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The Drunkest Generation: 10 Reasons Your Grandpa Could Drink You Under the Table

Think you drank a lot last night? In the olden days, you'd have a shot of whiskey at lunch, finish out your day at the office, come home and have a martini or two, then drive to a cocktail party, down a couple of highballs with a bourbon chaser, and get behind the wheel to race erratically home to your eager, negligee-clad wife. The Establishment Man was a jovial, booze-powered social animal, and pop culture was ready and willing to encourage his alcoholism at every turn.

#10.
Novelty Drinking-Themed Toys

Various versions of the battery-operated animated novelty Bartender toy were marketed in decades past, including one strangely endorsed by kiddie cowboy matinee favorite Roy Rogers. This guy set a great example for the little ones, as he cheerily shook up a cocktail, poured it and sent it "down the hatch" like an 80-proof Teddy Ruxpin.

His face would glow red and (in some models) smoke would puff out of his ears, then the mechanism would reset and he would be ready for another round. The aftermath wasn't neglected either; this closely-related aspect of the wastrel's hobby was covered by the Man In a Barrel liquor dispenser. Press his button and he looks both ways, grabs his "tap," bends over and urinates booze into your cup.


Endless entertainment for drunk children.

#9.
Eye-Catching Bar Signage

You know those vintage signs that college students ironically hang on their walls for their surreally earnest endorsement of booze? Well, those signs actually hail from a land before irony called post-Prohibition-era America, where straight-faced enthusiasm for getting blind drunk was matched only by an unwavering belief that tin signs shouldn't pull any punches. Sometimes subtle and sophisticated ("BEER Cooled Correctly"), sometimes not ("BEER," forcefully proffered by the illegitimate son of Plasticman).

Sometimes they were downright bizarre, as in the above "DON'T DRINK WATER - DRINK BEER" ad which appears to be aimed at cows and/or turtles, possibly the only "untapped" alcohol market at the time. Even the then-closeted homosexual community was catered to, using code words ("The GAYEST SPOT in Town") and disguised mainstream imagery. Note the concealed manly bustline, Adam's apple and discreetly bulging shorts of the "QUEEN" -- only his/her hairdresser knows for sure! These beautiful designs made sure everyone drank until they landed in the shiny, pretty gutter.

#8.
Jim Beam's Celebrity Buddies

These days, the closest major celebrities get to appearing in endorsing booze is lending their voice to beer ads (ladies, in case you were wondering why you get sexually aroused during Budweiser ads, that's George Clooney talking). But back in the day, Hollywood was Cirrhosis Central, and major entertainment industry players were happy to endorse hard liquor in mainstream magazine ad campaigns.

Here, Elliott Gould looks relaxed, if a little bit tipsy, sipping a snifter of Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon. And, Dennis Hopper looks suitably hip and up-and-coming next to venerable hard-drinking director John Huston. Honestly, who wouldn't have wanted to be all three of these guys in 1977? Of course, today, Huston is dead, Gould's been reduced to befuddled sitcom dadhood, and Hopper is completely batshit fucking crazy. Thanks for the good times, Jim.

#7.
Jackie Gleason's Date'n'Drink Record Albums

In the 1950s and 1960s, the rotund TV comedian and star of The Honeymooners lent his name to a series of "romantic evening" record albums with suggestive covers and names like Music for Lovers Only, A Lover's Portfolio, and Music, Martinis and Memories. Each included seductive jazz music and came complete with a booklet of cocktail and martini recipes, presumably endorsed and thoroughly tested by Mr. Gleason, himself, for all your drunk chick-banging needs.

Of course, vinyl "long-play" records only ran about 20 minutes per side, so foreplay was normally considered optional. This explains why the post-coital cigarettes are already lit and ready to go on the album cover shown, here.

#6.
Dean Martin's Entire Career

The "Rat Pack" was the epitome of cool in the 1950s, and the hippest card in the deck was the laid-back, velvet-voiced, bourbon-infused Dean Martin. He enjoyed decades of stardom thanks in large part to his perpetually soused public image, starring in several memorable movies (often as a drunk) and achieving legendary status as Elvis Presley's favorite singer while driving around with vanity license plates reading "DRUNKY."


This must have gone over big with the highway patrol.

His loosely structured, largely ad-libbed variety show in the 1970s made it socially acceptable to drink on the job. It also made it downright cool to slur and giggle through your duties with minimal preparation and maximal intoxication. Sure, pop musicians today make the occasional mention of sipping Cristal in the club, but they don't base their entire career around it. Dean Martin helped millions of Americans feel a little more comfortable about drinking on the job and not giving a shit. Thnaks a bnUch, Dean!11!!
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