Many of us love a tipple. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and gives us a false sense of confidence. For social situations, these are great effects. However, alcohol hasn’t always been exclusively a vehicle for getting us trolleyed. It’s been important for our very survival as a species. Yet, people throughout history have certainly enjoyed, and continue to appreciate, its intoxicating effects too!
Alcohol in History
Alcohol has an extensive history of use among humans. Evidence suggests that early Egyptians and Chinese had mastered the art of fermentation. Grains, rice, and fruits have all been used to feed yeast while it literally turns water into wine for thousands of years.
As well as its intoxicating qualities, alcohol also acts to kill bacteria. In the days when clean drinking water may have been difficult to come by, alcoholic drinks were actually a far safer option. Many civilisations have created alcoholic beverages purely because people were less likely to die drinking them!
This likely relates to the worship of alcohol observed in some cultures too. The ancient Babylonians, Greeks, and other civilisations had gods of wine. Just like people worshipped the sun because life isn’t possible without it, so too did folks worship alcohol. In many cases, it was the only way to be confident that the liquids consumed were not ridden with disease and that was worthy of the highest praise!
It’s difficult to say when exactly people started using alcohol recreationally. However, it seems a fair judgement to say that it happened shortly after they started fermenting sugars to create it. In fact, there are warnings throughout Greek literature speaking of the evils of overindulgence.
As technology improved, folks began to realise that you could increase the alcohol content of a drink through a process called distillation. The stronger alcohol this produced quickly found medicinal use. To a modern reader, this might seem strange, particularly given the health warnings against overconsumption today. However, next time you have a bad cold, try drinking a couple of measures of whiskey or rum. You’ll almost certainly feel better, even if it’s temporary!
Mixing Alcohol with Recreation
While we can’t state for certain when humans started mixing alcohol with recreational activities, it’s fair to say that it goes back a long way. Alcohol’s effects can genuinely make something that’s not very entertaining much more fun.
Take, for example, the simple act of socialising. While many people are quite content to meet friends without a glass in their hands, those that do partake often enjoy time spent with friends over a drink more than if they were sober. Tongues get looser, confidence to share ideas grows, and people’s behaviour is less controlled by inhibitions. There are loads of social occasions that booze compliments too.
Alcohol and Sports
One typical occasion that sees a lot of folks reach for a drink is when watching sports. It’s very common to meet friends at a bar, knock back a few drinks, and cheer on your favourite team to victory. If the game’s an exciting one already, it starts to feel all the more thrilling. If it’s a bit dull, at least the increased banter between you and your mates will provide entertainment.
It doesn’t really matter what the sport is either. Increased beer sales during major sporting events show that sports fans prefer to take in the action with an alcohol beverage than without. The Rugby World Cup, the FIFA World Cup, the Super Bowl, and the Olympic Games all drive alcohol sales around the world. Clearly, sports fans just enjoy being spectators more when intoxicated!
Alcohol and Gambling
Another pastime that lends itself too well to intoxication is gambling. Drinking gives people a sense of confidence. It allows them to take risks they might not otherwise. Since gambling is all about taking risks, the two go together remarkably well. That’s not to say there are no downsides. Beer induced fun has led many a reveller to wake up in the morning to find they lost a ton of cash playing pokies online.
It’s not just the punters who appreciate the effects of booze when they’re betting on sports or games of chance. Those providing outlets to gamble would also prefer their customers to be drunk. In fact, in the undisputed global centre of gambling, Las Vegas, many casinos provide complimentary alcoholic drinks for players. The idea being that the increasingly reckless bets of drunk gamblers will easily compensate for the small losses the casino absorbs by giving away free liquor.
Alcohol and Dating
Alcohol has also become an important part of one of humanity’s most primal functions – sex. Just like almost every other species on the planet, humans are hardwired to look for a partner to reproduce with. The animal kingdom is full of bizarre mating rituals and so too is the human world.
Attracting a date is the first step towards breeding. This requires both confidence and a level of attraction. That’s where alcohol often comes in.
For those lacking confidence, booze can give them the get up and go to actually speak to the object of their affections. It can also provide the impetus to partake in the kind of activities that can attract someone of the opposite sex. In a nightclub, for example, it might take you until your third gin and tonic before you’re willing to hit the dance floor.
Another perk of booze, when it comes to the act of procreation is that, for better or worse, it makes people appear more attractive than they are sober. The proverbial “beer goggles” can sufficiently reduce the wearer’s standards to the level that makes tapping off with someone not only possible but maybe enjoyable. Of course, tomorrow might be full of regret but it’s difficult to gauge that when you’re already eight pints deep!
Alcohol and Good Times Set to Continue
Although excessive alcohol consumption is linked with various medical conditions, when taken in moderation there’s a lot to love about a tipple. Loads of aspects of life wouldn’t be the same without booze. As well as those we’ve discussed, Christmas, birthdays, weekends off work, and various other social occasions would be a completely different, altogether more sober affair!