drunken year that was.
The liquid arms race.
Most beer has alcohol by volume (ABV) of about 4-6 percent. Occasionally you would see something in the teens or even cracking 20 percent. Until last year. Brewers battled for the title of strongest beer on the planet, shattering limits that had held for millennia. Although it has since toppled, for a brief, shining moment BrewDog Brewery was the titleholder for its astonishing 55 percent ABV blond Belgian-style ale which it inexplicably bottled inside of taxidermied squirrels, rabbits, and weasels.
A bottle and glass will work well too.
Alcohol delivery methods got gimmicky, techie, and just plain ridiculous. We saw the self-serve wine pump and wine vending machines. Whipped Lightning put grain alcohol and flavorings in a pressurized can to create Whipahol®, and the KegMate combined an iPad and a beer tap for the ultimate party app.
Perfect for the little one’s lunchbox.
In 2010, we witnessed the introduction of sippy cup wine and Hello Kitty Pinot Noir. Milkshakes got boozy, chocolate milk hit 40 proof, and My Jello Americans treated jello shots like Play-Doh.
It’s not like it was a slow news year.
It seemed we just couldn’t look away. We saw our share of semi-riveting celebrity DUI arrests. A YouTube video of a drunk stumbling up a hill got more than 3 million hits. 21 of Billboard Magazine’s top 100 songs of the year contain lyrical references to drinking and drunkenness.
We are a country that has always enjoyed a good stiff drink, but this has been something special. Perhaps, like the 1930’s repeal of Prohibition, a nation in the grips of recession needs to drown its sorrows in a cocktail glass. Or maybe it’s the sexy glamor of Mad Men-style drinking. Or it could just be that a beer costs less than a gallon of gas, a movie ticket, or a fast food hamburger.
Looking ahead, we hope to move beyond the gimmicky contrivances and welcome a return to civilized, traditional forms of imbibing. Let’s be inspired by Roger Sterling, who summed up his old-school philosophy of drinking:
My generation, we drink because it’s good, because it feels better than unbuttoning your collar, because we deserve it. We drink, because it’s what men [sic] do.
(Roger Sterling, Mad Men; Season 1, Episode 4)