Last of the famous international drinkers

When it comes to being stereotyped, the British are always amongst the first in the queue. Every Hollywood blockbuster thriller has a snooty Eton type masterminding the evil and dastardly plot – or at least a British actor playing the part. Each and every one of us has teeth that would keep orthodontists in highly paid work for thousands of years. And our ability to drink is unmatched by any race anywhere on earth, to the eternal bafflement of scientists across the world.

Now most right-thinking Americans would probably accept that the majority of Brits aren’t crazed killers or unhinged psychopaths. And some would perhaps be forced to admit (under extreme sufferance) that they’ve met British people whose dental work hasn’t been all that bad.

But when it comes to drinking, the British are apparently in a league of their own. Sure, Americans have frat boys with their kegs, but no other nation has the long term commitment to drinking that the British can muster. From the thirteen year olds at the bus stop swigging their illicitly-gained bottles of Diamond White through to the merry bands of pensioners supping halves of stout in the last remaining old man’s boozers, Britons apparently have a cradle-to-grave attitude to booze. Put simply, if Alcohol Inc were to have an awards show, most Americans would wager their sub-prime mortgage on the fact that Britons would be accepting the inaugural Lifetime Achievement or Outstanding Contribution gong.

Of course, it’s not without justification. You can’t open the Daily Maila mid-market newspaper in the UK without reading some story about binge drinking among the nation’s youth. And the streets of many of the country’s major cities at throwing out time on a Saturday night can bear an uncanny resemblance to war-torn Afghanistan.

But the more time you spend in America, the more you realise that the Americans love a drink as much as the next man. And in this case, the next man happens to be Oliver Reed.

Maybe that’s a bit harsh. But the fact remains that – on the whole – Britons may like a drink, but their drinking seems to be more a function of community and socialising, than a desire to get drunk. One thing may often lead to the other, but drinking to get drunk is still frowned upon.

In the United States, there is undoubtedly less alcohol consumed per head of population, but drinking can be more of a solitary thing. Sitting in a bar at JFK on Friday, the man sitting on the bar stool next to me ordered a beer, and was offered any accompanying shot of his choice for just $3. In Britain, that would be seen as irresponsibility. Here it’s seen as upselling genius.

Soon To Be Wife and I have our wedding in twelve days, and – as is the custom at American weddings – the bar will be free all night. It would be interesting to see which nationality drinks the most during the course of the evening. Knowing the British as I do, I’ve no doubt about who my money will be on. But it could be a closer thing than you’d possibly imagine.

3 thoughts on “Last of the famous international drinkers

  1. Amanda

    I’m liking the musical references in your titles BTW 🙂

    Just a thought – do you have a wedding list, or is that not the done thing in the States? Please e-mail me if you don’t feel like publishing the details to the whole blogosphere.

    Maybe it’s a bit girly, but how about some wedding preparation details??? (Ok it is a bit girly, but I can’t be the only girly reader can I?)


  2. simon lendrum

    With the likes of Macca in attendance, i think you’ll have plenty of spare change from the bar allocation to spend on, oh I don’t know, a house.

    I think the reputation for Brits’ excellence in drinking breaks down when it comes to Scotsmen under 5ft3.

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