Here's my sister and her boyfriend drinking shots at Mua in Oakland, with the third shot meant for me sitting on the table untouched. We are all celebrating our respective birthdays.
I haven't had a full glass of any kind of alcohol for many, many years. I wish I could say it's because of my values or morals, but really it's just biology. I'm allergic to most forms of alcohol. I flush red, get a headache, and then get clumsy and sleepy. That's about it.
For the most part, I don't miss drinking.
But when I'm out with friends or family and everyone else is letting loose and relaxing together, I do envy the role that alcohol plays in facilitating that. I understand it's role as a social lubricant, helping strangers bond and acquaintances overcome any social barriers. Being sometimes a shy person, a beer might help me start a conversation with someone I wouldn't normally approach.
What I don't get is drinking to oblivion. I want to have fun and remember the fun I had later. So I don't really understand the hilarity of someone being so wasted that they don't remember what they did. Perhaps if you have a lot of things you are actively trying to not think about, then being completely out of your mind might be attractive.
I do wish I could appreciate the taste of a well-crafted cocktail, a fine wine or a microbrew. My friends who are into cocktail culture can nerd out for hours on innovative combinations, infusions and recipes. It's fascinating and bewildering to me, like people regaling me with tales of a country I can never visit.
Then again, it's a whole swatch of the common culture that I don't have to think about, like organized sports or car culture. I don't mind that other people are obsessed with those things, even as they hold almost no interest for me.
I do enjoy going to bars and lounges with friends, particularly in places like New York and San Francisco where you can often get a martini or a macchiatto in the same place. There have been other places I've lived where I felt actively shunned or awkward because I wasn't drinking, like in parts of Texas and the UK. But in the Bay Area, I can get an Arnold Palmer and the bartender doesn't blink.
And of course there are lots of other tasty alternatives to alcohol.
Right now I'm sipping on the dark and sweet "Jacobs Wonderbar" coffee blend from always fantastic Philz Coffee, freshly ground, then made in my high tech Aeropress single-cup brewer, with just a dash of cardamon for a hint of spice. It's my high of choice that makes me happy every time.