by Eric Ginsburg
Birthdays always seem to bring out my reflective side, and a week after turning 28, I’m at it again. My twenties are almost over, and while I’m indifferent about approaching 30 and am perfectly happy to have the preceding years behind me, I imagine others can relate to this year-by-year timeline of a booze writer’s drinking evolution.
Unlike most of you, I didn’t start drinking until shortly after my 20th birthday (blame it on being a straightedge punk teen). That first year saw some embarrassing decisions including a brief tryst with Andre “champagne,” but even those of you who stole from your parents at 14 still acted like newbs at age 20.
21: Wine Lover
Nobody my age drank wine until we showed up at college, but our first few years lacked sophistication. That first semester, a kid named Ethan bought a bottle wider than his leg. Sounds about right. But by 21, a contingent of classmates weren’t just distinguishing between types of red wine; they actually used glassware instead of swilling from the bottle.
I first showed up in a bar at 20 in Savannah when bartender didn’t bother to ask for ID, but I was too scared to drink more than one beer while playing a game of pool. By 22, as a newly minted graduate, I picked a favorite dive and transitioned from parties to drinking primarily in bars.
23: King of the Bar
With school behind you and hopefully the benefit of a job, your Michael Jordan Year is the right time to feel on top of the world. By now I’d put in enough hours at two dive bars that they belonged to me, especially on $1 beer nights when I felt flush and untouchable. Shots are still a thing.
24: Youthful Adult
In my 24th year, I finally began feeling like a real adult. Well, kind of. I still drank on a trampoline, went night swimming in the ocean, got wasted and ate about a pound of candy, and other such youthful indiscretions. So ended the era of drinking to be drunk, ushering in a (generally) more tempered approach.
25: Beer Graduate
So it turns out that PBR actually isn’t very good, because you’re no longer comparing it to something too revolting to call beer. This is the year I started buying cheap craft beer, and vaguely understood that I should probably reach for a sixer of wheat beer or hefeweizen — nothing too complex or sharp.
26: Friday Introvert
Partying on a Friday night isn’t a priority anymore — in fact, the idea itself is stressful by 26. It’s hard to imagine that you once threw down every Friday and Saturday, let alone many Thursdays, but by 26 you’ve accepted the fact that Netflix & Chill (often alone) is the best way to end the work week.
What, you haven’t tried the latest mango mint Randall beer from the brewery that opened earlier this year? Dude, get your life together. Now when you throw a Fourth of July party, nobody touches the back-up pack of macro beer you threw in a cooler. Instead they trade Duck Rabbit for Victory’s Golden Monkey, or try the expertly made sangria you (and your girlfriend) provided.
28: Occasional Liquorist
At 28, I actually have a cabinet dedicated to spirits, and recently poured out that bottle of green liqueur someone gave me at age 25. For the most part, the selection dominated by whiskeys and gins sits there like trophies. I swear that I intend to drink them, but at 28, my alcohol consumption from just two years ago has likely been halved.
Over the next year, I’d like to learn more about sake and figure out a few go-to wines. I picture myself with a wine rack, but just a starter-pack that can hold three bottles. I’m already moving away from six packs unless it’s a self-made variety pack, and I see larger bottles of beers I know I love (or four packs of favorites like Allagash Black) in my future. I’ll be adulting so hard.