The hardest-drinking city in America? Mine.


Austin motel landmark, copyrighted imageLast summer, my current hometown earned this dubious honor.

Had we achieved this accolade in 1992, the year I moved here, you can bet your Shiner Bock that I would have bragged, big time, to the gang back in D.C.

After all, one of the major selling points that convinced me to move here was the margaritas. Specifically, the ones made with grain alcohol at a favorite patio hangout. Patrons are limited to two of these Everclear-powered potions, and with good reason. When I first visited here for a job interview and weekend of exploration, I indulged in the infamous Purple Margaritas. I woke up the morning after my interview with a ginormous hangover and fuzzy recollection of my aggressive and sloppy flirting attempts with another copywriter at my potential new ad agency’s happy hour…while his girlfriend (also a writer there) fumed and glared nearby. Way to win friends and impress future colleagues!

My town is a college town, so no doubt that has a lot to do with its drinking proclivity. But even for us long-graduated folks, there is a sense that drinking is de rigueur on pretty much any/every occasion. This is also quite a creative mecca, with musicians and writers and other artists trying to eke out a living, and it’s hard to deny that alcohol’s a well-established facet of that lifestyle.

In my fair city, new wine bars, liquor stores and margarita spots seem to keep popping up like Whack-a-Moles everywhere I go. It goes without saying that it’s a constant challenge not to slip up, with alcohol so easily accessible at every turn. And yet, for eight months (and counting) I’ve managed not to fall prey to the mindset or barrage of alcoholic opportunity here. I’ll have to give a fair share of credit for this achievement to one of the other noteworthy attributes of my fair city: its access to AA meetings. Each week there are 450+ here. Maybe the hard drinking and the hard recovering go hand in hand?

In a few months, Forbes will announce the winner of this year’s (coveted?) title. For the sake of other suffering Austin alcoholics, I’m hoping we don’t repeat our victory.  What’s more, I can’t help but hope that whatever city claims the hard-drinking award this year has the recovery resources to match.


8 Responses to “The hardest-drinking city in America? Mine.”

  1. 1 Man Alive

    I don’t know if I ever lived in a city with this title, but God knows I did my part to try to win it for places both foreign and domestic. Glad that those days are over and that I am now part of the hard recovering part of the planet.

    Thanks for another great post.

    Happy 24!

    Man Alive

  2. 2 Sally

    Once again, a great post. My experience, strength and hope has shown me that if the willingness not to drink supercedes almost anything “earthly ” you can stay sober. This alcoholic moved to Key West at 3 months sober —-tended to try to look through and past drinking reminders.

  3. 3 Mary W.

    I also live in a college town and got sober here. But my drinking started long before I ever moved here. What is so much fun here is know where all the state liquor stores are and giving directions to people based on that. Alcoholic thinking? You bet!

    When I lived out west there was a city that had drive through liquor stores. Get your booze and drive on.

    Glad to hear that even though your town has the dubious status of drink capital of the USA, you are staying sober.


  4. 4 C

    Thanks to all for your comments.

    Mary, yours made me laugh – liquor stores as reference points/route markers. Go figure.

    We used to have one drive-thru place like that – I think it’s gone now. I recall being amazed and envious at New Orleans’ drive-thru daiquiri bars. When I discovered them on a trip there in the early 90’s, I thought I had died and gone to heaven!


  5. 5 Sharon

    Great post… great replies 🙂

  6. This is a truly great post, oh yes the accolades for such! Although I live in WV we only get the 49th out of 50th of everything but we always win the most overweight…woo hoo!

    The many accolades of those who watch our fair cities!

  7. Oh, we still have that drive-thru place. I think it’s called the Liquor Barn and it’s on Guadalupe and 30ish, near the Thundercloud. Haven’t been there since college, but I swear I’ve driven by it recently and wondered how the hell a place like that could still exist.

    I love this post, so drenched in drinking language it must have been fun to write (like visiting an old friend?)

    And you know I’m dying to know who the copywriter was that you flirted with, as well as his girlfriend. Do tell.

    Come to Bluegrass with us next time. You’d love it.

  8. 8 C

    “Liquor Barn.” Whatta name. I need to go by and take a pic and post that instead…

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