Restaurant 101: Drinking Age Debate

How old were you when you took your first drink? Was it a few swings of Boone’s Farm in the back seat of a car with some other underage friends or a half a glass of wine at a fine restaurant with your parents? Me? Guilty to the former. You?

This morning Miss Amy takes a scholarly approach and discusses the pros and cons of the drinking age debate. I’m sober and ready. Let’s go.


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47 responses to “Restaurant 101: Drinking Age Debate”

  1. yikesdallas says:

    When I went to TCU, the foreign kids couldn’t believe the crazed drunkeness of the US kids. They had all grown up drinking and it wasn’t any big deal, and the result was they didn’t get drunk. The US kids – who had been raised to hide their drinking and thought of it as taboo – were wasted every night.

  2. Amy S says:

    One little amendment to above. Parents can allow their child to drink, but only if they provide the alcohol, and ONLY if the child is consuming it in the parents presence. A parent CAN NOT buy their kids a 6 pack of Mike’s HL and say “Have a great night, kid.” as they send them out with their friends.

  3. Dallasite says:

    15 years old with two friends and a bottle of southern comfort.

    There was much vomiting that night.

  4. Amy S says:

    My (younger) sister gave me a bottle of southern comfort for my 18th birthday, I can truly say I’m lucky to still be alive. A belated (30 years) “Thank You” to my friends that drove me around and let me throw up in their car.

    Haven’t touched SC since.

  5. the cynic says:

    Boones Farm Strawberry Hill. I was 14 and it was very taboo as my parents were teetotalers. I never learned to drink responsibly, but I don’t know if age would have made a difference for me. Legal age was 18 when I came of age and I still binge drank. When I joined the US Navy I learned the fine art of abstinence for weeks at sea followed by serious binge drinking in port. This modus operandi suitably prepared me for the crazed world of advertising/communications. Finally when I quit smoking 10 years ago I also quit drinking. One just wasn’t possible without the other. Bottom line: I’m a junky.

  6. James says:

    A $20 dare to drink a pint of Bacardi between classes in the ninth grade. The next thing I remember was waking up in my bed several hours later, $20 richer and grounded for months.

  7. TLS says:

    Amy: You must have been more responsible than I was at the CIA. A pint of beer at the on-campus pub was 95 cents and knowing we could just walk back to the dorm made it easy to drink a lot. I was an RA there too and it was pretty miserable when it was my night or weekend on duty. The student mix of older adults, young twenty-somethings, and kids right out of high school meant you could always find a party and you could always find someone to buy booze for the party.

  8. He Kexin says:

    My uncle gave me a drink of his beer when I was a kid. My parents left me in the car when they had to go into a store fo a few minutes. I was spanked with a switch when I was a kid. I got into a fender bender when I was 16. That wasn’t a big deal in the 70’s. Now a school yard fight makes breaking news on channel 4 or 5.

    Getting high from pot was far better than getting drunk for the first time.

  9. Nate says:

    To expand on Amy’s 1st comment, parents can also provide their underage “child” an alcoholic beverage at restaurants IF:
    1 – they order it, not the “child”
    2 – the server gives the drink to the parent and the parent passes on the drink to the “child”
    3 – like Amy said, it is consumed in the presence of the parent, so the kid can’t go sneaking off looking for a sugardaddy or cougar at the restaurant bar with cocktail in hand. (The hearts of 18-20 year olds are breaking now.)

    Been a while since I had in-depth TABC training, but I remember learning this.

  10. sarah says:

    As someone who lived in Europe for a stint as a young person, I can tell you that it more than annoys me when people hold up European countries as the “model” for teaching kids how to drink. For anyone who’s ever witnessed botelloning in Spain – a wild, insane “festival” that’s really middle and high-schoolers getting trashed before police with riot gear are called out – the notion of good’ole European moderation is a joke. I think it’s a fair assessment that many of our European contemporaries are wiser about how to consume more amounts of alcohol without getting as sick (no mixing liquors, avoid fruity cocktails, etc.) But is that necessarily a good thing? To think that all Europeans grow up learning to have a beer only with dinner is just as laughable as the notion that all American college students go out and get hammered every night.

  11. Daniel says:

    Sarah has a point. I was raised in more or less the European mode, and as a result, I was mature from the get-go when it came to knowing how to drink. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t get trashed and boisterous. It did mean that I was capable of appreciating a couple of glasses of wine with dinner or a frothy pint at day’s end. And when I got wasted, I didn’t drink those godawful frat-boy shot drinks, I didn’t require the flavor of alcohol to be masked by sugar, I chose as good a quality alcohol as I could afford, I knew better than to mix boozes, and I proceeded at a steady, rather than a breakneck, pace. I’d still get good and plastered (and do, much less frequently). I’d fare much better the next morning than most of my peers.

    In short, I got drunk like an adult even at age 18.

  12. John M says:

    Growing up my parents normally had a bottle of wine open with dinner, we were always welcome to help ourselves to a glass, an option we exercised on a semi-regular basis. Alcohol was never forbidden in our house, my parents always realized that we were going to drink no matter what and they would rather us do at it home than somewhere were we could get into trouble or drive.

  13. allison says:

    Sneaking a sip of my grandma’s 2 year old Carlo Rossi red wine was enough to thwart my drinking for quite a while.

  14. Wes Mantooth says:

    Dad would share his beer with me while watching football on Sundays from the time I was probably 5 or 6. Don’t remember what the beer was (probably Miller Lite) but even then I thought it was pretty crappy tasting. Still do. They let us have small glasses of wine on special occasion dinners I’d guess by the time I was 10 or so. So drinking didn’t hold a lot of allure for me by the time I was in high school.

    That said, my first weekend at college was a drunkfest, the first of many. That lasted through the first year of law school, and probably less than a dozen times in the dozen years since I was graduated. Now I just get tired before I get hammered. Getting old sucks.

  15. Barbara says:

    My friends used to drive around Arlington kissing boys for beer. The beer was always cheap, but I was 16 and didn’t know any better. Or care, as long as it got me drunk. In October 1982, I barfed all over my topsiders for the very last time. I gave up beer before I was of legal age to even drink it.

  16. Barbara says:

    Correction-My friends and I. I was always right there with them.

  17. Bethany says:

    I don’t drink, or swear. I don’t rat my hair. I get ill from one cigarette.

  18. Mark says:

    Original Cardinal Puffs for beer and wine, Lois’s for liquor

  19. El Rey says:


    In the old days, giving guys cheap thrills for beer was called having fun. Now it is called prostitution.

    BTW, I love that book you wrote with your daughter. Tell GW I said “hi”!

  20. old man says:

    At 14, Fake i.d. from a place on Yale Ave.

    At 15, Booze from Maureen’s on Henderson.

    At 16, Driving around Bachman Lake firing bottle rockets at all the “couples” in cars.

    At 17, Bonfires at Moss Park with your car trunk open and Van Halen’s first album cranking out from your Pioneer Tri-Ax speakers.

    At 18, Legal and tired of drinking.

    Oh, those were the days.

  21. PR says:

    3 years old. At the playground. Hanging out with five older kids in pre-K. The six of us knocked out a mini-keg of Coors. Then we went over to the soccer fields and introduced hooliganism to a young Highland Park soccer team as their mom’s watched in horror. Good times.

  22. Amy S says:

    @Sarah – I never said “beer only at dinner”. And the scene you depicted in Spain happens at universities across the US during every home football game. Unfortunately, the glamour aspect of “getting away with it” tends to make overindulging a game among kids.

  23. Jay says:

    @ Bethany

    I DID pull that same crap with Annette.

  24. amanda says:


    If that’s really even your name, you have a delicate system. Switch to Snus and wine.

    Barflys, UNITE!

  25. LakeWWWooder says:

    It was one month before I graduated from ‘the shrine’. I had turned 18 in March and we were at ‘Enchilada Point’ on the lake. It wasn’t even ‘The Hill’ or ‘The T-docks’ or Cox Cemetary. And we weren’t watching the submarine races nor the octopus fights.

    I was a goody two-shoes until you – yes you, Ricky Rodriguez, MADE me drink that Michelob.

    Of course I could only get 1/3 of it down.

    When I moved into the Freshman Quad at SMU I thought I had walked into Gomorrah. Everyone had ice chests and it was one big party.

    I get confused every day
    I just don’t know what to say

    I’m Eighteen and I LIKE IT!

  26. amanda says:


    And not to “rag” on you, but you NEED to back-comb. Perhaps, you’ve heard of Biosilk?

  27. LakeWWWooder says:

    Remember that the word “cemetery” is spelled with three e’s …Miss McSpadden would kill me!

  28. Bethany says:

    I tried to get some, but Target was all out, Amanda.

  29. uh oh says:

    God youre a mess Bethany. Maybe thats why in my mind you are so hot. But how do you get in the mood for porn if you no drink or smoke babe?

  30. Bethany says:

    Um, if I weren’t such a good girl, I’d use porn to get in the mood for porn.

  31. He Kexin says:

    Since you brought up porn. My brother and I found some teenagers stash in the woods when I was 10. There’s always a stash of porn in the woods. Must be porn elves

  32. Don in Austin says:

    Beer at 14, beer from Dad at 16. Legal at 18, but no big deal because of local beer/alcohol culture in WTX. I may have attended more keg parties in HS than in college. College parties were tame, mostly, and a half-keg of Old Mil was $18. I got really drunk the first time at a Frat rush party, which thankfully and mercifully turned me off of getting really drunk and coincidentally turned me off for the whole Frat thing (I’m sure the feeling was mutual..they only wanted me to boost their GPA anyway).

  33. Wes Mantooth says:

    @old man: Are you familiar with the musical stylings of Max Stalling? Go to (while it’s still alive), lookup Max Stalling and listen to the song “6×9 Speakers”. I suspect you will find in Mr. Stalling a kidred soul.

  34. Wes Mantooth says:

    Or a kindred soul. I wonder what a kidred soul would be like?

  35. old man says:

    @Wes Mantooth:

    Just listened to Max Stalling’s 6×9 Speakers – although I enjoy country music as much as a barium enema, THAT was a great song! Boston, Van Halen I, Cheap Trick, Back in Black – Max touches the soul of this almost 50 rocker.

    A kidred soul has to be Mick Hucknall of Simply Red.

  36. Candy Evans says:

    Nancy, great post. I am so ancient that it was legal for us to drink beer and wine at age 18. They even served us wine and beer in college at Saturday night dinners. I had my first drink at about 15 or 16 whenever/wherever I could get them — parties at other kids’ homes when the parents were gone, drive-in movies (oh the fun we had there, no wonder drive-in movies are no more — or are they?), chez moi. My parents didn’t really care if I drank at home as long as I didn’t drive or get wasted, and I didn’t have a car until I was 18.

    My point: I actually think we do this ass-backwards. We should let kids drink beer and wine at age 18, and keep them out of cars until 18 or 20. Right now a Texas kid can get a driving “hardship” at 15. All you do is go down to the Department of Motor Vehicles and sign a form saying that you work and your child needs the “hardship” to get to school. I did it out of sheer frustration, peer pressure and exhaustion schlepping from school to three hundred after school activities. Parents, do not do this. 15 year olds should not be driving. I say let ’em drink a little beer and wine at 18 and keep them out of cars as long as you (we) can!

  37. Puddin'Tane says:

    If an 18yr old can be sent to war then I think they’re old enough to have a beer.

  38. Fun City says:

    Can’t believe no one’s mentioned this, but California Coolers made for a great gateway drink in my day. If I could find some, I would throw up just from the smell. Mmmm…skunky.

  39. James says:

    Oh no, there is another James out

    I had the parents that said, “We don’t care if you drink..As long as it’s at home.” I was so popular…

  40. Sugar says:

    First drink was at the dentist’s office when I was twelve. I needed to get a filling, but my dentist was out of novacaine. Instead he had me drink some peach brandy for the pain. I remember him singing as I fell asleep. When I woke up, I had a new filling and my pants were unbuttoned.

  41. Jack says:

    Most national Restaurant chains will not serve kids even if the parents are present, too much liability

  42. sarah says:

    @ Amy S.: I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth, but I still respectfully disagree with your assessment. I’ve been to tailgates aplenty, several of which have been at big state schools. None of them that I’ve seen have involved police beating unruly kids with batons, not allowing people to leave bars, arresting people on sight, and kids lighting trash cans on fire. It may not be the “glamour aspect” that causes kids to drink to excess, but a human/cultural thing that, yes, exists in Europe as well: the desire to get drunk. It happens everywhere…

  43. Wylie H. says:

    At 21, the U.S. has the highest drinking age in the world. If this law was achieving its desired results in changing behavior, we would have witnessed better comparative behavior by those in the 18-21 age range vis a vis the rest of the world.

    The fact is, no such positive change has resulted and no advantage can be shown. This shows the law doesn’t work. It’s simply MADD-inspired neo-prohibitionism at work.

  44. Amy S says:

    @sarah, you’re probably right, I’ve only witnessed that behavior in the US after a university team wins an NCAA title. And it is only college age and above.

    But the freedom to experience the drug comes simultaniously as they are separated from the people who care and can help them the most, unlike Europe where kids have several years of parental oversight while experimenting. Do we leave this to the dorm peers to teach the lesson?

  45. Randy says:

    If you can remember your first drink, you haven’t been drinking very long. I started drinking at 15 with friends. My parents had always shared wine with us as children, but that’s not drinking. When the drinking age was 18, I was shooting pool and watching bands in bars at 17. When I turned 18, I got a job in a liquor store. Although I drank a lot in college, it got worse after graduation. After 30 years of life as a very functional alcoholic, I’m a very successful engineer at the top of my career. I quit drinking cold turkey about 3 months ago. No DWI’s or lost jobs. I feel much better now and limit myself to a glass or two of wine each day. Life is good and only getting better!

  46. LakeWWWooder says:

    I know you should avoid packs of Brits when they are on holiday, especially in Amsterdam.

    One of them overheard me calling him “a future Onslow” and I thought I was in for a thrashing.

    “Binge drinking yobs” are also a problem on sceptred isle. It’s fun going out with them though, because only they can lead you through the labyrinth of drinking laws. How else can you find your way around King’s Cross?

  47. Randy says:

    I was once in a London BritRail station looking to take a train to Edinburgh. When I arrived at the platform around 7:00 AM, I found it crowded with extremely drunk football fans. I decided to take a different train.

    Another time I went into an off-license for a bottle of scotch. The shopkeeper’s wife informed me that it was off hours. The shopkeeper overheard our conversation and declared, “It’s alright. Sell it to him. He’s not from around here, so our laws don’t apply!”