One does not have to look far to find a bar or a liquor store in Greensboro.
People in college like to drink, clearly. It’s almost a tired cliché’ that anyone who’s seen “National Lampoon’s” is aware of, but in Greensboro drinking culture is unique. The Carolinian went to various bars around campus to find out more about what people like to drink, why they drink it and how old they were when they started drinking.
At Jake’s Billiards bar, 22-year-old patron Mitch, discussed his relationship with alcohol.
“My parents actually introduced me to beer. It was easy to drink. It wasn’t like my dad was an alcoholic, but he had a beer before work and after work. It normalized beer to me, and it has a smooth taste,” he said casually.
He described the effect of growing up in a household with easy access to alcohol and how it has influenced his current relationship with alcohol.
“It’s effective, if you get the right percentage. My upbringing had an impact on my attitude towards alcohol. My parents didn’t mind drinking on the weekends, they partied, and they were not ashamed of alcohol. They’d party until the sun came up. I don’t have a real favorite beer, but if I had to chose it would be sweet water IPA.”
Tabitha, a regular at Jake’s Billiards, said, “I enjoy a really particular number of drinks, but we all know how that winds up. I like exactly two LIT’s because they get me where I want to be, but I can still walk home afterwards.”
At College Hill Sundries, Trish, a 27-year-old bartender, passionately detailed why she enjoyed bartending.
“My favorite drink really depends on the context. I’m not going to have whiskey when I need to be at work later. Good whiskey on the rocks, good top shelf stuff like Maker’s if I don’t have to be anywhere. A double preferably,” she said, laughing to herself.
Of drinks she also enjoys, Trish said, “To be honest…Vodka is my other favorite, because frankly, you can’t really taste it. It is also my downfall, because I might wind up naked, mad or both.”
As for when she began drinking, Trish described first drinking alcohol at 14.
Unlike Trish, Dave, a College Hill Sundries customer, described being more of a beer than vodka person. “I mostly like beer, especially a good domestic craft beer. I like to try something different every time. I don’t do six packs, I am 41 and I was 19 when I started regularly drinking.”
Gene, an ex-Navy member around 40 and a College Hill Sundries patron, went into detail about the liquor he enjoys.
“I prefer whiskey, or bourbon. An island scotch is also really good. Maker’s Mark is the absolute best, in my opinion and the bartender’s. Beer, of course is amazing because it doesn’t get you too drunk too fast. [Like the bartender said] really good vodka, you can’t taste. The thing about whiskey is, you can taste it. Drink small amounts, look for quality — get Maker’s 40.”
A jovial man with graying hair at the temples, Gene went at great length to discuss the beginning of his relationship with alcohol in regards to its historical context.
“I started drinking regularly after college. I went to the navy, and there wasn’t good beer there. I learned a good appreciation of foreign beer when I went to Germany. I appreciate a good single malt whiskey.”
Gene went on to describe what the differences between beer and wine culture in America and Europe are. He described European countries as having a less moralized relationship with alcohol than America. The possibility of developing alcoholism, he explained, is neither seriously considered nor discussed.
Gene emphasized that Greece, Italy, Spain and France have strong wine and beer cultures.
“A lot of people have beer and wine at dinner and it’s normal. Here, people look at alcohol with a more lax view [now], but you have to remember that Prohibition and Nixon’s revamping of Prohibition as the war on drugs informs a lot of people about alcohol.