It’s the holiday season, and god help us all. But let’s be real about at least one thing, since the holidays are full of them: the “best” drinking nights of the year are wayyyy more often the worst. We look thirstily forward to them, we buy “special” bottles in anticipation, we allow ourselves a bit of an earlier start because, hell, it’s a holiday. Oh, the best laid plans…
We’ll get to why these drinking nights are the worst, but first a disclaimer: this is a post from a social perspective specifically, so we won’t be covering drunk driving—but that’s nothing to be ignored. In fact, the sadly inevitable—and cataclysmic—spike in drunk driving fatalities on many of the nights we mention is more than enough reason to avoid going out, and/or joining in on the drinking. When in doubt, call an Uber, take a cab, or arrange for somewhere to sleep in advance. No excuse not to.
But yes, on a profoundly lower-stakes level, these nights are all still a mild social drinking nightmare. Like an oasis in the desert, you scamper toward them dreaming of liquid joy—except the beautiful scenario you envisioned disappears and suddenly you’re waiting for an Uber in a vomit (not yours)-stained dress while trying to avoid and/or referee the fist fight next to you. Where did all the fanciness go?
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St. Patrick’s Day
The best drinking holiday of the year, if you like standing outside questionable bars at 8am because on this special occasion, “day drinking” means morning ‘til midday, boot-and-rally, and start all over again. Beyond the ease of losing your group because everyone’s in goddam green and shouting the same thing about the Dropkick Murphy’s, it’s basically a holiday for throngers—meaning, if you like to move in ornery, over-sauced masses, it’s the day for you. Better bets are house parties or just avoiding the day entirely, reading up on the real story of St. Patrick’s Day, and having a dram of good Irish whiskey in peace and vomit-less quiet.
Cinco de Mayo
Ah, the great cultural celebration lie we all tell ourselves. Or rather, an actual historic date commemorating an 1862 Mexican victory over the French army that’s somehow been contorted into a day about buckets of Corona Light and sugar-bomb frozen margaritas. Not a big holiday in Mexico, though celebrated, rightfully (and differently), in American communities with large Mexican populations. But if you’re not in any of those places, you have no obligation to throw yourself into the generic Margarita-melee. Rationalizing another shot of Patron based on a 19th Century Franco-Mexican War is just something nobody needs to do.
The Fourth of July
From a basic danger perspective, this one’s up there (all that day drinking, no matter how many burgers or patriotic Rocket Pops you eat, takes its toll). And even if the pop-bang! of that cowboy hat-shaped firework seemed to sober you up, it didn’t. The Fourth of July is also just predictably annoying because someone is going to ask you to try their Patriot Punch (probably a blue or red, somehow, version of Jungle Juice) and simultaneously start talking to you about the “meaning” of freedom. Silver Lining: All the food. Just don’t forget to eat some. Really.
The Night Before Thanksgiving
The classic high school reunion night nobody ever asked for, but somehow self-generated out of our need to go out to bars the night before we have to spend several poultry-heavy hours with family members who still don’t understand why you’re not married, or under-employed, or what’s with that tattoo that looks like a swirly thing, etc. A fun idea, and we’ve done it, but bars pack OUT—seriously, we’ve stood on 30-minute long lines for the chance to drink overpriced beer while pretending to reconnect with that kid from French class who made endless fun of us, but assumes his new Tesla and tech investments are still super interesting.
New Year’s Eve
The swankiest, most promising drinking holiday. Where staying vertical ‘til midnight, ideally with a glass of Champagne, is required. Where $150 cover charges get you unlimited drinks until the ball drops. The only time a drunken rendition of a song (Auld Lang Syne) is not only acceptable, but preferred. Except no—the Champagne tends to run frequently, and out, that $150 cover only earns you the privilege of elbowing strangers for access to the bar where an angry, overworked bartender will shove a necessarily half-assed well drink at you. And just as everyone else starts sloppy kissing at midnight, you remember you’re flying solo, and by some lack of seasonal 1st Base implication, you’ll have a really lonely year?
High School Reunion
OK, so not a “holiday” per se, but a holiday of sorts. When your time comes, the night seems like some kind of delayed, slightly wrinklier Prom. You still end up pre-gaming with a small, select group of “safe” friends before diving into the deep end of the hormonal social experiment that is the high school senior class. Except now half of the “popular” kids are either investment bankers or carrying the child of one, and the rest of the class is amazed when you pillage the open bar out of extreme social anxiety and proceed to attempt The Worm for the first time. Unsuccessfully. Lay low at this one. But wear a cape. Just to confuse everyone.